Barber Commutes From NYC

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 344 views 

Click here for a chart on Barber’s buildings.

Brandon Barber may have left the building, but he’s not deserting his buildings.
The 31-year-old chairman and CEO of The Barber Group who grabbed attention with plans that pushed Northwest Arkansas’ skyline limit is switching scenes to the land of skyscrapers.
Barber is not running away. He’s moving to New York City solely for his son’s health.
Four-year-old Sloan Barber has been diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder, an auditory processing disorder on the low end of the autistic spectrum along with things like Attention Deficit Disorder. Brandon Barber and his wife, Keri Barber, decided their son deserved the best one-on-one attention they could find, and are moving close to one of the top schools in the country.
Despite the move, Barber insists it will actually improve his business because he’ll now focus wholly on finishing $525 million in projects (pared down from a projected $790 million portfolio reported in July). That focus has been narrowed to include mainly commercial and hospitality endeavors.
The Barbers have put their $2.8 million Fayetteville home on the market and Brandon Barber will stay at his two-story pad at the recently opened Legacy Building off Dickson Street when he’s in town.
“I’ll be commuting three to four days per week,” Barber said. “It’s a small world really, with BlackBerries and that direct flight [from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport], people may not even notice I’m gone.”
As for residential, he plans to finish existing subdivisions, but said he likely won’t build anymore $200,000-plus speculative homes since those are not “income producing.” He said the past year was tough even though his company sold between $60 million and $70 million in residential property.
Barber has been able to fly above troubles that are catching up to some residential developers thanks to bond financing, which allows loans to be paid back over a longer period of time.
“We’re just not going to be that heavy in residential anymore,” Barber said. “We’re a building company and we’re going to keep building homes, but our speculation of land development is not going to happen.
“It’s time for commercial and hospitality. That’s what’s fun.”

Cave Dweller
This is a story Brandon Barber didn’t want told, but when his personal residence was listed for sale, rumors surfaced about him leaving town. Nowadays, he actually doesn’t like the limelight although when making the initial push into the development arena, he admittedly didn’t mind publicity.
Barber said he prefers flying below the radar and won’t have any problems with that among the millions in the Big Apple. Keeping his daily life private in Northwest Arkansas shouldn’t be a problem either as one would have to be on top of Old Main with a telescope to see into his two-story condominium at the Legacy Building.
Barber’s Highway 265 office looks like cave with its tall ceiling and black walls. But it’s at the office where signs of his family’s importance loom.
There are a few pieces of traditional art hanging where they should be, but the room is sprinkled with pictures of rock stars, an autographed Tony Romo jersey and marketing posters of projects leaning against the wall. A marker board hangs behind his desk, with scribbled facts and figures that are Greek to anyone except Barber.
Arranged perfectly on a shelf, though, are dozens of photos of his family, Keri, Sloan and soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter Olivia — proof his family stands above all.
“I think we all can get so busy that we forget about family,” he said. “The irony of Sloan’s challenges are that at the end of the day, we can be sitting in a big hotel we’ve just built, but it doesn’t mean anything … It’s all about family.”

Sloan’s Song
The Barbers are shopping for condos in the 1,500-SF to 2,000-SF range near New York’s McCarton School. Sloan Barber is slated to start classes there June 4.
Brandon Barber said the move is “temporary” as the hope is to return his son to mainstream classes after two years. Fayetteville is home to the Barbers, and they plan to return.
While Brandon Barber will be in town almost as much as he’s gone, it’s Keri Barber who he said is making the biggest sacrifice. She’s been the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Top Grossing Residential Real Estate Agent for the past two years, closing on a combined $146 million in that span.
“It took us all of three seconds to decide we were moving, because there’s nothing more important than him,” Brandon Barber said. “She’s the bravest woman I’ve ever met and is the one taking an unbelievable leap of faith leaving her family and friends behind.
“She really wants to focus on being a mom.”
Through a twist of events that included brushes with John Oates of Hall and Oates, the Barbers found the McCarton School. It was Oates, who over dinner at Herman’s Ribhouse in Fayetteville, pointed out the haven for 23 children with special needs in Manhattan’s upper east side. Oates’ son, Logan, also was diagnosed with PDD.
Looking at or being around Sloan, no one would know there was a problem. He speaks two languages, but his word association is off at times. Asked to go to the park, he may reply as if he was going to piano lessons.
“He’s a sharp kid and we believe he’s going to be fine,” Brandon Barber said. “We feel significantly blessed that this will give him the best opportunity to succeed.”

Barber Shop
Brandon Barber’s business will continue to consume a chunk of his time over the next two to five years while he hones in on finishing “five or six significant projects.”
Not counting the recently opened Legacy condominiums off Dickson Street, Brandon Barber said the first dominos to fall will be more retail/restaurant space added at Fayetteville’s Bellafont and Rogers’ Pinnacle Pointe, which is a 50-50 partnership with The Pinnacle Group.
The Westin Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., will be the next thing to move thanks to help from The Barber Group’s Brandon Rains. Then, the Westin in Rogers should be under way.
Pinnacle Pointe was formerly known as Creekside and was the original site of the Westin. The hotel will now be built across Interstate 540 near the Embassy Suites, but will not include condos as first planned, which trims the projected cost from $100 million to $65 million.
Brandon Barber still owns land across 45th Street from the original Westin site and said several restaurants will be announced there soon.
Plans for the Divinity hotel/condo project on Dickson Street have been scrapped because of a pending lawsuit contesting its approval. The Barber Group will re-evaluate its plans for the location.
Residential-wise, Brandon Barber has sold or partnered with others on several lots lately and said he only plans projects with homes under $200,000 in the future, not counting subdivisions he’s already started.
Subdivisions he will focus on are the 200 combined lots in Bentonville’s Versailles and Fayetteville’s Belclaire. Barber said continuing to unload residential and any remaining multi-family property is a top priority.
Brandon Barber recently began Barber Real Estate LLC to sell both his commercial and residential properties. In the process, he took several agents away from Dallas Real Estate Services Inc., the company that had listed his properties and is owned by friend David Dallas.
“There’s nothing dramatic about it and we’re still good friends,” Barber said. “It just made sense with all the in-house projects we have going on.”
Keri Barber, Dallas’ top agent, has handed off her listings to Angie Kestner and Stacey McSpadden. Brandon Barber said the new company will have a dozen agents soon and he hopes to hire between 15 and 18 before stopping.
“I’m going to get a lot of work done here because that will be the focus while I’m here,” he said. “And I’ll probably be spending more family time, because when I’m there, I’ll be focused on my family.”