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Real Estate’s Self-Made Mogul

August 30th, 2014 admin


The Bridgehampton, N.Y., home purchased by Don Peebles in 2007 for just under $5.4 million.
Erica Gannett for The Wall Street Journal

As the founder and chairman of a multi-billion-dollar real-estate development and investment company, Don Peebles knows how to hold out for a deal.

“I was sitting in Miami one summer, and it was so hot,” Mr. Peebles recalled. So in 2004, he started to look for someplace cooler—and found an 11-acre compound in Bridgehampton, N.Y., listed for around $20 million, he said. He waited as it came down to $9 million, then $5.95 million. In 2007, he and his wife Katrina paid just under $5.4 million for the home.

“When I buy, I want to be able to feel good that I can sell it in any market and not lose money,” Mr. Peebles said.

Today, the Peebles, who have a 20-year-old son, Donahue III, and an 11-year-old daughter, Chloe, typically spend long summer weekends at their Hamptons home, arriving by helicopter from Manhattan, where the family rents a penthouse in the Financial District. If instead the family is coming from home in Coral Gables, Fla., or Washington, D.C., a private plane takes them to the Hamptons.

Mr. Peebles, 54, grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a car mechanic. His mother worked in real estate to support the family after his parents divorced, giving him an early look into the industry. As a teenager, he began volunteering for political campaigns, and served as a page on Capitol Hill in high school. He left college after a year to work as a real-estate agent and, later, a property appraiser. His early years of political work paid off: At 24, he was appointed by

Marion Barry,

then D.C.’s mayor, as the chairman of the city’s real-estate tax-appeals board.

His Washington connections both in politics and the close-knit world of real estate helped fuel his ascent. In 1987, he broke ground on his first building. His company, Peebles Corp., with offices in Miami and New York now includes a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of condo projects, hotels and office buildings. African Americans are rare in the upper tiers of real-estate development, and Mr. Peebles noted that people would often underestimate him as an African-American man on the rise in the industry. Since there weren’t any industry mentors for him to look up to, “I had to figure it out myself through trial and error,” said Mr. Peebles, who has written two best-selling books on wealth and investing.

In 1992, he married Katrina, a former public-relations and advertising executive who grew up in a military family. They met in Washington—he saw her walking down the street in Georgetown on a summer evening and asked her out. They moved in together a month later. She is now principal and creative director at Peebles Corp.

Together, their development projects include the Royal Palm Hotel, a 420-room hotel in Miami Beach, and the Residences at the Bath Club in Miami Beach, a 1928 private club that was restored and developed with 107 luxury condominiums and six oceanfront villas. The company is currently developing a Standard Hotel in D.C. that will have 59 condominiums and 198 hotel rooms, as well as a luxury condo building in Tribeca, 108 Leonard Street.

“One of the things I like about this business is it gives you the opportunity to live many places,” said Mr. Peebles, who tends to buy homes in the areas in which he’s working.

Mr. Peebles has had a few high-profile stumbles. In Washington, a $47 million office-lease deal in the mid-1990s fell through, and Mr. Peebles took some criticism over his close friendship with controversial former Mayor Barry. The incident ultimately drove Mr. Peebles to start looking for business in Miami, where he relocated with his family in 1998.

While driving his son to school in Coral Gables, Mr. Peebles spotted a Mediterranean Revival-style property under construction that was designed as three homes under one roof. Around 2003, he offered to buy the property unfinished, a deal the owner rejected. In 2004, the home’s contractor called to tell Mr. Peebles the home was still available. By the end of the year, the couple purchased the property for $5.45 million.

“We knew we wanted a compound,” recalled Mrs. Peebles. But the place still needed lots of work—more than they initially realized. “After we closed, I went to look at it and I couldn’t believe I had bought it. I couldn’t go back there.” Mrs. Peebles spent the next year overseeing the home’s completion, which came together just in time for Mr. Peebles’s 45th birthday party, which they hosted at the home just a couple of hours after the construction crews pulled away.

The 17,000-square-foot home on 3½ acres was built mostly of concrete, to withstand hurricanes. But the facade is now covered with vines. “It was so much cement, I had to grow something so it wasn’t just 17,000 square feet of stucco,” Mrs. Peebles said.

Inside there are ornate crown moldings, tile and hardwood floors and a chandelier hanging in almost every room. Interior archways and columns give the home a historic feel, and there’s a walnut wood-paneled library as well as a lake-like saltwater swimming pool out back.

The formal vibe is something almost all of their homes have in common. “Formal is friendly and familiar to us,” says Mrs. Peebles. “It’s just the way we live.”

Their Bridgehampton home, designed by

Peter Cook,

was built in 2000, but has Gilded Age amenities. French doors open to wrought-iron Juliet balconies in the 11,000-square-foot, four-story main house. A dramatic Versailles-esque double staircase off the back of the home overlooks a large, manicured lawn where the family plays football and softball.

A French country kitchen with copper sinks is downstairs on the home’s lower level—a nod to a time when cooking was done by the staff, out of sight of homeowners and guests. The Peebles say they hire a local chef for events and special occasions, but also enjoy doing much of their own cooking. Every morning, the staff sends a tray of coffee from the kitchen up to the Peebles’s second-floor master suite via dumbwaiter. When hosting company in the main dining room, the staff sends up trays of prepared food on the dumbwaiter. Having food prepared by a staff separately downstairs, Mrs. Peebles said, “lets me focus on our family and my guests.”

