Presented By: Berdon LLP
Breakfast With Berdon: Encapsulating America’s Promise With The Peebles Corporation
Berdon Accountants and Advisors LLP have released the second installment of their Breakfast with Berdon video series, in which, along with Commercial Observer, they offer interviews with commercial real estate’s top executives.
Hosted by Meyer Mintz, tax partner and co-chair of the real estate group at Berdon, the new episode features an interview with Don Peebles, chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation.
Peebles discussed the many barriers he has seen along the way faced by women and people of color.
“While we can now say that opportunity is more fairly distributed, it’s still not equally distributed. Talent is,” Peebles said. “Our challenge is that we have to make up for 450-plus years of extreme oppression. How do we do that? You have to take affirmative steps to change that. That’s why our company’s tagline is ‘affirmative development,’ because we take bold, aggressive steps to incorporate opportunities for everyone. We believe that makes our company better, because we have a broader lens of talent that we draw from.”
This led to discussion of Peebles’ Affirmation Tower, a project Peebles will build with a team that’s 80 percent Black. Designed to rise 1,663 feet, Affirmation Tower would be one of the tallest buildings in the Western Hemisphere.
“The Affirmation Tower is about making good on the promise that America has promised all of us, especially people of color and women, that we have an environment of equal opportunity,” said Peebles. “At Affirmation Tower, which would be 80 percent Black-owned in terms of the developer of the project, we’re committing to over 30 percent MWBE contracting. [The building will house] the NAACP, a cultural center for African-American history, and a civil rights museum. This provides an environment where America and the world can see the history of people of color in New York City and the country, and at the same time be a true economic engine which will generate over $5 billion of revenue to the state of New York in the first 30 years alone and create tens of thousands of jobs. It’s affirming that the promise to be a participant in our capitalistic democracy is real.”
Mintz then asked Peebles what the real estate industry could do to improve opportunities for women and people of color.
“The first thing we have to do is deal with this disproportionate allocation of capital,” Peebles said. “A Federal Reserve study found that $69 trillion was invested in private equity and venture capital. Out of that, less than 1.3 percent was invested in firms run, owned or founded by women and people of color combined. Think about how successful women and minorities have to be to deal with such an unfair system and still succeed. In fact, 30 percent of all new businesses started last year in this country were started by Black women, and yet they walk around with a tin cup to get capital. So the change in our industry has to come from allocators of capital.”
For more Breakfast with Berdon, click here.