about fishless desert

who we are

Fishless Desert Development is a multidisciplinary real estate company. We specialize in urban infill and revitalization efforts in Oklahoma and the south-central United States. Our mission is to make American cities better one development at a time by sensible design and focusing on neighborhoods in need of redevelopment.

Fishless Desert was born out of the efforts of J. Elliot Nelson who spent 20 years revitalizing a dilapidated corner of downtown Tulsa. In his career, he has completed over 30 historic rehabilitation projects and over $430mm of urban infill work consisting of multifamily, office, and retail developments. In 2022, Matt Newman joined the company adding his 17+ years’ experience in real estate development and construction management.

From spearheading a master planned, mixed-use development encompassing two full city blocks, to leading the complex financing and historical renovation of one of Tulsa’s most significant Art Deco high rises, Fishless Desert Development have developed or redeveloped some of the region’s foremost buildings and structures.

The Team

Elliot Nelson - Fishless Desert

Elliot Nelson


Elliot is the founder and CEO of McNellie’s Group, a hospitality focused company with a collection of 24 restaurants that pioneered downtown revitalization in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Little Rock.  His restaurant concepts have served over 10,000,000 people in the last 19 years. As principal of Fishless Desert Development, Elliot has spearheaded the Santa Fe Square development in downtown Tulsa which encompasses over 183,000 sf of office & commercial space, 184 unit apartments, 93 room hotel, and 700 space parking garage.

Matt Newman

Vice President of Development

Matt is head of real estate development and investments at Fishless Desert Development. With over 18 years in the real estate and construction industries, he has been the lead on more than $200,000,000 in land development, historic renovation, and infill construction in the Tulsa market. Matt specializes in mixed-use commercial development often requiring zoning use changes and complex capital stacks including local, state, and federal tax credits and incentives.
Marc Chastain - Fishless Desert

Marc Chastain


Marc Chastain started his career in public accounting as a licensed CPA. Throughout his career, Marc has been instrumental in developing and driving growth and profits for companies operating in the real estate development, manufacturing and restaurant sectors. Marc has played pivotal roles as President, CFO, and COO in the success of several high performing organizations. Working through multiple debt and equity channels including banks, lenders, private equity and professional investors, Marc has successfully consummated and financed over $140MM in deals.
Sammi Cottongim - Fishless Desert

Sammi Cottongim

project manager

Sammi brings over a decade of invaluable experience in project management. As Chief of Staff at McNellie's Group, a renowned collection of 24 restaurants, she has played a pivotal role in the company's success by spearheading numerous restaurant and real estate projects. Throughout her tenure, Sammi has ensured the smooth execution of initiatives from conception to completion. Her strategic vision and meticulous attention to detail have been instrumental in driving growth and innovation within the organization.

Ready to Start?

Reach out to Fishless Desert.