In 2007, the same year they bought their Bridgehampton home, the couple acquired a 1929 Tudor-style home in D.C.’s Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood, near the vice president’s residence. With espresso-colored hardwood floors, white walls and minimalist window coverings, the home has a more contemporary feel than the other properties. In the family room, there are painted white stone walls and a large abstract painting. Mr. Peebles, who briefly considered a run for the mayor of D.C., described the 10,000-square-foot house as “understated from the front, but very grand in the back.” The couple paid $5.9 million for the home. In 2011, the Peebles hosted an event for President

Barack Obama

there, and they have hosted various political fundraisers at their other homes as well.

In most of their homes, they’ve added a few whimsical and kid-friendly touches that offset the formality. In Bridgehampton, for example, there’s a trampoline out back and a giant abstract painting called “Tree of Life” at the bottom of rotunda. In a bathroom nearby, two tiny bronze figures rappel down a wall.

The Peebles said that perhaps the only thing missing from the Bridgehampton home is the beach. A few years ago, they decided to buy another home in the area that’s right on the water. On a recent afternoon they cruised over to Sag Harbor, about five minutes away, in their Rolls Royce Phantom convertible to their 2,500-square-foot home in a quiet, predominantly African-American enclave.

They purchased the beach house in 2008 at an estate auction, placing the winning bid over the phone for $2.2 million. They spent several months and about $800,000 gut renovating the property. (Their son, 14 at the time, earned money that summer helping with demolition and roof work.)

The three-bedroom, 2½ bathroom home is close to its neighbors and perched a bit above the beach, which is just down a wooden staircase from their back deck. On a small lot, the home has a wood-and-brick exterior that has been painted white. A terrace spans the upper level with a clear Plexiglas railing—a design element “borrowed from the development world,” said Mr. Peebles. Crisp, white-leather chairs and a couch surround a fireplace clad in stone. The master suite has a vaulted white ceiling, and the walls are decorated with nautical map artwork.

Sometimes they’ll retreat to the smaller beach house just for the day, or spend a night or two away from their larger Hamptons home. In the summer they’ll gather with friends on the deck to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the water.

Mr. Peebles said they plan to hold onto the beach house for a few years because his son, who works for Mr. Peebles in addition to attending college, said he wants to save up to buy it for himself.

“I’ll sell it to him at cost,” said Mr. Peebles.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of the slideshow accompanying this article contained editing notes that have since been removed. Also, the master bedroom of the Sag Harbor home does not have grass cloth wallpaper, also mentioned in an earlier version.

Write to Candace Jackson at candace.jackson@wsj.com

Real Estate’s Self-Made Mogul

August 30th, 2014 admin


The Bridgehampton, N.Y., home purchased by Don Peebles in 2007 for just under $5.4 million.
Erica Gannett for The Wall Street Journal

As the founder and chairman of a multi-billion-dollar real-estate development and investment company, Don Peebles knows how to hold out for a deal.

“I was sitting in Miami one summer, and it was so hot,” Mr. Peebles recalled. So in 2004, he started to look for someplace cooler—and found an 11-acre compound in Bridgehampton, N.Y., listed for around $20 million, he said. He waited as it came down to $9 million, then $5.95 million. In 2007, he and his wife Katrina paid just under $5.4 million for the home.

“When I buy, I want to be able to feel good that I can sell it in any market and not lose money,” Mr. Peebles said.

Today, the Peebles, who have a 20-year-old son, Donahue III, and an 11-year-old daughter, Chloe, typically spend long summer weekends at their Hamptons home, arriving by helicopter from Manhattan, where the family rents a penthouse in the Financial District. If instead the family is coming from home in Coral Gables, Fla., or Washington, D.C., a private plane takes them to the Hamptons.

Mr. Peebles, 54, grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a car mechanic. His mother worked in real estate to support the family after his parents divorced, giving him an early look into the industry. As a teenager, he began volunteering for political campaigns, and served as a page on Capitol Hill in high school. He left college after a year to work as a real-estate agent and, later, a property appraiser. His early years of political work paid off: At 24, he was appointed by

Marion Barry,

then D.C.’s mayor, as the chairman of the city’s real-estate tax-appeals board.

His Washington connections both in politics and the close-knit world of real estate helped fuel his ascent. In 1987, he broke ground on his first building. His company, Peebles Corp., with offices in Miami and New York now includes a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of condo projects, hotels and office buildings. African Americans are rare in the upper tiers of real-estate development, and Mr. Peebles noted that people would often underestimate him as an African-American man on the rise in the industry. Since there weren’t any industry mentors for him to look up to, “I had to figure it out myself through trial and error,” said Mr. Peebles, who has written two best-selling books on wealth and investing.

In 1992, he married Katrina, a former public-relations and advertising executive who grew up in a military family. They met in Washington—he saw her walking down the street in Georgetown on a summer evening and asked her out. They moved in together a month later. She is now principal and creative director at Peebles Corp.

