NYC real estate ‘pain’ will linger until the political shift changes: Don Peebles

Inclusivity and Adaptability Are Key to Real Estate’s Future, Panelists Say

NYC real estate ‘pain’ will linger until the political shift changes: Don Peebles

On Jan. 21 the Fordham Real Estate Institute launched a series of panel discussions focused on the future of the commercial real estate industry.

Kicking off the series during a global pandemic, the first panel centered on the potential of the industry to become a leader in the nation’s economic recovery by being adaptable to change, creating a more inclusive workforce, and being responsive to the communities in which they build.

The panel, titled “The Real Estate Workforce: Restarting the Engine and Propelling the Economy,” included Dorothy “Dottie” Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, New York’s largest residential brokerage, and Don Peebles, a developer and CEO of Peebles Corporation. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, joined the conversation with moderator Luis Mirando, chair of the institute’s executive advisory committee and founder of Streamline Realty Funding.

Impact of E-Commerce on Retail Real Estate

The event began with a sobering overview of the current economic landscape provided by Hugh Kelly, Ph.D., the institute’s curriculum chair. He reminded listeners that 9 million jobs have been lost over the last year and some industries, such as retail, were already undergoing a sea change well before the pandemic began.

“You know we talk about preexisting conditions in health care? Retail losses expressed a lot of preexisting conditions; this was already an over-supplied sector, it was one that was in transition, under the threat of e-commerce,” said Kelly.

The increased use of companies Amazon during the pandemic means that retail storefronts may need to be reimagined, he said. E-commerce’s growth has led to a new understanding of essential real estate, such as warehousing. He added that the industry will need to be nimble and responsive to such changes in the market.

Inclusivity Is Good Business

Real estate can help bring about that change at the local and national levels, said Peebles, one of the most successful African American developers in the country who holds a portfolio of more than 10 million square feet worth $8 billion. He added that there is “tremendous expectation” that the industry will be at the forefront of leading the nation the current economic downturn, though that leadership must become far more inclusive than it is now, he said.

“Throughout our company’s history we have done over 25% of all of our contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses; our company’s goal is 35%,” he said. “Our driving force here is that it’s good business to be inclusive, you get a better product, you can be much more impactful.”

Listening to Diverse Communities

By the same token, he said, developers also need to listen to the diverse communities that they build in.

“This is the biggest problem in our industry and why we’re so despised in New York City,” he said. “We basically go into communities and occupy them, we gentrify them, and the economic benefits are given to people who come in and leave.”

He added that in one of the most diverse cities in the world, the industry leadership looks as though it comes from a small white city somewhere in the Midwest.

“We are not a part of the communities and we do not reflect the population demographics of New York City, all you have to do is look at the who’s who at the top,” he said of industry executives.

‘Everyone Should Be Able to Get into the Game’

Herman, whose firm is one of the largest nationwide, said she did not have many female role models growing up, as she lost her mother in a car accident when she was just 10.

“I basically grew up on my own and when I went to college I got married and had my daughter by the time I was 20,” she said. “So I needed to make money.”

She became a certified financial planner and got a job at Merrill Lynch in their real estate division which, she said, was still a “good old boys club.”

“I heard the word ‘no’ millions of times, I’ve dealt with gender issues a million times, and I certainly have failed—I could write a book,” she said.

Herman said she started as an entrepreneur with little capital, bus she was able to convince several backers to join her in an effort to buy her first brokerage firm from Prudential, which she would eventually grow to become one of the largest brokerages in the U.S. She touted the importance of networking outside of one’s comfort zone, and also with -minded women whenever possible. She also stressed the importance of access for everyone.

“It’s not an equal playing field,” she said. “I do think that number one, everybody should have a way to an education. I know as a woman, there are so many single moms who deserve that. Everyone should be able to get into the game.

To that end, the institute launched a scholarship for students from marginalized communities with the goal of raising $250,000 every year for the next five years. The campaign, called the Scholarship 250 Fund, will culminate in 2026 when the U.S. will celebrate its 250th anniversary.

Father McShane agreed with Herman, noting that New York City remains the place where someone from an underserved community or another country can make it to the top of their field, regardless of the industry.

“These are the young women and men who will make America great, the young women and men who made America great all along,” he said. “They’re filled with talent, eager to find their place at the American table, looking, with grit, for a way in.,


NYC real estate ‘pain’ will linger until the political shift changes: Don Peebles

NYC real estate ‘pain’ will linger until the political shift changes: Don Peebles

New York City’s real estate “pain” will linger until the political shift changes, said Peebles Corporation CEO Don Peebles, giving his outlook for the city’s housing market.

Peebles told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on “ Mornings with Maria ” that in the early ’90s New York City was a “very unlivable city and then the city went so far as ultra-liberal as it is to elect Rudy Giuliani and then Michael Bloomberg.”

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Peebles explained that for about two decades the city was governed by a “progressive Republican mayor” and he believes that “it is going to have to get worse before the political shift changes.”

“Right now New York City politics has gone heavily to the left and these Democrat socialists are getting elected in state and city government,” he said.

“So I think there is going to be more of that in this next election cycle, so, I think there is going to be pain first.

” Real estate activity in the Northeast is picking up, but residents still appeared hesitant to move into Manhattan last month.

Residential sales contracts in the Big Apple fell 31% when compared with the same period last year, according to a report by Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants for Douglas Elliman, with the largest decline seen among the most expensive listings.

There was a 75% decline, for example, in signed contracts in the $4 million to $4.99 million range.

On the other hand, activity in the suburbs was booming.

Deals valued at more than $4 million increased six-fold in Greenwich, Conn.

On Long Island, deals valued at more than $400,000 comprised the largest share of annual gains in single-family contracts signed, data showed, and that excludes the expensive Hamptons area.

People wait to visit a house for sale in Floral Park, Nassau County, New York, the United States, on Sept. 6, 2020.

(Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images) New data from United Van Lines also indicated a strong interest in leaving New York City where moves are comparable with the same period last year at a time when fewer people throughout the U.S. are moving.

So far in 2020, 67% of moves throughout the state altogether are outbound, which is a 4 percentage point increase over 2019.

Even moving companies have described an “ insane ” uptick in moves Manhattan.

Peebles said that resident “vacancy is at a record level that will continue to increase as leases roll over.”

“75% of New Yorkers who live in apartments live in rental apartments and those are one-year leases,” he said. “Those are rolling over and as they are rolling over, people are moving outside of the city as far as the Hudson Valley, for example,” Peebles said.

Peebles went on to say that he expects to see “significant distress” as vacancies come to pass.

“It’s a vicious cycle. The budget deficit is going to continue to increase in New York City and New York State,” Peebles said and he added that the city would be forced to make significant budget cuts that would reduce services.

“The city is already very dirty. I think anyone who lives in New York City sees how dirty it is.

The moment you drive in from any other jurisdiction that surrounds New York City, you know you’re getting in New York City when you see all the trash on the sides of the roads.

Crime is up and those things will continue to push people out when their leases roll over and they’ll say, well, I can do better, live better outside of the city,” Peebles said.

Fox News’ Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.

This Piece Originally Appeared in


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