Joshua Brown started as an agent with the Arnold Group of Jonesboro in 2006 and 18 months later joined the largest commercial brokerage firm in northeast Arkansas, Burrow-Halsey Realty Group. In 2009, he was promoted to oversee the company’s brokerage business. In September 2010, Brown and Greg Haag joined forces to start their own commercial realty firm in Jonesboro, Haag Brown Commercial Real Estate & Development, where he is currently principal.
Brown graduated in 2005 from Arkansas State University at Jonesboro with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in criminology. He was honored as an Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 in 2011.
How is Jonesboro’s commercial real estate market?
Healthy and stable. We have three significant medical events that are making Jonesboro draw interest. A few years back, NEA Baptist opened a $400 million medical campus; St. Bernards Regional Medical Center, which is undertaking over $130 million in new construction on its campus; and the NYIT osteopathic medical school at Arkansas State University.
Jonesboro has several new hotels under construction, including what will be our region’s only convention center — the $59 million Red Wolf Convention Center & Embassy Suites project by O’Reilly Hospitality.
From a retail real estate perspective, Caraway Road has re-emerged as a viable location for new restaurants and retailers. We have seven projects pending at Caraway and Highland Drive where Sears and Kmart were located. There have not been this many new commercial real estate transactions pending in one location since the beginning of the former fairgrounds redevelopment several years ago.
What does northeast Arkansas need to continue growing?
We need to find out who we are. Our region needs “one thing” by which we are known that makes us unique. Quality-of-life projects and building attractions that enhance lives can bring new populations. It would be great to have people moving to our city because of the climate of new growth and projects.
Red Wolf Way, a pedestrian system around the perimeter of the city that connects with key points inside Jonesboro, has been proposed. Though it will be expensive, I think it is the single most important project over the next decade to grow interest in Jonesboro.
Are there areas of concern in the current market?
We are in a rising interest-rate environment, which always creates a little unpredictability in commercial real estate. It seems like real estate values and construction costs are higher than ever. If interest rates trend up, either land values or construction prices must adjust downward to keep growth steady. The market will need time to adjust.
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One area of concern specifically in the Jonesboro market is the lack of skilled people for hire. It feels awkward to address this, but if we had a major industrial announcement of several hundred new jobs, several CEOs of existing industries could not welcome the opportunity without feeling the pinch of competition for employees. We do not have enough engineers, physicians and other skilled professionals to fill the jobs currently available. This is a good problem, but a problem nonetheless.
What’s your favorite part of commercial real estate?
I love growing portfolios for my investment clients. I love taking a cool concept and growing the project throughout the state and then throughout the country. I love helping communities grow. I love that no two days in my business have ever been the same. And last, but most important, I love the flexibility this industry has provided for my family. My faith and family have been, and will always be, more important to me than what I do for a living. The real estate world has allowed me to travel with my family and create my own schedule.