Property Broker Bob Cooper Jr. Says Fort Smith Supports Its Retail


Property Broker Bob Cooper Jr. Says Fort Smith Supports Its Retail
Bob Cooper Jr.
Executive Broker and Partner, Ghan & Cooper Commercial Properties, Fort Smith (Corey S. Krasko)

Born and raised in Fort Smith, Bob Cooper Jr. graduated from Southside High School in 2001 and from the University of Tulsa in 2005. He is a partner and executive broker with Ghan & Cooper Commercial Properties, which was founded in 1998 and offers a full menu of commercial real estate services — leasing, sales, management, maintenance and development.

Cooper and his wife, Carline, have a daughter, Stella Jane, and a son, Robert.

What areas in and around Fort Smith are seeing the most commercial real estate activity? And which areas have gone soft?
Fort Smith as a whole is seeing positive growth throughout the entire city. Rogers Avenue and Phoenix Avenue still tend to attract new commercial developments due to their location and established traffic flow. Land prices for redevelopment on Rogers Avenue have increased in the past few years. This has helped Phoenix Avenue become a new retail and restaurant corridor.

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I believe growth anywhere within or around the city of Fort Smith is positive growth. Slow and steady growth is better than no growth for our city.

We hear a lot about the death of brick-and-mortar retail. What kind of retail changes are you seeing in your region of the state, and do they reflect any national trend?
Retailers locating to Fort Smith tend to develop or lease smaller footprints than they typically would in a larger market. For example, a national clothing retailer in Dallas might lease 20,000 SF, while in Fort Smith the company’s projected pro forma allows it to lease 10,000 SF. I believe Fort Smith will always be a brick-and-mortar retail city and will not reflect the national trends of eliminating the physical storefronts.

What amenities are make-or-break for commercial real estate buyers and tenants? What do they want to put money into and what’s no longer important?
Generally location in our market is the make-or-break factor for commercial developments. Paying a higher price to be in a first-class location generally will help make the business or project a success. Outside of location, project cost is always a factor. Being creative with design and functionality of the building while keeping a project within budget is just as important as location.

What have been the biggest changes in your industry during your career? Are they positive or negative changes?
The most noticeable change that I have seen is the transformation of having everything electronic and available at a moment’s notice. With all the electronic devices consumers use, information about properties and developments can be transmitted to interested parties within seconds. This is a positive direction for the commercial real estate and development industry.