Philip Taldo Says Private Development Fuels Springdale's Revitalization

Philip Taldo Says Private Development Fuels Springdale's Revitalization
Philip Taldo

Philip Taldo, 64, graduated from Springdale High School in 1969 and has since become prominent in real estate in northwest Arkansas. He is the co-owner of Weichert Realtors-The Griffin Co. and president of One Springdale, a development company, and Partners Construction. In 2014, Taldo paid $250,000 for the Watson Furniture Store building at the corner of Main Street and Meadow Avenue downtown. He is serving his third term on the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority.

Taldo, a high school friend and political supporter of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, was appointed to the governor’s transition team as well as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

You’ve called Springdale “my city” and both bought property downtown and sold land to help Northwest Arkansas Community College locate in Springdale. Why does the city mean so much to you?

My dad, Fredie Taldo, worked in downtown Springdale at Watson’s for over 40 years. I spent a lot of time hanging out around Emma Avenue as a teenager. My wife and I and our three daughters graduated from Springdale High School, and now I have grandchildren in the system. Virtually all my life has been spent in and around Springdale, and this is where I make my living. I feel it’s important to be involved in the decision-making to protect the culture and natural beauty that kept us here and served us so well.

What was the driving force that started the redevelopment fervor for downtown Springdale?

Public development of the Razorback Greenway, along with private investments by the Walton Family and Tyson Foods, undoubtedly spurred investment by numerous individual investors. Now all we need is folks to use and patronize these developments.

It seems the big-time community leaders are united behind downtown Springdale — the Tysons, Waltons and Georges, among others. How much does that help the effort?

The announcement of Tyson Foods bringing 300-plus jobs to downtown will create a demand for restaurants, products and services provided by smaller entrepreneurs. It will raise the prices of the real estate and rentals to support more investment. Public development in the Razorback Greenway would be dead in the water if it weren’t for the private money that’s following.

What would a revitalized downtown Springdale mean?

This revitalization will reverse the degeneration of old Springdale. People will begin to look at the downtown area as a desirable destination for living, working, recreation and entertainment. Eventually, this activity will bring stability and growth to this area.

You were friends in high school with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and have since become closer friends with him. What has that relationship been like?

My relationship with Gov. Hutchinson began on the football field at Springdale High School. After college and law school, we both married and got reacquainted at childbirth classes. The relationship expanded when he began to run for public office, and I was eager to see him succeed in these efforts. I helped when I could with campaigning and fundraising, and we kept in contact from that point forward. Today, we share thoughts and opinions on the issues of the day, and our wives have a close relationship, too. It’s a pretty average relationship.

What lessons did you learn from the real estate bust?

Bad things can happen to good people, and they did. Most developers and investors spent all their time on plan A and very little, if any, on plans B and C. Today, I am more conservative with my expectations of an investment, regardless of what the competition is doing.