Together, their development projects include the Royal Palm Hotel, a 420-room hotel in Miami Beach, and the Residences at the Bath Club in Miami Beach, a 1928 private club that was restored and developed with 107 luxury condominiums and six oceanfront villas. The company is currently developing a Standard Hotel in D.C. that will have 59 condominiums and 198 hotel rooms, as well as a luxury condo building in Tribeca, 108 Leonard Street.

“One of the things I like about this business is it gives you the opportunity to live many places,” said Mr. Peebles, who tends to buy homes in the areas in which he’s working.

Mr. Peebles has had a few high-profile stumbles. In Washington, a $47 million office-lease deal in the mid-1990s fell through, and Mr. Peebles took some criticism over his close friendship with controversial former Mayor Barry. The incident ultimately drove Mr. Peebles to start looking for business in Miami, where he relocated with his family in 1998.

While driving his son to school in Coral Gables, Mr. Peebles spotted a Mediterranean Revival-style property under construction that was designed as three homes under one roof. Around 2003, he offered to buy the property unfinished, a deal the owner rejected. In 2004, the home’s contractor called to tell Mr. Peebles the home was still available. By the end of the year, the couple purchased the property for $5.45 million.

“We knew we wanted a compound,” recalled Mrs. Peebles. But the place still needed lots of work—more than they initially realized. “After we closed, I went to look at it and I couldn’t believe I had bought it. I couldn’t go back there.” Mrs. Peebles spent the next year overseeing the home’s completion, which came together just in time for Mr. Peebles’s 45th birthday party, which they hosted at the home just a couple of hours after the construction crews pulled away.

The 17,000-square-foot home on 3½ acres was built mostly of concrete, to withstand hurricanes. But the facade is now covered with vines. “It was so much cement, I had to grow something so it wasn’t just 17,000 square feet of stucco,” Mrs. Peebles said.

Inside there are ornate crown moldings, tile and hardwood floors and a chandelier hanging in almost every room. Interior archways and columns give the home a historic feel, and there’s a walnut wood-paneled library as well as a lake-like saltwater swimming pool out back.

The formal vibe is something almost all of their homes have in common. “Formal is friendly and familiar to us,” says Mrs. Peebles. “It’s just the way we live.”

Their Bridgehampton home, designed by

Peter Cook,

was built in 2000, but has Gilded Age amenities. French doors open to wrought-iron Juliet balconies in the 11,000-square-foot, four-story main house. A dramatic Versailles-esque double staircase off the back of the home overlooks a large, manicured lawn where the family plays football and softball.

A French country kitchen with copper sinks is downstairs on the home’s lower level—a nod to a time when cooking was done by the staff, out of sight of homeowners and guests. The Peebles say they hire a local chef for events and special occasions, but also enjoy doing much of their own cooking. Every morning, the staff sends a tray of coffee from the kitchen up to the Peebles’s second-floor master suite via dumbwaiter. When hosting company in the main dining room, the staff sends up trays of prepared food on the dumbwaiter. Having food prepared by a staff separately downstairs, Mrs. Peebles said, “lets me focus on our family and my guests.”

In 2007, the same year they bought their Bridgehampton home, the couple acquired a 1929 Tudor-style home in D.C.’s Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood, near the vice president’s residence. With espresso-colored hardwood floors, white walls and minimalist window coverings, the home has a more contemporary feel than the other properties. In the family room, there are painted white stone walls and a large abstract painting. Mr. Peebles, who briefly considered a run for the mayor of D.C., described the 10,000-square-foot house as “understated from the front, but very grand in the back.” The couple paid $5.9 million for the home. In 2011, the Peebles hosted an event for President

Barack Obama

there, and they have hosted various political fundraisers at their other homes as well.

In most of their homes, they’ve added a few whimsical and kid-friendly touches that offset the formality. In Bridgehampton, for example, there’s a trampoline out back and a giant abstract painting called “Tree of Life” at the bottom of rotunda. In a bathroom nearby, two tiny bronze figures rappel down a wall.

The Peebles said that perhaps the only thing missing from the Bridgehampton home is the beach. A few years ago, they decided to buy another home in the area that’s right on the water. On a recent afternoon they cruised over to Sag Harbor, about five minutes away, in their Rolls Royce Phantom convertible to their 2,500-square-foot home in a quiet, predominantly African-American enclave.

They purchased the beach house in 2008 at an estate auction, placing the winning bid over the phone for $2.2 million. They spent several months and about $800,000 gut renovating the property. (Their son, 14 at the time, earned money that summer helping with demolition and roof work.)

The three-bedroom, 2½ bathroom home is close to its neighbors and perched a bit above the beach, which is just down a wooden staircase from their back deck. On a small lot, the home has a wood-and-brick exterior that has been painted white. A terrace spans the upper level with a clear Plexiglas railing—a design element “borrowed from the development world,” said Mr. Peebles. Crisp, white-leather chairs and a couch surround a fireplace clad in stone. The master suite has a vaulted white ceiling, and the walls are decorated with nautical map artwork.

Sometimes they’ll retreat to the smaller beach house just for the day, or spend a night or two away from their larger Hamptons home. In the summer they’ll gather with friends on the deck to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the water.

Mr. Peebles said they plan to hold onto the beach house for a few years because his son, who works for Mr. Peebles in addition to attending college, said he wants to save up to buy it for himself.

