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Real Estate movers and shakers, Prakas & Co, expand to Orlando, Tampa and North Florida

Prakas & Company LogoPrakas & Co, a boutique commercial real estate brokerage led by A. Tom Prakas out of Boca Raton, announces an exciting expansion into the Orlando market.

At the helm will be new Operating Partner for Central and North Florida, James Layson. With over 25 years experience in hospitality investments, Layson has already been tapped to repurpose iconic Church Street Station as a vibrant restaurant and entertainment district.

Layson says, “we are focusing our efforts on bringing unique concepts new to the area, such as our recent lease execution of rising culinary star, Chef Jason Schofield’s new craft and artisan concept: Maddey’s Craft and Cru. We are also close to finalizing a lease that is sure to bring notoriety to Church Street Station. Interest is at an all- time high since its glory days as one of the leading entertainment districts in the country.”

Ranked 4th among the largest US metro areas and 1st in projected population growth, Orlando is the hub of central Florida’s finance and commerce industries and home to an ever-growing technology presence. That means more opportunities for a firm like Prakas & Co and potential investors.

“The Orlando real estate market is about to explode, similar to what Atlanta has experienced over the last five years,” says Layson.

Prakas & Co plans to bring to Orlando the unique industry understanding that they’ve already pioneered in the South Florida market. The team there has sold or leased more than 450 restaurants and commercial properties in the past 15 years. Most notably, they were behind the entrance of Danny Devito and Dwayne Wade into the Florida restaurant scene.

Along with becoming the exclusive brokers for Crocker Partners Boca Center and other major properties, the firm has recently closed on some of the largest restaurant deals in South Florida.

The first was the 15,000 SF lease of the space housing former Miami Beach landmark China Grill, owned by  Jules Trump and Partners, to Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, owners of Chops Lobster Bar. Secondly, the team handled Falcone Group’s sale of the Paramount Oceanfront restaurant site in Fort Lauderdale to LM Restaurant Group. And just last month, Prakas helped NYSE-listed hospitality company, Ark Restaurant Group acquire Shucker’s Island Beach oceanfront restaurant.

Prakas says, “We are excited to open in a thriving market like Orlando, with all of its hospitality venues, our specialty. It’s the world’s largest vacation destination, with over 59 million visitors a year. Having Jim on our team as our Central Florida partner is a big plus.”

Layson’s career has focused on entertainment districts in thriving urban markets across the US. Prakas & Co will be expanding on his experience as an industry leader in the Entertainment and Hospitality arena.

If you’re a signature operator looking for your next opportunity, visit

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Prakas & Co. Appointed Exclusive Brokers for the Boca Center Renovation and Expansion

Photo of the Marriot Hotel and nearby businesses BOCA RATON, Fla., Oct. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — When Tom Crocker developed Boca Center in the mid-1980s, then called Crocker Center, he had a vision of creating a luxurious dining and shopping experience in the heart of Boca Raton. Almost 30 years later, Crocker Partners has repurchased Boca Center to fulfill Crocker’s vision and revitalize the Center. Crocker Partners has tapped Prakas & Co. as the exclusive brokers for the retail, restaurant and hospitality spaces of the extensive renovation project.

“Prakas & Co. is thrilled to be part of this monumental development in Midtown Boca. It is the most important project in the city’s history,” said Athan “Tom” Prakas, owner and broker of Prakas & Co. “Tom Crocker is a true visionary.”

As Crocker Partners moves forward with reimagined plans for the Center and the surrounding area, Prakas & Co. are seeking upscale retail, restaurants, fitness and spa services to fill the available spaces. These spaces range from 1,000 – 25,000 sq. feet. Crocker Partners has also acquired Boca Center’s surrounding properties­— including One Boca Place, the UBS and Wells Fargo buildings and the former Tyco building, among others. The renovation project intends to rebrand Boca Center as one of the finest high-end lifestyle centers in South Florida.

“We are very please to have Prakas & Co. on our team. They are a critical component to revitalizing our leasing program and transforming [Boca Center] into the premiere South Florida lifestyle center,” said Angelo Bianco, partner at Crocker Partners.

