After growing up on the family farm near Leslie, AR and serving a term in the Army, JD Ashley Sr. moved to North Little Rock in 1946. JD pursued several business interests, but his illustrious real estate career began in 1956 when he started working with several partners to develop both The Village Shopping Center in Little Rock, which opened in 1958, and Pike Plaza Shopping Center in North Little Rock, which opened several months later. These two were among the first of the strip type shopping centers developed in the area.
Over his 60 year career, JD Ashley developed numerous properties with multiple partners. Besides many smaller unanchored strip type centers, he also developed multiple strip centers anchored by national retail chains such as Kroger, Kmart, Walmart, and Safeway. In 1979, after graduating from college, JD Sr.’s son Rick officially entered the development business, becoming active in all developments subsequent to that time. In 1987, JD Ashley, Jr also became active in the development business with his father. Due to the growing number of different real estate partnerships established, the umbrella name of “The Ashley Group” was placed over the development operation in the 1990’s, denoting the common thread of the Ashley family being involved in these multiple developments.
The Ashley Group offices at the Lakewood Village Shopping Center in North Little Rock serve as the centerpiece of operations of approximately 25 strip centers, one regional mall, one industrial property, numerous pieces of land held for future development, and multiple free standing single tenant buildings. The Ashley Group continues to develop, construct, retain, and manage their properties following the business model set forth by JD Ashley, Sr.