“I’ll sell it to him at cost,” said Mr. Peebles.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of the slideshow accompanying this article contained editing notes that have since been removed. Also, the master bedroom of the Sag Harbor home does not have grass cloth wallpaper, also mentioned in an earlier version.

Write to Candace Jackson at candace.jackson@wsj.com

Real Estate’s Self-Made Mogul

August 30th, 2014 admin


The Bridgehampton, N.Y., home purchased by Don Peebles in 2007 for just under $5.4 million.
Erica Gannett for The Wall Street Journal

As the founder and chairman of a multi-billion-dollar real-estate development and investment company, Don Peebles knows how to hold out for a deal.

“I was sitting in Miami one summer, and it was so hot,” Mr. Peebles recalled. So in 2004, he started to look for someplace cooler—and found an 11-acre compound in Bridgehampton, N.Y., listed for around $20 million, he said. He waited as it came down to $9 million, then $5.95 million. In 2007, he and his wife Katrina paid just under $5.4 million for the home.

“When I buy, I want to be able to feel good that I can sell it in any market and not lose money,” Mr. Peebles said.

Today, the Peebles, who have a 20-year-old son, Donahue III, and an 11-year-old daughter, Chloe, typically spend long summer weekends at their Hamptons home, arriving by helicopter from Manhattan, where the family rents a penthouse in the Financial District. If instead the family is coming from home in Coral Gables, Fla., or Washington, D.C., a private plane takes them to the Hamptons.

Mr. Peebles, 54, grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a car mechanic. His mother worked in real estate to support the family after his parents divorced, giving him an early look into the industry. As a teenager, he began volunteering for political campaigns, and served as a page on Capitol Hill in high school. He left college after a year to work as a real-estate agent and, later, a property appraiser. His early years of political work paid off: At 24, he was appointed by

Marion Barry,

then D.C.’s mayor, as the chairman of the city’s real-estate tax-appeals board.

His Washington connections both in politics and the close-knit world of real estate helped fuel his ascent. In 1987, he broke ground on his first building. His company, Peebles Corp., with offices in Miami and New York now includes a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of condo projects, hotels and office buildings. African Americans are rare in the upper tiers of real-estate development, and Mr. Peebles noted that people would often underestimate him as an African-American man on the rise in the industry. Since there weren’t any industry mentors for him to look up to, “I had to figure it out myself through trial and error,” said Mr. Peebles, who has written two best-selling books on wealth and investing.

In 1992, he married Katrina, a former public-relations and advertising executive who grew up in a military family. They met in Washington—he saw her walking down the street in Georgetown on a summer evening and asked her out. They moved in together a month later. She is now principal and creative director at Peebles Corp.

Together, their development projects include the Royal Palm Hotel, a 420-room hotel in Miami Beach, and the Residences at the Bath Club in Miami Beach, a 1928 private club that was restored and developed with 107 luxury condominiums and six oceanfront villas. The company is currently developing a Standard Hotel in D.C. that will have 59 condominiums and 198 hotel rooms, as well as a luxury condo building in Tribeca, 108 Leonard Street.

“One of the things I like about this business is it gives you the opportunity to live many places,” said Mr. Peebles, who tends to buy homes in the areas in which he’s working.

Mr. Peebles has had a few high-profile stumbles. In Washington, a $47 million office-lease deal in the mid-1990s fell through, and Mr. Peebles took some criticism over his close friendship with controversial former Mayor Barry. The incident ultimately drove Mr. Peebles to start looking for business in Miami, where he relocated with his family in 1998.

While driving his son to school in Coral Gables, Mr. Peebles spotted a Mediterranean Revival-style property under construction that was designed as three homes under one roof. Around 2003, he offered to buy the property unfinished, a deal the owner rejected. In 2004, the home’s contractor called to tell Mr. Peebles the home was still available. By the end of the year, the couple purchased the property for $5.45 million.

“We knew we wanted a compound,” recalled Mrs. Peebles. But the place still needed lots of work—more than they initially realized. “After we closed, I went to look at it and I couldn’t believe I had bought it. I couldn’t go back there.” Mrs. Peebles spent the next year overseeing the home’s completion, which came together just in time for Mr. Peebles’s 45th birthday party, which they hosted at the home just a couple of hours after the construction crews pulled away.

The 17,000-square-foot home on 3½ acres was built mostly of concrete, to withstand hurricanes. But the facade is now covered with vines. “It was so much cement, I had to grow something so it wasn’t just 17,000 square feet of stucco,” Mrs. Peebles said.

Inside there are ornate crown moldings, tile and hardwood floors and a chandelier hanging in almost every room. Interior archways and columns give the home a historic feel, and there’s a walnut wood-paneled library as well as a lake-like saltwater swimming pool out back.

The formal vibe is something almost all of their homes have in common. “Formal is friendly and familiar to us,” says Mrs. Peebles. “It’s just the way we live.”

Their Bridgehampton home, designed by

Peter Cook,

was built in 2000, but has Gilded Age amenities. French doors open to wrought-iron Juliet balconies in the 11,000-square-foot, four-story main house. A dramatic Versailles-esque double staircase off the back of the home overlooks a large, manicured lawn where the family plays football and softball.

