New York has long been heralded as the place to be when attempting to make a mark in the world for virtually any industry. It’s also where those seeking to reinvent themselves — as in the case with of R. Donahue ”Don” Peebles, founder of The Peebles Corporation — go to complete the process. The company is the country’s largest African American real estate development organization with a multi-billion dollar development portfolio. Peebles serves on the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation as well as the National Finance Committee of President Barack Obama.
Peebles, who wrote the best selling The Peebles Principles, recently moved to New York to establish himself in one of the toughest real estate markets in the U.S. Rolling out welcomed him to New York as we discussed corporate responsibility, dealing with potential conflicts of interest and more.
When developing an area how do you treat the existing community and cultural history of that space?
We take the actual social history of the building into account. For example, The Bath Club in Miami Beach historically did not allow minority or Jewish persons to join or use its facilities. When I acquired the property I engaged a historian and applied for preservation and landmark status. I wanted to preserve its history to remind the community just how far it progressed.
How do you balance your political action work from interfering with your real estate company?
I realized early on that politics and business go hand-in-hand, especially on a local level. In real estate I deal with everyone from community board members to the mayor’s office, and so being politically active is essential. That being said, I only support candidates I believe are going to do a good job. Regardless of my business interests, I wouldn’t support anyone I didn’t truly have faith in
Why did you decide to move to New York City and how will it impact the direction of your business?
In order to create a strong presence in New York I needed to physically be here and not delegate responsibilities to another person in my office. The real estate market in New York City jades many people. My approach has always been to look at things with fresh eyes. Since I’ve been here, I have seen about two to three deals a week and I know I’ve made the right decision to relocate.