Boca Center —located in the heart of Boca Raton just east of the Town Center Mall—currently covers 476,000 sq. ft., including three Class A office buildings in addition to the high-end retail center. This mixed-use destination is one of Boca Raton’s most prominent properties with magnifying potential as Crocker Partners and Prakas & Co. spearhead this expansion and redevelopment. For leasing opportunities and more information, contact Prakas & Co. at (561) 368-0003.

Headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Crocker Partners is known as a leading owner and developer of high profile properties in key markets, with a highly disciplined approach to investing. In all, Crocker Partners principals have owned, managed and developed more than 31 million sq. feet of Class A mixed-use office or residential projects valued at approximately $3.7 billion in major markets in the Southeast and Texas. For more information visit:

Prakas & Co., established in 2000, is Florida’s most respected real estate brokerage for restaurant, nightclub and hospitality properties throughout Florida and other high-profile properties across the country. A recognized leader in restaurant and hospitality site selection, Prakas & Co. has brokered more than 400 restaurant leases and sales in the past thirteen years. Steve Mossini heads up Prakas & Co.’s retail division and will be handling Boca Center’s retail leasing. Prakas & Co. is headquartered at 1800 NW 1st Court, Boca Raton, FL 33432, with a second office located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. For more information, contact Prakas & Co. at (561) 368-0003 or visit

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Burgers, buildings and more coming to Boca Raton soon

Boca Center SignBoca Raton is nearly out of land, so developers are building on small parcels, or redoing existing properties, to make way for new homes and shops.

One shopping center under construction now is Park Place bySchmier & Feurring Properties on Military Trail, south of Clint Moore Road and Office Depot’s world headquarters.


Park Place shopping center, under construction in Boca Raton. (Provided)

In addition to a Fresh Market grocery store, Park Place will host a cornucopia of restaurants, too.

So far they include a new location of the Habit Burger chain, anotherChipotle location and a new player in the South Florida dining market,Burton’s Grill, a modern American concept from Boston.

Also coming: a new location for Raw Juice, the growing Boca Raton-based fresh juice and vegan food eatery, and Phenomenon, a nitrogen-based ice cream concept. Restaurateur Burt Rapoportalso plans Rappy’s Deli, which is billed as a modern spin on the classic Jewish deli.

Shops also are planned for the 64,000-square-foot center, which will open in 2016 and be built in an elegant, contemporary design “with unbelievable areas and energy for customers,” said Ross Feurring, the project’s director of leasing.

“There’s no new development in Boca Raton, so if you want to get in this market, this is one of the only opportunities,” Feurring said.

He’s right. Boca Raton has its longstanding clusters of commerce, such as the Town Center mall in the city’s center, and the mixed-use Mizner Park downtown.

But increasingly, developers are snapping up smaller pieces of land, or redoing existing buildings, to make way for new stores, condos or apartments.

“Boca Raton is developed to a large extent, and now it’s ripe for redevelopment and infill,” said Nader Salour, of Cypress Realty,based in Jupiter.

The 64,000-square-foot Park Place, for instance, sits on just 16 acres. To its south is a vacant 10-acre parcel, now under construction for 298 apartments by Altman Development Corp.

Meanwhile, Salour is working on a mixed-use project also planned for Military Trail near the mall. He and partners own a 10-acre site. On it sits an old bowling alley, now doing business asStrikes@Boca bowling alley, and nearby, a shutteredScandinavian gym.

Salour is seeking the city’s OK to build 200 apartments and 65,000 square feet of retail space. “It’s a prime location surrounded by very attractive buildings,” including office buildings, Salour said.

Salour said the high-end apartments he plans to build will fill a need for people who now commute into Boca Raton to work because there aren’t enough rental projects in the city.

Several properties around the Town Center mall also are undergoing a renaissance.

Across from Salour’s property sits Boca Center, an office, shopping, dining and hotel complex also slated for a redevelopment.

Developer Tom Crocker last year reacquired this center, which he originally built. Now he plans a massive upgrade. A high-end gym, new restaurants and development along Military Trail (now home to a parking lot) all are in the works. The idea is to turn the Boca Center into a luxury food and entertainment mecca.

Boca Center’s proximity to the Town Center mall, in the heart of the city, makes it prime property for restaurants eager to do business in the city, said Tom Prakas, of Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton. Prakas is handling leasing for the center.