A French country kitchen with copper sinks is downstairs on the home’s lower level—a nod to a time when cooking was done by the staff, out of sight of homeowners and guests. The Peebles say they hire a local chef for events and special occasions, but also enjoy doing much of their own cooking. Every morning, the staff sends a tray of coffee from the kitchen up to the Peebles’s second-floor master suite via dumbwaiter. When hosting company in the main dining room, the staff sends up trays of prepared food on the dumbwaiter. Having food prepared by a staff separately downstairs, Mrs. Peebles said, “lets me focus on our family and my guests.”

In 2007, the same year they bought their Bridgehampton home, the couple acquired a 1929 Tudor-style home in D.C.’s Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood, near the vice president’s residence. With espresso-colored hardwood floors, white walls and minimalist window coverings, the home has a more contemporary feel than the other properties. In the family room, there are painted white stone walls and a large abstract painting. Mr. Peebles, who briefly considered a run for the mayor of D.C., described the 10,000-square-foot house as “understated from the front, but very grand in the back.” The couple paid $5.9 million for the home. In 2011, the Peebles hosted an event for President

Barack Obama

there, and they have hosted various political fundraisers at their other homes as well.

In most of their homes, they’ve added a few whimsical and kid-friendly touches that offset the formality. In Bridgehampton, for example, there’s a trampoline out back and a giant abstract painting called “Tree of Life” at the bottom of rotunda. In a bathroom nearby, two tiny bronze figures rappel down a wall.

The Peebles said that perhaps the only thing missing from the Bridgehampton home is the beach. A few years ago, they decided to buy another home in the area that’s right on the water. On a recent afternoon they cruised over to Sag Harbor, about five minutes away, in their Rolls Royce Phantom convertible to their 2,500-square-foot home in a quiet, predominantly African-American enclave.

They purchased the beach house in 2008 at an estate auction, placing the winning bid over the phone for $2.2 million. They spent several months and about $800,000 gut renovating the property. (Their son, 14 at the time, earned money that summer helping with demolition and roof work.)

The three-bedroom, 2½ bathroom home is close to its neighbors and perched a bit above the beach, which is just down a wooden staircase from their back deck. On a small lot, the home has a wood-and-brick exterior that has been painted white. A terrace spans the upper level with a clear Plexiglas railing—a design element “borrowed from the development world,” said Mr. Peebles. Crisp, white-leather chairs and a couch surround a fireplace clad in stone. The master suite has a vaulted white ceiling, and the walls are decorated with nautical map artwork.

Sometimes they’ll retreat to the smaller beach house just for the day, or spend a night or two away from their larger Hamptons home. In the summer they’ll gather with friends on the deck to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the water.

Mr. Peebles said they plan to hold onto the beach house for a few years because his son, who works for Mr. Peebles in addition to attending college, said he wants to save up to buy it for himself.

“I’ll sell it to him at cost,” said Mr. Peebles.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of the slideshow accompanying this article contained editing notes that have since been removed. Also, the master bedroom of the Sag Harbor home does not have grass cloth wallpaper, also mentioned in an earlier version.

Write to Candace Jackson at candace.jackson@wsj.com

Real Estate’s Self-Made Mogul

August 30th, 2014 admin


The Bridgehampton, N.Y., home purchased by Don Peebles in 2007 for just under $5.4 million.
Erica Gannett for The Wall Street Journal

As the founder and chairman of a multi-billion-dollar real-estate development and investment company, Don Peebles knows how to hold out for a deal.

“I was sitting in Miami one summer, and it was so hot,” Mr. Peebles recalled. So in 2004, he started to look for someplace cooler—and found an 11-acre compound in Bridgehampton, N.Y., listed for around $20 million, he said. He waited as it came down to $9 million, then $5.95 million. In 2007, he and his wife Katrina paid just under $5.4 million for the home.

“When I buy, I want to be able to feel good that I can sell it in any market and not lose money,” Mr. Peebles said.

Today, the Peebles, who have a 20-year-old son, Donahue III, and an 11-year-old daughter, Chloe, typically spend long summer weekends at their Hamptons home, arriving by helicopter from Manhattan, where the family rents a penthouse in the Financial District. If instead the family is coming from home in Coral Gables, Fla., or Washington, D.C., a private plane takes them to the Hamptons.

Mr. Peebles, 54, grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a car mechanic. His mother worked in real estate to support the family after his parents divorced, giving him an early look into the industry. As a teenager, he began volunteering for political campaigns, and served as a page on Capitol Hill in high school. He left college after a year to work as a real-estate agent and, later, a property appraiser. His early years of political work paid off: At 24, he was appointed by

Marion Barry,

then D.C.’s mayor, as the chairman of the city’s real-estate tax-appeals board.

His Washington connections both in politics and the close-knit world of real estate helped fuel his ascent. In 1987, he broke ground on his first building. His company, Peebles Corp., with offices in Miami and New York now includes a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of condo projects, hotels and office buildings. African Americans are rare in the upper tiers of real-estate development, and Mr. Peebles noted that people would often underestimate him as an African-American man on the rise in the industry. Since there weren’t any industry mentors for him to look up to, “I had to figure it out myself through trial and error,” said Mr. Peebles, who has written two best-selling books on wealth and investing.

