May 21, 2019

Have an Idea to Help the Homeless? Neighborhood COAH for Shelter is Looking for the Next Big Idea to Help NY’s Homeless


NCS's NEXTGEN Award recognizes an emerging scholar or practitioner who has an innovative approach to addressing NY's homelessness with a $5K stipend.

NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES, June 3, 2019 / -- The Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter (NCS), a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to providing housing and support for homeless New Yorkers since 1982, is looking for the next big idea in fighting homelessness in the city.

NCS has announced the launch of the inaugural NextGen Innovation Award, a new initiative designed to advance creative strategies for alleviating homelessness.

The award recognizes an emerging scholar or practitioner who has an innovative approach to addressing issues related to homelessness in New York and carries a $5,000 stipend to help bring the winning project to fruition.

“It is the mission of NCS to model and implement services that transform the lives of people struggling with homelessness,” said Executive Director Ann L. Shalof, who announced the NCS NextGen Innovation Award at the NCS Spring Benefit held May 2019 at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.

“To that end, the NextGen Award, the signature initiative of the NCS NextGen Committee, will serve a dual purpose: to be an incubator for actionable ways to reduce and prevent homelessness, and to foster a new generation of community leaders who are committed to improving housing stability in New York City,” she added.

Don Peebles is Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation and an active political supporter and fundraiser in the national arena. He also serves as Chair of NCS’s Selection Committee and was a featured speaker at the Spring Benefit. “I encourage the private sector to do more to help alleviate homelessness. Businesses must help to create more opportunities, programs and initiatives to help the homeless find a pathway to housing, jobs and self-worth,” said Peebles.

Candidates (individuals or groups) who wish to submit a project can learn more and find an application at Deadline is October 15, 2019.

The winner will be selected in December 2019 and announced in early 2020.

• Over 100,000 New Yorkers are forced out of their housing within a year by evictions, building foreclosures, building sales, or building condemnations. Nearly one in seven of these is a child under age 13- Poverty Tracker

• NEXTGen Award Application Deadline is OCT 15, 2019

About NCS
Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter (NCS) provides housing and support to help transform the lives of homeless New Yorkers. Founded in 1982, NCS has been a model of community responsiveness to homelessness, earning a reputation for designing and implementing successful strategies. These have yielded positive results for homeless people, many with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

NCS was a pioneer in creating permanent supportive housing for adults as well as programs specifically for homeless young adults and youth aging out of foster care. NCS also conducts research to inform practices and improve services for chronically homeless individuals. Cutting-edge investigation has led to programmatic advances, including development of Chance for Change, a unique treatment program designed to address the overlapping challenges of homelessness and addiction.


May 15, 2019

Legacy Building with Don Peebles III

Don Peebles III talks about his entry into real estate and carving his own path as a real estate magnate. He also discusses embracing the opportunity, the challenges of legacy, honing  his leadership skills, keys to maintaining a healthy mental well-being, and his passion for developing affordable housing. Listen to the episode here.

May 7, 2019

Real Estate Gives Back: Don Peebles Champions Economic Equality

Through his development business and his philanthropic efforts, the Peebles Corp. CEO lifts up students, budding entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses.


By Sibley Fleming

Peebles Corp. founder Don Peebles wants to bridge the U.S. wealth and academic achievement gap that continues to separate the country’s haves and have nots.

“There’s a big wealth disparity in the country, a significant income disparity,” said Peebles, whose personal wealth was estimated to be around $700 million by Forbes in 2015 and whose current company portfolio of active and completed developments comes to more than 10 million square feet and $8 billion in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “I think a large part of [that disparity] originates through our education system, and I think the public education system in many major cities around the country has failed low-income kids.”

Peebles also believes that the business community has a significant role to play in providing a solution―not just through monetary donations but through business practices. Peebles Corp., for example, operates under a philosophy of “affirmative development.” That means the company seeks to be inclusive and executes on that intention by setting an internal goal of awarding 35 percent of all of its construction contracts to women- and minority-owned firms.