Crocker also plans to create a “restaurant row” along Butts Road, on property he owns next to his Wells Fargo office building, Prakas said.

In addition, Crocker is looking to add a restaurant to another of his Boca Raton office properties: One Town Center, a Class A, 10-story office building that once was home to Tyco’s headquarters. Plans are to create a 5,000-square-foot restaurant downstairs, with patio space outside along Town Center Road.

Boca Raton’s building boom is no surprise to longtime real estate professional Keith O’Donnell, a principal with Avison Young in Boca Raton.

The city’s ranking on Livability’s 100 Best Places to Live means a renewed interest in adding to the city’s offerings of homes, shops and offices. Boca Raton was ranked 59th, based on an analysis of each cities’ amenities, economy, education, health care and other factors.

O’Donnell said activity in the city is divided among the eastern section of the city, where the downtown is seeing the construction of mixed-use projects, apartments and condos; the central portion of the city, around the mall; and the northwest section in and around the Arvida Park of Commerce, traditionally home to headquarters and research companies. A number of mixed-use projects also are planned there, he said.

Some 20 years ago, the thought of residential housing in the city’s largely ghost-townlike downtown was unthinkable. Now, however, several projects are in the works or underway, including Palmetto Promenade’s apartments and shops along Palmetto Park Road.

“Downtown is seeing a vibrancy it hasn’t seen in the residential sector,” O’Donnell said, “which will drive more retail demand.”

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.

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Boca broker handles big South Beach deal for Lobster Bar Sea Grille

Restaurant Dining AreaLobster Bar Sea Grille in Fort Lauderdale, coming soon to Miami Beach Buckhead Life, the Atlanta-based owner of two Boca Raton restaurants, is bringing its sizzling Lobster Bar Sea Grille to Miami Beach.

Lobster Bar Sea Grille will take space formerly occupied by China Grill, and more recently, Siena Tavern, at the high-profile corner of  5th Street and Washington Avenue, officially 404 Washington Avenue.

It’s one of the biggest restaurant deals on Miami Beach in recent months and was handled by Tom Prakas, of Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton.

The move is a coup for this regional chain, which operates the well-regarded Chops Lobster Bar in downtown Boca Raton, plus the City Fish Market west of Boca Raton.

Buckhead Life also operates Lobster Bar Sea Grille on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s prime South Beach space,” Prakas said. “They’ve been looking in Miami for the right space.”

“Our founder Panos Karatassos looks for great visibility,” said Buckhead Life spokeswoman Jennifer Parker.

Prakas said the site is near some of the area’s highest grossing restaurants, including Joe’s Stone Crabs and Smith & Wollensky: “It’s definitely where the high-end dollars go to dine.”

Parker said plans are to do an entire renovation of the 10,000 square foot space, which should take about a year. The restaurant will be designed with the nautically-inspired theme in Fort Lauderdale, which features touches such as polished brass to make visitors feel as if they are on a yacht, she said.

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Velvet ropes, members only: Private club coming to Delray

Delray Beach Street facing restaurantWhat’s hotter than hanging out at sexy Buddha Sky Bar in Delray Beach? Being able to hang out in parts of the bar off limits to the general public. Owners Chris Licata and Bobby Yampolsky plan a private, members-only club on the second floor of the three-story building, at 217 East Atlantic Avenue.

Think swanky, Paris or Tokyo-style hotel lobby. The ultra-luxury lounge will allow members to keep their spirits in private lockers and enjoy private meetings or tête-à-têtes, the partners said.

To create the long-held vision, the pair paid $5.9 million to exercise a purchase option for the building from a prior partner, Larry Lipnick. The deal was brokered by Tom Prakas of the Prakas Group in Boca Raton.

Licata and Yampolsky still are working out details of the club, including its name. They’re also not sure how many members the club will have.

But they have a price range for membership: Between $2,500 to $10,000 to join.

“It will be very exclusive,” Licata said. “On the second floor, only members will have access.”

The first floor is Buddha Garden restaurant and the top floor is the panoramic Buddha Sky Bar. The second floor now is is used for offices and private events. Plans are to start building the second floor private club next summer, with an opening set for the fall, in time for the tourist season, Licata said.