Brent Salter grew up in Conway, working for his family’s construction and plumbing businesses. He is a graduate of Conway High School and has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa with a major in finance and a double minor in marketing and economics. After moving to Los Angeles to pursue post-graduate studies and employment opportunities in the financial markets, Salter returned to central Arkansas in 2007 to help expand the Salter Properties real estate development and property management business.
Salter Properties has been a key player in the revitalization of downtown Conway, including the renovation of the old Smith Ford dealership on Front Street.
In recent years, especially in Conway, mixed-use properties and developments seem to have grown in popularity. Do you see this as a positive shift?
Yes, I certainly do. Conway has the culture of a town that wants to fight the urban sprawl mentality, but that concept contradicts what’s been happening, what’s been easier to execute with regard to real estate development for a while now. With an abundance of vacant land, creating a vertically integrated, dense community takes commitment. Those who have taken that risk have seen the reward, and I expect Conway to see more of this type of development in the future.
Are the mixed-use properties here to stay or just a fad?
I think they are here to stay in some capacity. However, I think the term “mixed-use” is thrown around more often than applicable. I can probably count the true “mixed-use” properties in Conway without taking my shoes off. What we typically see are “multiuse” developments. These are projects that have multiple uses within the same development, not the same structure. But they are definitely a step in the right direction, in my opinion. The Village at Hendrix, for example, has done a wonderful job in the mixed-use space. We are currently in the design phase for our second project there, this one being a mixed-use building on the square. It will have retail space on the ground floor and residential for-lease units on the second and third floors.
Will this mixed-use trend hurt large shopping centers, or is there room for both?
I think there is room for both, especially in this market. Big box retail has demands that are more appropriately met in a large-scale shopping center type setting. Depending on the tenant mix and segment of the market the development is trying to capture, the location will more than likely drive that decision.
What are some other new trends you’re seeing in the commercial real estate/development world?
In the commercial space we are seeing developments that allow patrons to park once and experience all the shopping center has to offer, getting away from having to feel the need to get back into a car just to get to the next store that you can see across a massive parking lot. On the residential side, units are getting smaller on a square footage basis, but the layouts are becoming much more functional and the finishes more high-end.
Do you see another area in Conway that is primed for resurgence?
That’s easy: Dave Ward Drive. This is the closest exit to Little Rock and the major thoroughfare to get you from I-40 to west Conway, where the majority of the rooftops are. Traffic counts are second only to The Commons, and there is land available for development. The Plaza at Centerstone is the new retail center and a number of national franchises have staked claims in the last couple of years. For those who are familiar with Conway, Dave Ward Drive is the next Oak Street, in my opinion.