Johnny Kincaid of Whisenhunt Investment on Spotting Real Estate Opportunities

Johnny Kincaid joined Whisenhunt Investment in 2011 as chief operating officer.

Last year, the company bought 376 acres in northwest Arkansas, expanding its reach outside of Little Rock.

Kincaid is a past president of the Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater Little Rock and serves on the University of Arkansas Walton College Alumni Society Board of Directors.

Kincaid earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and banking from the University of Arkansas. He has been involved in real estate management for nearly three decades.

Q: Describe why last March was a good time for Whisenhunt to get involved in northwest Arkansas.

A: We had a unique opportunity to purchase 376 acres and we took advantage of that opportunity. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The opportunity was presented, we negotiated it hard, and we had the ability to perform with the seller being Bank of America. It was all driven by the opportunity.

At the time of the purchase you mentioned having the flexibility to be patient when looking “for the right opportunity.” Can you describe what the ideal opportunities look like?

We’re not going to go out there and start developing just because we can. When the demand comes, we have the land and we’ll develop it. We’ll find the best use at that time. We’ll be there when the market turns and the best credit tenant is presented. We’re looking for the highest and best use opportunities. We can take our time.

What are some factors that led Whisenhunt to open an office in Rogers?

It became very apparent very early on — without any signs or marketing — there was interest, and I was receiving a number of calls a day in Little Rock. I knew that it was going to become overwhelming. I also knew we needed to have a presence in Rogers. When Burke Larkin became available and was hired, that was our opportunity to execute that strategy. Burke and his family are Russellville natives and are moving to Rogers. He’ll run the Rogers office and be part of the community and understand the real estate dynamics day in and day out.

What is the state of the commercial real estate market in west Little Rock? Where do you see office and retail markets headed?

I don’t see the market here as strong and rebounding as well as northwest Arkansas. That being said, we recently executed deals with three restaurants that are under construction right now on the Kroger Marketplace out-lots. That is Mellow Mushroom’s first store in Little Rock. They’re in Rogers and Fayetteville. The franchisee is in Fayetteville and the corporate offices are in Atlanta. They’re leasing about 6,000 SF at the east end of Kroger.

In front of them is Chuy’s, which is a Mexican food restaurant out of Austin, Texas. Then the third one — everyone’s favorite — is Starbucks. They are leasing in an in-line building at the southeast corner of Chenal Parkway and Kirk Road next to Arvest Bank. That project is under construction. To answer your question, I’ve seen a flurry of restaurant activity but not as much retail activity and not as much office activity.

How would you evaluate the state of the market in northwest Arkansas?

The northwest Arkansas market is driven by the Big Three: Tyson, Wal-Mart and J.B. Hunt, then the vendor community. We have some of that down here, but not nearly to the degree of northwest Arkansas. Now that we have a readjusted basis on property with freeway visibility in northwest Arkansas, it really excites those office users to have a presence and a name on a building either that they’re leasing or they own. I think that market in northwest Arkansas reached lower lows than in Little Rock, but it’s taken off with a zeal and zest.