Post image for Spotlight on R. Donahue Peebles

Spotlight on R. Donahue Peebles

by Minority Fortune

R Donahue Peebles makes major waves in the real estate world. He is the founder of Atlantic Development Corp, which boasts over $4 billion in development deals. The corporation is one of the largest African American owned real estate firms in the country. The founder has negotiated and won several competitive bids over his career. His moves in the real estate world embody what success is.

His Hustle

Peebles was no slacker as he hustled to make it to where he is today. By the age of 24, he was the head of the tax appeal board in Washington D.C. He leveraged contacts he made in Capital Hill to land his first bid on a 100,000 square foot building for $900,000.  That building led to his first successful turnaround of $10 million dollars. He internalized all the major keys to success in the business and applied it to his dealings.

Those lessons would come in use for him to land a redevelopment bid on one of the largest buildings in Miami, the Royal Palm. Despite dealing with unforeseen costs and issues whilst rebuilding the structure, Peebles stuck to the vision. It’s now the largest property managed by an African American owned real estate firm.

Peebles serves as an excellent Grade A model. The man knows his real estate. Luckily, he’s written a few books detailing his experiences: The Peebles Principles: Tales and Tactics from an Entrepreneur’s Life of Winning Deals, Succeeding in Business, and Creating a Fortune from Scratch and The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth. He shares a few words of wisdom with Inc Magazine:


I learned a critical lesson in this first deal — you have to understand what the other side wants and you should try to give it to them. I was able to get the deal because I paid full price. My partners and I have made over $10 million on that property, and it’s still throwing off cash. Your margins shouldn’t be so tight that you have to count pennies.

We’re known as a conservative development company, but I think we’re big risk takers. When we consider a project, we assign it a dollar amount, forecast the rewards if we are successful, and decide what financial risk we are willing to take up front. If we do it, we don’t look back. We don’t go out into the capital markets to finance our projects until after the expiration of that risk, which allows us to own a far greater percentage of our buildings.

I take being a minority businessperson as a responsibility. My grandfather was a doorman for 40 years at a Marriott in D.C. And I’m going to give opportunities to minorities and women, both of whom are underrepresented in my industry. But all too frequently people come up with excuses as to why they can’t succeed. They say it’s too difficult. They can’t get a job. They end up giving up their goals before they have a chance to fulfill them. I could have made a lot of excuses in my career, but the No.1 ingredient to success is to not accept failure.

Peebles has owned his successes. He chose his path in real estate and took it serious. He went forth to create an exceptional real estate firm. He is a great example of what can happen when we put our best into in our passions. We applaud his work, and we encourage you to follow his work if you’re interested in real estate.

*Image courtesy of Reginald F. Lewis.
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