A New Perspective on Commercial Real Estate
For Sterling Hamilton, being an entrepreneur is instinctual.
“There’s something almost innate about an entrepreneur,” says Hamilton. “I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘How am I going to be entrepreneurial today?’ It is a descriptor for something that’s more complex than that. I think that there are people who wake up, and it’s a need. People have different reasons for entrepreneurship, for me, it’s my love for curiosity and new ideas. Sometimes, it turns into thinking about psychology or history and exploring those ideas. Does it ever lead to anything? Maybe, or maybe not. But every once in a while, it does, and we get to do something new in affordable housing that’s both complex and interesting, and it’s something that I can be passionate about.”
Hamilton joined the Cushman & Wakefield | Sage Partners team in 2017, but his story starts nearly two decades before. In 2002, Hamilton moved to Chicago, where he discovered his passion for working in the affordable housing market. While engaging with communities on the South and West sides of Chicago, the Arkansas native’s eyes were truly opened to the issues of housing, race, class, and the current systematic nature of society in the United States and possible strategies and solutions to combat these problems.
“I think that the most important thing to understand when it comes to my industry is that there are families’ lives who are affected by the appropriate workforce and affordable housing – the creation of it and the preservation of it,” says Hamilton. “I think to some extent it’s about ideas. What the sector allows for is creativity. We are accomplishing the goal of bringing more preservation and new units of affordable workforce housing, but we’re also generating some new ideas, and that is the thing that excites me the most.”
Now, Hamilton is working to shape the landscape of the affordable housing market in Arkansas, and he is doing so with years of experience and education behind him. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Arts degree in Urban Planning and Real Estate from the University of Washington. Hamilton is passionate about the complexity of the affordable housing sector and the talented people within it. In the industry, he often finds that the people he works alongside, especially at Sage Partners, are pragmatic and dedicated to finding solutions for any problem that they come across.
“I studied real estate development, public policy, urban planning and specifically how to combine nonprofit sectors with private and public sectors, and I am able to do that with Sage Partners, through both the transaction side where we’re acquiring portfolios of aging tax credit properties or where we’re developing from the ground up,” says Hamilton. “There’s transaction revenue, and then there are development opportunities, but there is also the bringing together of different stakeholders that maybe wouldn’t otherwise have built relationships around those concepts, and the value that brings to Sage is the new avenues of influence and relationship that they may not otherwise have.”
Every day looks different for Hamilton, but the goal remains consistent – to unite neighbors through affordable housing. Hamilton plays a unique role within the Sage team. Some of his main duties involve interfacing with state and local government to create innovative strategies to develop and monetize affordable housing within the region.
“The best thing I can do in a particular area is to provide something that contributes to the diversity of income, and I think the diversity of income creates healthy communities because it doesn’t balkanize the rich and the poor,” says Hamilton. “I think the goal of an affordable housing specialist should be to find projects that keep neighbors together, who come from different income and class backgrounds because it leads to what I would consider to be a more egalitarian mindset, regardless of the ideology that any one individual holds.”
Recently, Hamilton closed a $12 million deal that will break ground in 2022 to increase housing availability in Northwest Arkansas. Hamilton will lead the Springdale Creek Village development along with Thom Embach of Leisure Homes Corporation and Casey Kleinhenz of Community Development Corporation of Bentonville.
“Our current project in Springdale is probably my absolute favorite project I’ve ever worked on,” says Hamilton. The project is in an opportunity zone, and it’s a dream affordable housing, public-private partnership, mixed-income community. We are going to have people of all different income categories in the project. You can’t even make this up. All of our contracts are in place, and we are moving forward. It is going to be a really great example for the rest of Northwest Arkansas.”