In 1992, he married Katrina, a former public-relations and advertising executive who grew up in a military family. They met in Washington—he saw her walking down the street in Georgetown on a summer evening and asked her out. They moved in together a month later. She is now principal and creative director at Peebles Corp.

Together, their development projects include the Royal Palm Hotel, a 420-room hotel in Miami Beach, and the Residences at the Bath Club in Miami Beach, a 1928 private club that was restored and developed with 107 luxury condominiums and six oceanfront villas. The company is currently developing a Standard Hotel in D.C. that will have 59 condominiums and 198 hotel rooms, as well as a luxury condo building in Tribeca, 108 Leonard Street.

“One of the things I like about this business is it gives you the opportunity to live many places,” said Mr. Peebles, who tends to buy homes in the areas in which he’s working.

Mr. Peebles has had a few high-profile stumbles. In Washington, a $47 million office-lease deal in the mid-1990s fell through, and Mr. Peebles took some criticism over his close friendship with controversial former Mayor Barry. The incident ultimately drove Mr. Peebles to start looking for business in Miami, where he relocated with his family in 1998.

While driving his son to school in Coral Gables, Mr. Peebles spotted a Mediterranean Revival-style property under construction that was designed as three homes under one roof. Around 2003, he offered to buy the property unfinished, a deal the owner rejected. In 2004, the home’s contractor called to tell Mr. Peebles the home was still available. By the end of the year, the couple purchased the property for $5.45 million.

“We knew we wanted a compound,” recalled Mrs. Peebles. But the place still needed lots of work—more than they initially realized. “After we closed, I went to look at it and I couldn’t believe I had bought it. I couldn’t go back there.” Mrs. Peebles spent the next year overseeing the home’s completion, which came together just in time for Mr. Peebles’s 45th birthday party, which they hosted at the home just a couple of hours after the construction crews pulled away.

The 17,000-square-foot home on 3½ acres was built mostly of concrete, to withstand hurricanes. But the facade is now covered with vines. “It was so much cement, I had to grow something so it wasn’t just 17,000 square feet of stucco,” Mrs. Peebles said.

Inside there are ornate crown moldings, tile and hardwood floors and a chandelier hanging in almost every room. Interior archways and columns give the home a historic feel, and there’s a walnut wood-paneled library as well as a lake-like saltwater swimming pool out back.

The formal vibe is something almost all of their homes have in common. “Formal is friendly and familiar to us,” says Mrs. Peebles. “It’s just the way we live.”

Their Bridgehampton home, designed by

Peter Cook,

was built in 2000, but has Gilded Age amenities. French doors open to wrought-iron Juliet balconies in the 11,000-square-foot, four-story main house. A dramatic Versailles-esque double staircase off the back of the home overlooks a large, manicured lawn where the family plays football and softball.

A French country kitchen with copper sinks is downstairs on the home’s lower level—a nod to a time when cooking was done by the staff, out of sight of homeowners and guests. The Peebles say they hire a local chef for events and special occasions, but also enjoy doing much of their own cooking. Every morning, the staff sends a tray of coffee from the kitchen up to the Peebles’s second-floor master suite via dumbwaiter. When hosting company in the main dining room, the staff sends up trays of prepared food on the dumbwaiter. Having food prepared by a staff separately downstairs, Mrs. Peebles said, “lets me focus on our family and my guests.”

In 2007, the same year they bought their Bridgehampton home, the couple acquired a 1929 Tudor-style home in D.C.’s Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood, near the vice president’s residence. With espresso-colored hardwood floors, white walls and minimalist window coverings, the home has a more contemporary feel than the other properties. In the family room, there are painted white stone walls and a large abstract painting. Mr. Peebles, who briefly considered a run for the mayor of D.C., described the 10,000-square-foot house as “understated from the front, but very grand in the back.” The couple paid $5.9 million for the home. In 2011, the Peebles hosted an event for President

Barack Obama

there, and they have hosted various political fundraisers at their other homes as well.

In most of their homes, they’ve added a few whimsical and kid-friendly touches that offset the formality. In Bridgehampton, for example, there’s a trampoline out back and a giant abstract painting called “Tree of Life” at the bottom of rotunda. In a bathroom nearby, two tiny bronze figures rappel down a wall.

The Peebles said that perhaps the only thing missing from the Bridgehampton home is the beach. A few years ago, they decided to buy another home in the area that’s right on the water. On a recent afternoon they cruised over to Sag Harbor, about five minutes away, in their Rolls Royce Phantom convertible to their 2,500-square-foot home in a quiet, predominantly African-American enclave.

They purchased the beach house in 2008 at an estate auction, placing the winning bid over the phone for $2.2 million. They spent several months and about $800,000 gut renovating the property. (Their son, 14 at the time, earned money that summer helping with demolition and roof work.)

The three-bedroom, 2½ bathroom home is close to its neighbors and perched a bit above the beach, which is just down a wooden staircase from their back deck. On a small lot, the home has a wood-and-brick exterior that has been painted white. A terrace spans the upper level with a clear Plexiglas railing—a design element “borrowed from the development world,” said Mr. Peebles. Crisp, white-leather chairs and a couch surround a fireplace clad in stone. The master suite has a vaulted white ceiling, and the walls are decorated with nautical map artwork.

