Back in 2011 in the midst of the recession, everyone in the residential development industry was scaling back, tightening their belts and putting their projects on hold.

For one young, up-and-coming developer, the changing tides were an opportunity to dive in – head first. In one of the most depressed real estate markets in the country, Nathan Day, who was 28 at the time, launched Sterling at Silverleaf in November 2011.

Sterling is a 12-acre luxury development within the sought-after Silverleaf community in north Scottsdale featuring a collection of 16 villas designed by world-renowned architect Bing Hu.

“We were able to position ourselves on the leading edge of luxury development as the market began to recover,” said Day, president of Scottsdale-based Sterling Collection Development Group (SCDG).

“It was a big risk to launch a luxury residential community in an economy that indicated the timing wasn’t right. But, for us, we wanted to get ahead of the market and we knew our product was unlike anything in the area. We priced the community aggressively. Buyers took notice of our value-driven approach and our rapid sales success proves it was the right decision.”

A few months later, Sterling at Silverleaf made national headlines for being named the greenest homes in Arizona after the community was awarded gold-level certification by the National Association of Homebuilders green building program, NAHBGreen.

This is the first and only single-family, new-home construction project to be awarded this level of certification in Arizona. There are fewer than 400 communities nationwide to hold this distinction and Day is the youngest developer to ever achieve this level of green certification.

Green development has become an important aspect of SCDG’s vision for future projects.

“At Sterling, we’ve accomplished something that no other homebuilder in the country has – we’ve built a luxury-home community that is gold-level certified,” Day said. “When people think of “green” homes, they think they have to sacrifice comfort. We’ve proven that you can actually improve a luxury home by going green – you decrease energy costs, increase its value and improve health benefits.”

Day has sold more than $11M of real estate, with just two villas remaining available for purchase in phase one. His company has plans to break ground on phase two of Sterling in early 2014 on 213 luxury condominiums that are adjacent to the villas.

The condominiums, also being developed to green standards, will average 1,892 SF and residents will have access to five-star amenities including a dedicated concierge, valet service, an elevator attendant, among others. These will be the first and only condominiums in the entire master-planned community of DC Ranch.

“I’m overwhelmed with how the market has responded to our homes,” Day said. “We feel like we timed things perfectly and offered a product that exceeds anything else in the market. The success of phase one has allowed us to expand our offering and begin phase two, where we hope to have the same success.”

Before his entrance into real estate development, Day was an accomplished bond trader, venture capitalist and also specialized in private equity financing for development and deployment of intellectual property.

A financial expert with a keen eye for market trends, Day funded several successful projects that achieved national and international brand status as well as raised funds for multiple rounds of Neodyne Biosciences, an IP-based company that develops innovative tissue repair devices to minimize scar formation.

rsz_1nathan_dayToday, Day’s 5-year-old company, Sterling Collection Development Group, has a portfolio that includes multiple real estate investments totaling more than $30M. The vision for his company is to constantly challenge his team to move in a different direction and to defy convention. He believes there is always a smarter, faster, easier way to do something.

“You have to have the ability to swim upstream when everyone wants to go the other way. You need to think with your gut sometimes when adversity is telling you something different,” he said.