First Western Properties Inc.

Hightailing It for Retail

Vacant lots don’t scare Leo Solarte. Neither does a less-than-enthusiastic response to his proposals. “You can’t be so afraid of hearing ‘No!’ that you stop having ideas,” says Solarte, 28, a retail property specialist. “And you can’t be too quick to say it, either.” Solarte spends a lot of time scoping out prospective deals. “You can find opportunities in the strangest places,” he says. Solarte was drawn by the varied nature of retail real estate. “One day I’m studying traffic patterns; the next I’m a demographer,” he says. Solarte started on the mortgage side of the business, but found his niche in retail. He’s proud, he says, of  helping turn bare dirt into jobs and amenities for a community. He also enjoys the development aspect, the chance to work with giant corporations and small business owners.