Bill Schwiehart, a prominent businessman, investor and real estate developer who helped shape the original development of the Rogers Pinnacle Hills interstate corridor, has passed away. He was 64 years old.
According to his obituary published Sunday in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Schwihart died on August 31 at his Dallas residence along with his wife Caroline and son Alex. The obituary does not indicate the cause of death.
The visit will take place at the Pinnacle Hills Cross Church in Rogers on Tuesday (September 7) at 12:45 pm, followed by a memorial service at 2:00 pm. US Representative Steve Womack, R.-Rogers, mayor of the city from 1999 to 2010. will utter an eulogy.
Schwihart made a name for himself in Northwest Arkansas as an auto dealer before turning his attention to real estate development. He grew up working at his father’s gas station in Stockton, California.
According to a 2001 profile published in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, Schwihart was 20 years old when, in 1977, he loaded up his 1967 Mercury Cougar and moved from California to Springfield, Missouri. He invested the $ 10,000 he saved to buy one. – a third percent in the Chrysler dealership in nearby Marshfield. His father, Joe Schwiehart, was already in the Ozarks, having moved to Springfield when he retired.
In 1979, Schwiehart attended Chrysler dealer school in Detroit for six weeks. While there, he and another student went without warning to visit Lee Iacocca at his home. Iacocca invited them inside and talked to them for an hour. The next day, Iacocca applied to the federal government for a loan to save Chrysler from bankruptcy.
“I am back in Marshfield, ready to kill the world,” Schvihart told the Business Journal in 2001. “But [the Chrysler dealership] it just wasn’t a viable operation, so we closed the business. “
Schwiehart later moved to Rogers and bought dealerships from Pontiac, Buick and GMC. His father and Robert Thornton, a former CEO of Walmart Inc., made a deal with him as partners. At the age of 23, Schwihart was America’s youngest Buick dealer. He used the last part of his name for his new business, which was eventually incorporated as Hart Motor Co.
Over the next several years, Schwihart owned various showrooms in northwest Arkansas, including high-end BMW and Volkswagen models.
By the mid-1990s, he focused on development. The car dealership boom allowed Schwiehart to acquire Pinnacle Point, a land parcel that today includes the Pinnacle Hills Cross Church, Lewis & Clark Outfitters and several office buildings. It includes land holdings for the better-known Pinnacle Hills, a retail, entertainment and healthcare hub on both sides of Interstate 49.
Schwiehart was part of the real estate development group The Pinnacle Group, a privately held company that included Thornton, Collins Haynes, Johnny Brian “JB” Hunt and Tim Graham. The Pinnacle Group also played a role in the development of the Pinnacle Hills Promenade, which opened in 2006.
The Pinnacle Group’s partnership was ended in less than amicable ways following Hunt’s death in December 2006. This and the Great Recession were part of Schwihart’s very public and complex fall. There were several lawsuits, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and in 2011, Schwihart was even evicted from his home and office near the Pinnacle Country Club.
Bill and Caroline Schwihart filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in Texas in July 2018, claiming more than $ 80 million in debt, mostly business-related, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Last year, they appealed a Texas judge’s decision to reject their petition for dismissal in bankruptcy.
According to court documents, the Shviharts moved from Arkansas to Dallas in March 2018 for health reasons.
Schvihart was involved in various community groups living in Northwest Arkansas, including the Northwest Arkansas Council, and directed the Rogers Rotary Club and the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce.
Then-Mayor Steve Womack named Schwihart as Regional Officer for Northwest Arkansas Airport when it was organized in 1992. Former Governor Mike Huckabee also named Schwihart as a member of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.