Sam Gould, going independent

CHICAGO—Big changes are afoot at the Alter Group, which, as reported in, plans to move away from funding projects with family money and transform itself into a diversified investment firm. And as part of this new strategy, its suburban Chicago-based affiliate Alter Asset Management will begin operating independently, and pursue more third-party management opportunities.

But Samuel F. Gould, AAM’s president, tells that “to a certain degree, things really are not going to change that radically.” AAM was founded in 1971 as an in-house division of Alter, and “we will continue to manage the Alter portfolio just as we’ve done for years.” Furthermore, Alter clients have been bringing AAM outside management jobs for a long time, so boosting that side of the organization won’t cause disruption either.

AAM has already attracted third-party business from firms such as Northern Trust Bank, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, Sentinel Real Estate Corporation, and Washington Capital Management.

“The important difference is that we’re now actively pursuing third-party business and have developed a marketing plan to help that happen. We’re taking a different path, but the basics of what we do and how we do it will remain unchanged.”

To help chart that new path, AAM recently hired Cynthia S. Milka, a former regional vice president of operations at Invitation Homes, as its director of new business development. She will handle new client relationships for the company. AAM has also rebranded itself with a new logo and revamped website.

The firm currently manages about 4.5-million-square-feet, and about 70% of that comes from non-Alter clients, Gould says. He anticipates increasing this third-party portion of the portfolio to about 80%, primarily by attracting clients with value-add or boutique properties that need a more personalized, “high-touch” service that a modestly-sized company like AAM can provide.

“We’re not trying to compete with the big, mega-players,” he says. “But we do have clients who have been through that experience and went with big-name companies, but some have now opted to go with the more personal, hands-on culture that we provide.”