Historically, the company has reached a level of 25 percent minority- and women-owned business contracting. Increasing the goal to 35 percent is significant considering the Peebles project pipeline currently totals more than $3 billion.

“We don’t consider that philanthropic,” Peebles explained. “That is part of how we do business.”


On a purely philanthropic level, Peebles focuses a lot of energy on early education. For instance, Peebles Corp. helped to build, fund and support a school called CARE Elementary in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, one of the poorest communities in the city, where students come from families struggling with economic and substance abuse issues not to mention homelessness. The school helps prepare students to build a better life for themselves and to compete academically.

“More than anything else we help by providing the construction manpower as well as dollars to build the facility,” Peebles said. “With a budget of just a few million dollars, you can really make an impact in the community.”

And Peebles doesn’t appear to miss many opportunities to make an impact. In downtown Los Angeles, his company is working on an early childcare facility that will be part of its $1.6 billion Angels Landing project that Peebles is developing with MacFarlane Partners and local developer Claridge Properties. This project features one of the tallest buildings in the Western U.S. at 64 stories,  a second tower that will reach 46 stories, two luxury hotels (SLS and Mondrian flags), apartments, condos, retail and entertainment.

The daycare element of Angels Landing will serve people who work in downtown Los Angeles, where daycare and school options are limited, Peebles explains.

At the high school level, Peebles Corp. financed a hospitality entrepreneurship academy within The Hospitality High School of Washington, D.C., that taught hospitality management and operations, as well as ownership of hospitality businesses. The school opened in 1998 and closed in 2016 when the program was taken over by the D.C. public school system. The company is currently looking at ways to create similar projects in all of the markets it does business. And finally, Peebles endows scholarship programs and provides scholarships for students at various universities.

In addition to money and leadership, Peebles takes hands-on mentorship seriously. Every day he tries to email, talk to or meet with an aspiring or emerging entrepreneur to give guidance and advice on how to grow, develop or build businesses, and he regularly speaks at universities on the same topic. “I’m an active business person when it comes to reaching out to the younger generation and emerging entrepreneurs,” he confirms.

One of the earliest examples of Peebles mentorship took place some 30 years ago when he met a high school student who was working on a janitorial crew cleaning his offices. The young man was the son of a single mother who had a government day job and another part-time job cleaning offices to make ends meet. After he finished high school, Peebles hired him as a parking lot attendant in the first building that Peebles built. From that vantage point, the now parking lot attendant noticed Peebles’ frustration with his janitorial services company and told Peebles he thought he could do a better job.

Peebles helped set the young entrepreneur up in business and ended up giving him a contract for that building (which he still holds today) as well as contracts to clean other Peebles buildings in the D.C. area. Peebles also helped the man buy a house out of foreclosure and renovate it (It’s now worth 10 times the original price, Peebles notes).

The inclination toward generosity and compassion may be attributed to Peebles’ late mother, Yvonne Willoughby-Poole, a residential broker and appraiser who regularly gave of her time teaching real estate classes and trying to help others find opportunities to get ahead. “I remember as a kid a woman who cleaned our house while my mother worked and my mother encouraged her to get her real estate license, trained her and hired her at her company, and she became a real estate agent,” Peebles recalled.

Being a minority who learned the real estate business from a woman gives Peebles “insight” when it comes to defining what it means to be a good corporate citizen and a good member of the community, he said.

Today, Peebles shares his philanthropic dreams with his wife and best friend, Katrina, a successful design and PR executive and philanthropist in her own right. “She’s actively involved in our business and has goals of her own in terms of philanthropy. So, we’ve been able to work hand-in-hand together because ultimately our objectives are similar,” he said.

Like Peebles, his wife of 27 years is also dedicated to encouraging large institutions, like JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, to give financially and to bring in authors to read to students and entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds to talk to students about their careers paths. “A big part of what I’ve done as an entrepreneur, and what my company has done, proves that the American economy works,” he said. “It may be a bit harder but it works.”

And, despite his involvement in politics, including serving as a member of President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee for the president’s 2008 election and 2012 reelection campaigns, Peebles maintains that the private sector offers the solution to income inequity. “My message to other entrepreneurs and business people is that we all have to take responsibility for making our society a better place.”

