Paul Esterer serves as Northwest Arkansas President of Newmark Moses Tucker Partners and is one of Arkansas’s leading commercial brokers in the state with a combined 28 years of experience in commercial real estate and banking. Esterer uses his background developing urban living, retail, dining and office space to help clients bring to life large-scale economic development efforts. Also active in local, state and federal legislative and governmental affairs in Arkansas, Esterer is a frequent speaker at economic developer, urban redevelopment and financial conferences across the country. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
1. Describe your first development project and what did you learn from it?
My first project was the Kramer School Artist Cooperative in Little Rock. I worked on this from 1995-1997, and it changed my perspective on how development can both impact and involve the surrounding community. It was a complicated, historic urban redevelopment project in a downtown just beginning its revitalization. I needed to create a project team, foster relationships with a broad coalition, engage the municipality and market the project to potential tenants all while respecting the amazing stories of 100+ years housed in the building.
2. What are the most important components a city needs to be competitive for development?
Any city embarking on a comprehensive and inclusive development initiative needs to constantly cultivate and attract open minded, creative, passionate people. This is the number one ingredient for any successful endeavor, and those people need to have no ego, but have pride in their community and drive to get the job done regardless of difficulty. It is vital to invite the community to be a part of your projects so they take the pride and ownership of the end results.
3. What advice would you give to a first-time developer?
Ask for help! Slow down and be patient! Have fun and hit a single before you try and hit a homerun.
4. What is the role of a dynamic downtown in cultivating community value?
The premium economic value can range from 20 percent to an infinite holistic upside for both the short and long term. Without a dynamic downtown, a community can actually lose economic value. It is important to note that it isn’t just having an economically functioning downtown, but an authentic downtown that speaks to the community identity. This authenticity multiplies the value of place, seeing this It Factor as a driving contributor to property, business and brand differentiation from other parts of the city, region and state.
5. What are some of the biggest challenges to continued growth in Northwest Arkansas?
Private develop is moving faster than the publicly funded infrastructure and is not able to meet the needs of the supply/demand equation from the consumer, particularly for our downtowns. Cities feeling this pressure will begin to put more of that burden on private projects, which contributes heavily to driving up prices and challenging the affordability equation. Our second challenge is dreaming big enough and wide enough to not provide bias limits on opportunities and investments. It is necessary to think beyond the current market and start developing to customer demands, not just what we know how to locally develop and fund.