Sometimes they’ll retreat to the smaller beach house just for the day, or spend a night or two away from their larger Hamptons home. In the summer they’ll gather with friends on the deck to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the water.

Mr. Peebles said they plan to hold onto the beach house for a few years because his son, who works for Mr. Peebles in addition to attending college, said he wants to save up to buy it for himself.

“I’ll sell it to him at cost,” said Mr. Peebles.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of the slideshow accompanying this article contained editing notes that have since been removed. Also, the master bedroom of the Sag Harbor home does not have grass cloth wallpaper, also mentioned in an earlier version.

Write to Candace Jackson at candace.jackson@wsj.com

The Big Unit Will List his Big House for $25 Million

August 30th, 2014 admin


Randy Johnson will list his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., for $25 million.
Dino Tonn

The Big Unit has a big house—and it is about to go on the market for a big asking price.

On Monday, retired Major League Baseball pitcher

Randy Johnson

will list his 25,000-square-foot Paradise Valley, Ariz., estate for $25 million.

The three-story Mediterranean-style home is on 5-acres and has seven bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. The room that currently serves as Mr. Johnson’s office has wood-paneled walls, an adjoining poker room and a window that overlooks a three-car display garage for collectible cars. (There is also a separate eight-car motor court.) Other amenities include a sports memorabilia display room, a pet suite with a washing station and a play area and a game room with a Western-themed billiards parlor and bar.

On the lower level of the home there is a 20-seat movie theater with stadium-style seating, a working ticket booth and a marquee. The home also has a recording studio, a separate stage with lighting and sound equipment and a collector’s musical instrument showroom, which currently displays guitars.

The property includes a 1,746-square-foot separate fitness facility with a locker room and showers as well as a tennis court. There is also a swimming pool with a two-story water slide.

Mr. Johnson and his wife, Lisa, spent more than three years building the home, says listing broker

Robert Joffe,

of the Joffe Group at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. According to public records, the Johnsons purchased the property in 2003 for $2.7 million. Mr. Joffe says they spent more than $30 million building out the property, which also includes a large guesthouse and resort-like grounds.

“It’s truly a family home,” says Mr. Joffe, who shares the listing with

Jonathan Friedland.

“This was truly a labor of love… it was kind of [Mrs. Johnson's] dream and her inspiration.” Mr. Joffe says the Johnsons, who couldn’t be reached for comment, are selling because two of the couple’s four children have left home, and the family is looking to downsize.

According to Trulia.com, the most expensive home sale ever publicly recorded in Paradise Valley was a 10,850-square-foot home that sold in 2006 for $10.2 million. The priciest listing on the market today is a 16,370-square-foot home asking $30 million. Mr. Joffe says there really aren’t comparable sales to this property, and that the list price was determined by taking into account what it cost to build the home and current market conditions.

Nicknamed the Big Unit, Mr. Johnson, a 6-foot-10-inch tall left-handed pitcher, played 22 seasons for teams including the New York Yankees, the San Francisco Giants, the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros. From 1999 to 2004, he played for the Arizona Diamondbacks, leading the team to its first World Series win in 2001 against the Yankees. The five-time Cy Young Award winner retired in 2010.

Religion’s Effect on Real Estate

August 30th, 2014 admin

Shaw Nielsen

Call it the halo effect for real estate.

A study of the housing market in Hamburg, Germany, found that condos located between 100 to 200 meters, or 109 to 219 yards, away from a place of worship listed for an average 4.8% more than other homes. The effect was similar across all religious buildings studied, including churches, mosques and temples.

“It’s something we find for other amenities, as well,” said

Wolfgang Maennig,

a professor at the University of Hamburg Department of Economics and Social Sciences and co-author of the report. He likens the price bump to perks such as proximity to public transportation and sports arenas.

But live too close to the religious building—within 100 meters—and the premium is erased, they found. Sounds associated with houses of worship are only part of the problem. The effect of bell ringing, for example, wasn’t statistically significant, he said.

The article, in the journal Growth and Change, studied the listing prices of 4,832 condo units in Hamburg between 2002 and 2008, and measured their distance to places of worship. The study controlled for variables such as access to jobs, neighborhood quality and property type.

Homeowners might value proximity to places of worship because they often offer community programs for children and the elderly.

“Even if you don’t need it, it’s an option,” Dr. Maennig said. Deconsecrated and converted churches had the same effect on condo prices, suggesting that home buyers value the view. After all, Hamburg is filled with beautiful, centuries-old churches, he said.

Whether the same applies to U.S. markets is unclear. A case study in Contemporary Economic Policy in 2012 looked at the effect of a newly built Mormon temple in Omaha, Neb., on home-sale prices. After comparing prices before and after the temple was completed in 2011, no noticeable bump was found, said co-author

Eric Thompson,

associate professor of economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Still others praise the value of religious buildings. “I have a lot of clients who purely base their searches on where their church is,” said

Peter Lane,

an agent with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, D.C., who lists multimillion-dollar homes. Churches make great neighbors, he said, “If you don’t mind a bit of noise or church bells.”