During the next six months, Peebles will model for the American commercial real estate business community what it means to “take responsibility” as he launches an emerging developers fund to finance equity for projects in the $10 million–$50 million range for minority and women-owned real estate companies in early stages.

April 30, 2019

Peebles Selects Operator of Standard in NYC to Run 1801 Vine

The operator of the Standard Hotel, which straddles New York’s High Line, has a deal to run the historic Family Court building near Logan Square after its conversion into a luxury hotel.

Journal Hotels, which also owns the Mondrian Park Avenue hotel in New York and the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel in Los Angeles, has been contracted by developer Peebles Corp. to operate its planned hotel at 1801 Vine St., Peebles chief executive R. Donahue Peebles said Monday.

The 203-guest-room hotel in the 78-year-old Beaux Arts building will have a similar boutique vibe to the city’s Monaco and Palomar hotels run by Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group Inc., Peebles said, “but with a bit more New York, L.A. to it.”

Peebles, whose Coral Gables, Fla.-based company was awarded the project in 2014 after a competitive bidding process, said the redevelopment work could begin as soon as late June, provided it is successful in obtaining at least $1.5 million in additional grant funding sought from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

The funding shortfall that the grant money would fill is the result of plan adjustments needed to qualify for Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives and changes to the incentive program from the 2017 tax law that made it less valuable, Peebles said.

The courthouse hotel, which has yet to be named, will include event space, as well as restaurants and bars. Peebles said that at least some of these venues will be managed by Journal, but that it has been discussing options with restaurant groups — including ones based in Philadelphia — as well.

Other hotels owned or operated by Journal, which is based in New York, include the Ambassador Chicago; the Two Bunch Palms resort in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.; and Hotel G San Francisco.

January 25, 2019

With more funding, developer eyes June construction date for old Family Court

Curbed Philadelphia

The plan to turn the old Family Court building by Logan Square into a boutique hotel took a step forward recently, when developers Peebles Corp., received $2 million more in state and city funding needed to complete the project.

The news means they’re looking at a late June start date for construction, Don Peebles, chief executive of Peebles Corp. told Curbed Philly Thursday. The recent funding, which they were awarded at the end of 2018, brings the total amount they’ve received to $3.5 million, almost a third of their $10 million goal. But Peebles is hopeful that they will be awarded the rest of the assistance this year.

“We’re on schedule and moving along... proceeding in good faith that we will receive the full funding,” he added.

Right now the group is in the process of finishing up designs for the beaux arts building at 1801 Vine Street, which has been unoccupied since 2014. They envision a boutique hotel with 220 rooms, a roof terrace, lounge, and spa. Because the building is designated as an historic site, there are parts of the structure they’ll have to preserve, like the facade and the main floor, which Peebles said will become banquet space. They’re also looking at incorporating some co-working offices into the design, he said.

It’s been a long road for the building, which was constructed in the 1930’s. It was sold to Peebles Corp. in 2014, but the group quickly hit a roadblock when they tried to fund the hotel partly through the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. They were disqualified from the program over concerns that construction would negatively alter the historic building. The plan got back on track last year, when they received $1.5 million worth of funding, wrote at the time, but the delays had brought the cost of the project up to $105 million.

Now there’s an end in sight; Peebles said that if everything goes according to plan, they should be finished with the project in two years.

View Curbed Philadelphia article here

January 16, 2019

Don Peebles Discusses Real Estate’s Diversity Problem with the Commercial Observer

By Chava Gourarie

In the beginning of 2018, the newly installed chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, William Rudin, announced that diversity was a key item on the organization’s agenda.

Rudin’s direction came during a political climate that has forced a reckoning in real estate, and many other industries over the inclusion and representation of women, people of color and other underrepresented minorities. Currently, REBNY’s membership and upper echelons are representative of the industry: they are overwhelmingly white and male, and are therefore wholly unreflective of the city in which they operate.

Per Rudin, REBNY is determined to be a leader in making a change in the status quo. “Increasing diversity is a priority for the real estate industry and we are expanding our efforts on multiple fronts,” Rudin said at the group’s annual banquet last year.

