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SPOTLIGHT ON R. Donahue Peebles – Chairman & CEO of The Peebles Corporation

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
29 August 2023
5 min read
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The Historic Bath Club

The Bath Club

Redefining Real Estate and Fostering Inclusion

R. Donahue “Don” Peebles, a visionary in real estate and community development, is reshaping urban landscapes and promoting economic inclusion through innovative projects. With a dedication to transforming spaces and enhancing diversity, Peebles’ insights offer a glimpse into his impactful journey. He spoke with the International Luxury Hotel Association.

A Paradigm of Innovation: The Bath Club, 108 Leonard Street and the Affirmation Tower

“The Peebles Corporation thrives on innovative real estate investment and development,” Peebles affirms. “Our recent projects reflect our commitment to redefining spaces.”

The Peebles Corporation‘s venture into the private membership sphere, exemplified by The Bath Club, showcases its dynamic approach. This project is a testament to blending luxury and exclusivity, creating an oasis of refined experiences.

The Bath Club residential tower and ancillary amenities
The Bath Club residential tower and ancillary amenities

The transformation of 108 Leonard Street underscores The Peebles Corporation’s commitment to Affirmative Development™ to help empower women and minorities and close the wealth gap. This conversion of a historic office building into luxury residential condominiums exemplifies economic inclusion. “We’re not just reimagining spaces; we’re redefining opportunity,” Peebles asserts. 

Looking forward, The Peebles Corporation is eagerly pursuing another transformative project—the construction of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. This ambitious endeavor, called Affirmation Tower, is planned to be located across from the Javits Center in New York City. With a towering height of 1,667 feet, the Affirmation Tower will house two hotels, a mix of residential offerings, a civil rights museum, and a range of cultural activities. Additionally, the tower will feature an observation deck for visitors to enjoy breathtaking views of the city.

Championing Diversity Through Economic Inclusion

“Our projects echo our belief that opportunity should mirror communities,” Peebles emphasizes. The Peebles Corporation’s actions speak volumes, as they surpassed their goal, allocating nearly 40% of contracting to women and minority-owned businesses in the 108 Leonard Street project.

The corporation’s philosophy resonates through the planned Affirmation Tower, set to grace New York City’s skyline. “This tower is a symbol of inclusivity,” Peebles proudly states. Designed to challenge norms, it’s poised to offer economic opportunities that enrich the city’s diverse tapestry.

R. Donahue Peebles, Chairman & CEO, The Peebles Corporation

Adapting to Transformative Trends

“In today’s urban landscape, trends are reshaping real estate,” Peebles notes. The surge in remote work drives a rethink of office spaces. The Peebles Corporation’s response? “We’re crafting dynamic, tech-savvy offices that foster collaboration,” Peebles states. Their focus is on creating environments where people thrive and connect.

The changing work landscape is set to affect Class B and C office buildings, potentially rendering them obsolete in major cities like New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, and more. “We are actively exploring options to repurpose these structures, including transforming them into hotels,” says Peebles. Drawing from their proven track record, the corporation has effectively converted commercial office spaces to alternate uses in cities such as Washington DC, and New York.

The migration trend to Southern states also captivates The Peebles Corporation. “We’re eyeing opportunities to cater to this demographic shift,” Peebles reveals. Adapting to changing preferences, the corporation envisions projects that enrich lives.

108 Leonard Street, condominiums
108 Leonard Street

Inclusivity Through Affirmative Development

“We’re not just building structures; we’re building inclusivity,” Don Peebles declares. The Peebles Corporation embraces diverse talent, challenging industry norms. Peebles’ personal review of subcontracts ensures accountability, promoting economic inclusion at every level.

One specific initiative that reflects this philosophy is the proactive approach to seeking diverse talent in every aspect of their business, including the construction side. Don Peebles personally reviews and signs every subcontract, a practice that allows him to assess whether the corporation is being inclusive enough. The staff provides a memorandum detailing whether the subcontract is from a women or minority-owned firm and explains the rationale behind selecting or not selecting bids from women and minority-owned firms. This process serves as a roadmap to identify challenges and barriers in the marketplace, guiding The Peebles Corporation’s efforts to break down these barriers and promote inclusivity.

Cultural inclusivity is a cornerstone, enriching their projects. The corporation’s commitment extends to fostering a diverse workforce that contributes multifaceted perspectives.

Guiding Aspiring Professionals

“Don’t just aim high – reach higher,” Peebles advises budding real estate professionals. Practical experience, networking, continuous learning, and a tenacious spirit are invaluable. “Be a student of the business,” Peebles urges, emphasizing the power of knowledge.

Peebles encourages exploration within real estate’s diverse avenues. Creatives delve into design, marketing, interior design, and architecture, while those in engineering and construction find their niche in development. Entrepreneurial opportunities abound, offering a multitude of paths to explore within the industry. Dreaming big, perseverance, and adaptability are paramount. “Opportunities abound; seize them,” Peebles asserts.

Don Peebles’ transformative journey echoes his insights. From innovative projects to economic inclusion, his commitment to enriching communities reverberates through his work. Aspiring professionals, take heed – Peebles’ wisdom illuminates the path to building impactful, successful careers while fostering positive change.

Sharon Hirschowitz
Global Head of Media & Communications
Contact Sharon Hirschowitz