The ‘Shoffice’ Solution

August 30th, 2014 admin

A 75-square-foot shoffice by Platform 5 Architects was built in northwest London for about $116,000.
Alan Williams

In prime London, $1 million will buy a home measuring just 271 square feet, according to real-estate firm Knight Frank. Simply put, space has become one of the British capital’s greatest luxuries.

Now, homeowners who have already maximized the square footage in their attics and basements are increasingly eyeing their backyards. The long, skinny gardens behind London’s archetypal terraced houses can prove difficult to landscape, yet are perfect for building anything from an extra living room to a gym, a media room, an office or a play space.

These small but high-end backyard structures have been dubbed “the shoffice”—a cross between a shed and an office.

In one example, Platform 5 Architects built a 75-square-foot pavilion for a family living in the high-end neighborhood of St. John’s Wood in northwest London.

Prefabricated backyard structures by 3rdSpace can go up in a week. The cost is typically lower, too, but prices don’t include delivery, site preparation and utility hookups.
3rdSpace

The 3rdSpace pre-fab shoffice is used by one family as a home office and library.
3rdSpace

“The clients were having another child and they needed more space—the husband needed an office to work in,” explained architect

Patrick Michell,

a partner at Platform 5. “They had already done their house up beautifully. They are interested in art and design, and they also wanted to have something beautiful and bespoke in the garden.”

Mr. Michell designed a curved, sculptural structure and clad both the exterior and interior walls with American oak. Inside, he outfitted the space with storage and a cantilevered desk. The shoffice, built in 2012, cost the homeowners about £70,000, or $116,000.

In Canonbury, another north London neighborhood,

Paolo Cossu,

director of Paolo Cossu Architects, in 2011 created a contemporary space in the 111-foot by 13-foot backyard of a Georgian terraced house. The owners wanted a multi-use space, somewhere to store their vintage Porsche, an area to be used as a pottery studio and play space for their children. Despite the age of their house, they also wanted a highly contemporary design.

Mr. Cossu created a modular steel-framed building, clad in black-painted wood panels and slightly mirrored glass. When inside, it is possible to see through the windows and into the garden, but from the outside the building reflects the garden’s brick walls, trees and plants. “I like to work with reflections,” Mr. Cossu said. “The room almost disappears into the garden.”

The room is divided into two sections separated by a translucent, sliding partition. The car occupies the back portion, with direct access to the road behind. The front is used by the family. In total, it measures 430 square feet. A similar structure, if built today, would cost between $133,000 and $166,000, Mr. Cossu estimated.

While the high price of such small structures sounds extravagant, the expense is typically less than relocating to a larger house. Recent research by estate agents Savills found the average cost of trading up from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom home in London is about $224,000. This cost rises to almost $3 million in parts of prime London.

Beyond adding coveted living space, backyard buildings can be a good investment because of the added value. Mr. Cossu notes that prices in the Canonbury neighborhood, where his project took place, are up 18.6% in the past year alone, according to government figures.

David Adams,

managing director of prime London estate agent John Taylor, said shoffices make financial sense if they have been well built and furnished. Although a detached room wouldn’t be worth quite as much per square foot as space in the main house, it would command 70% to 80%, he estimates. And in prime London, home values are, on average, about $6,000 per square foot.

One option less expensive than a bespoke garden room is a prefabricated design.

Ben Couture,

a director of the U.K.-based company 3rdSpace, offers a contemporary, wood-and-glass garden room measuring 135 square feet. Mr. Couture’s rooms typically take no more than a week to put up.

The company’s designs feature large windows and Douglas fir cladding, and have been used as everything from a private library for a university professor to offices to teen hangouts. A building of this size costs about $35,300, not including delivery, setup or utility connections.

Homeowners considering a shoffice will find that the British planning system—considered both strict and complicated—offers a considerable amount of freedom. Generally, a structure is allowed if it doesn’t take up more than 50% of the outside space, isn’t to be used as a sleeping area and has a maximum pitched roof height of no more than 13 feet. (A flat-roofed room can be up to 8-feet high.) Anything larger would require building permits.

Meanwhile, the increase in Stamp Duty which took effect in 2012 is encouraging more owners to look at shoffices, says Mr. Adams, the real-estate agent. The levy was increased from 5% to 7% on homes worth £2 million, or about $3.3 million, or more. “If you have got a £3 million [home] and you need more space, it will cost you £280,000 in Stamp Duty to buy a £4 million home, and that is before you pay legal fees, agents fees and moving costs,” he said.

Cost Dispute Halts Work on Brooklyn Apartment Tower

August 30th, 2014 admin

A clash over unexpected costs has halted work on a high-profile Brooklyn apartment tower using an innovative modular-building technology billed as a low-cost approach to high-rise housing.

The project’s general contractor, a division of Skanska AB, said it stopped work Wednesday on the planned 32-story building next to Barclays Center. The company blamed the developer, Forest City Ratner Cos., for a monthslong dispute over costs and…

A Montana Home on the Bitterroot River

August 27th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $2,495,000
  • Location: Hamilton, MT

This farm comes with views, a pond and a tree nursery.—Sarah Tilton

Contemporary Corporate and Personal Retreat

August 27th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $1,840,000
  • Location: Easton, CT

The owners of this approximately 9,600-square-foot home wanted to create a ‘zen retreat’ inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic ‘Fallingwater’ property. — Jackie Bischof