Those efforts would be directed at every level of the industry, Rudin said, starting from education and recruitment at the entry level to better representation at the executive level.

A year in, the organization has taken several preliminary steps to achieve that change, but has yet to implement any initiatives. John Banks, the president of REBNY, said the organization was in the research stage and would be rolling out specific programs in the coming months.

“Over the last year, we’ve been engaged in many activities, a lot of research to determine what the best practices are,” Banks, who is the organization’s first black president, told Commercial Observer. “We’ve been meeting with a variety of stakeholders and other groups and we are in the real estate space trying to work on diversity.”

A key issue, Banks said, is increasing awareness and education at the ground level so that more women and minorities enter the business. “One of the data points that we’ve come up with in our research and part of the issue is that certainly high school graduates and many folks in college don’t think of the real estate industry as a career path,” Banks said.

The group leading the effort is the newly created Diversity Working Group, co-chaired by CBRE’s Darcy Stacom and Bernard Warren, the president of Webb & Brooker, one of a handful of people of color on REBNY’s 146-member board of governors.

Amy Rose, the CEO of Rose Associates, and one of five women on REBNY’s executive committee, is a member of the working group. Rose stressed the need to address diversity at every level, beginning with expanding the pool of talent, while also highlighting the diversity that already exists.

“How are we fostering and attracting talent, and how do you develop it so they can someday be leadership?” Rose said. “You have to grow and develop the talent pool, so then they will have that seat at the table.”

To that end, REBNY is working with groups that focus on job placement, internships and training in areas like construction and management.

However, not everybody has been impressed by REBNY’s efforts. Don Peebles, the Chairman & CEO of Peebles Corporation, and one of the city’s highest-profile black developers, said the focus on job placement was paternalistic and dismissive of the existing talent.

“There are qualified minorities, as qualified as anybody out there, to build buildings in New York City,” Peebles said. “There are qualified construction managers, there are certainly qualified architects, and qualified brokers. But at the end of the day they don’t get an opportunity.”

Opening the doors to more women- and minority-owned business is an urgent issue, Peebles said. He was on REBNY’s board of governors in the past, but withdrew before his two-year tenure was over in 2016, out of frustration with the way the issue was ignored. “Real estate and construction in New York City is an entrepreneurial business that provides tremendous opportunity for economic growth and wealth creation and job generation,” he said, “But it’s not reflective in any way of the demographics of New York City.”

He said the key issues that need to be addressed are access to capital and access to opportunity, and that requires effort on the part of banks, and the public sector, as well as from industry players. “Unfortunately, people hire who they’re comfortable with,” he said.

Another area of focus is increasing the visibility of women and minorities in top positions at real estate firms. Rose said that making a change at the executive level is crucial. “When you are able to see a person who looks like you or represents you being director of a company or being an executive, then you can see what’s possible to achieve in a career,” she said. “That’s why it’s important for that to exist at the highest level possible.”

In addition, REBNY says it has made an effort to include a woman or person of color on every panel and to highlight and honor their accomplishments at occasions like the annual banquet.

“I think REBNY can use some younger blood and some fresher faces,” Stefani Berkin, the president of R New York (formerly Charles Rutenberg) and a member of REBNY said, but she felt that the organization was headed in the right direction. “I’m already feeling the change.”

But whereas white women have made some progress within REBNY and within commercial estate as a whole, with a steady trickle of women entering the C-suite, minority communities are virtually invisible at the highest levels. At the close of 2018, REBNY’s 50-member executive committee had seven women and one person of color, and the new cohort for 2019 consists of five white men.

That’s representative of the industry. “I don’t know of one major company that’s a member of REBNY that has any diversity when it comes to minorities, especially African-Americans or Latinos, in the upper management in a company,” Peebles said.

That being said, on the board of governors, the cohort of 10 new members in 2019 is more diverse than usual, and includes several women and minority members, bringing the total to 19 women, and fewer than 10 people of color, on the roughly 151-member board.

It’s a step in the right direction.