153. Aaron Joseph of Blue Vista – Seizing the Day to Create Impact in Real Estate and Urban Centers

Aaron Joseph is Senior Vice President of Investor Solutions at Blue Vista Capital Management, a Chicago-based real estate investment manager focused in particular on middle market equity, student housing and real estate credit. He previously worked as Deputy Sustainability Officer in the Office of the Mayor in the city of Chicago, and as a Strategy Manager at Urban Partnership Bank focused on providing banking services for impact capital and urban real estate investors.

Our conversation starts with Aaron’s family upbringing, the promise of inclusion that brought them to the Oak Park area outside Chicago and his early interest in art history.  We trace his path to real estate, which actually meandered through engineering, which is where his interest in sustainability first took root. We follow his path into the Urban Partnership Bank, and the focus on impact that that had – whether to combat red-lining or extend credit to disenfranchised populations, many of whom were essentially “unbanked”.

Aaron spent time in the high-profile Mayor’s Office of the City of Chicago, where he saw the usual policy and political battles, but also the efficacy of some measures to ensure sustainable change and more equity. We move then to his current role at Blue Vista, and cycle through the various sectors that they focus on – including in particular student housing and more esoteric areas such as RV parks and self-storage.  We examine the rapidly changing dynamics in these areas and why the investment opportunity might be less obvious, but nonetheless compelling.

We end with Aaron’s reflections on his career to date, how his learnings in Latin at Oak Park and River Forest High School taught him to “carpe diem” or seize the day, and how the leaving his MBA studies during a financial crisis taught him some essential survival and adaptation skills professionally.

Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market