By Brian Pascus

Don Peebles may be the most equity-minded developer in the country, creating opportunities for those traditionally left at the commercial real estate industry’s margins.

For every Peebles project, he offers 35 percent of contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses. He has spent a lot of the pandemic, too, fundraising for Peebles’ Emerging Development Fund, which invests in minority- and female-owned real estate companies, with the goal of reaching $450 million.

“We level the playing field for women and minorities — and that needs to be closed,” Peebles, one of the nation’s most successful Black developers, said. “While there’s been much more engagement in terms of racial equality since [last summer’s] protests, it’s been more focused in making lower-income people more comfortable as opposed to providing them access to opportunities to build wealth.”

Peebles also spent the pandemic shepherding several projects across the country.

Even as COVID-19 forced the corporation to abandon plans for a hotel project in Philadelphia that had secured financing, Peebles forged ahead. He’s betting big on cities in general with mixed-use mega-projects totaling $4 billion in the works.

Last spring, he reopened The Bath Club, an iconic Miami beach club, which infamously prohibited Jews and Blacks from becoming members about a century ago. Today, after investing in renovations worth $8 million, there are more than 500 membership applications, far more than what the club can accommodate, Peebles said. This time though, everyone is welcomed — if they can pay: the initiation fee costs $20,000 and annual dues are $18,000.

In Downtown L.A., he’s laying the groundwork for Angels Landing, a $1.6 billion, 2 million-square-foot project that would deliver 63- and 42-story towers. The proposal cleared L.A.’s environmental impact review in March 2021, and Peebles hopes the shiny project will open in time for the 2028 Olympics that the City of Angels is set to host.

In Boston’s popular Bay Back neighborhood, his firm is developing another mixed-use project that will cost more than $500 million and encompass 432,000 square feet. It also involves a complex deal for air rights in the Massachusetts capital.—J.E.

Credit: Commercial Observer