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National restaurants eye Delray Beach for space

The spot vacated by Smoke BBQ has caught the attention of national eateries. It’s not Dull-Ray anymore.

Instead, Delray Beach has reached a new level of business prominence, so much so that the once sleepy village-by-the sea has national restaurant companies taking a hard look at leasing space along downtown’s Atlantic Avenue.

In particular, they’re eyeing space vacated by Smoke BBQ at 8 E. Atlantic Ave. Three national restaurant companies now are vying for the spot, said Tom Prakas, the Boca Raton-based restaurant broker handling the property. The location has taken on added allure with the pending arrival of a Louie Bossi restaurant, which is taking over the 32 East restaurant space in that same block, at 32 E. Atlantic Ave.

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Sources said West Palm Beach-based Big Time Restaurant Group inked a deal last month to take the space and bring its celebrated Italian concept to the avenue. 32 East will remain open for several months as Big Time secures permits, at which time the space will undergo a renovation and reopen this time next year as the latest incarnation of the popular Italian gathering spot, which has locations in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

The Louie Bossi buzz is creating greater demand for the Smoke space, which features 3,400 interior square feet and a generous 3,000-square-foot patio, the largest outdoor space in Delray Beach, said Prakas, of  Prakas & Co.

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Prakas declined to name the companies, but he said two are new to the South Florida marketplace and all want a piece of the action on a street that doesn’t slow down during weeknights.

“If I reminisce about how the street has changed, 15 years ago, you could go there at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. at night and pitch a tent in the street and never get hit,” Prakas said.

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Since then, however, even weeknights are clogged with diners wandering the avenue in search of food and fun. The avenue’s growth has been so pronounced it is now spreading, including north along Second Avenue, dubbed Pineapple Grove, and down other streets.

Through the years, Prakas said he’s done probably 40 to 50 restaurant deals valued at more than $50 million worth of properties.

Among the restaurants he’s brought in are The Office, Vic & Angelo’s, Taverna Opa, Che, Sazio, Honey, Dada, RokBrgr, City Oyster, Starbucks, Lemongrass, Bull Bar, Gol! (now Cafe Martier), Max’s Harvest and Max’s Social House (now Death & Glory, a deal he also did).

“I love the fact that we made a big impact,” said Prakas, who now relies on his son Christian to help with the business. Prakas expects a deal on the Smoke space soon.

The interest from national restaurant companies follows the move by national clothing retail stores onto Atlantic Avenue’s streets. They include Urban Outfitters, Tommy Bahama and LF.

Prakas said national restaurant companies often move in line with other retailers, so it’s not surprising they are following the clothing stores’ lead.

Mayor Cary Glickstein said he’s aware of national retailer interest because he fields their calls all the time.

He said the interest reflects a nationwide shift by retailers to urban cores from suburban shopping malls. Retailers are moving to where the population is gathering. These days, it’s in lively urban downtowns.

As proof, he notes that a 2.75-acre lot on West Atlantic Avenue east of Interstate 95 will be transformed into a Publix Supermarket.The lot, on Atlantic and Southwest Sixth avenues in downtown Delray Beach’s Northwest/Southwest neighborhood, will be home to a 25,000-square-foot store.

It’s a change from the standard, larger Publix locations near suburban residential communities. But the move also reflects the city’s maturation as a destination for both residents and businesses, Glickstein said.

“All these companies are rethinking their footprints,” Glickstein said. “Publix doesn’t need more 50,000-square-foot boxes. They can be more strategic in urban areas, and a lot of national retailers and restaurants are rethinking smaller urban areas, like Delray Beach.”

Such a shift is not without risk to the local players who put Delray Beach on the map.

National retailers have the ability to pay high rents, which can crowd out local players that gave Delray Beach its original charm.

Glickstein said Delray Beach is trying to be careful to make sure new, sometimes national arrivals, such as the Capital One cafe coming to the former Green Owl space, are in line with the character of the city’s architecture.

Jeff Sussman, a Boca Raton restaurant broker who also has done deals on Atlantic Avenue, predicts that local players will always trump national companies when it comes to long-term success in the Palm Beach County market.

Local players, such as Big Time, which also owns Rocco’s Tacos and City Oyster in Delray Beach, know the local labor market well. “They’re connected to the fabric of the community,” Sussman said, “and everybody who goes to work for them knows they will be successful and make money.”

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

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How To Use A Boca Raton Real Estate Broker to Find Your Next Restaurant

If you have dreams of opening a restaurant, you will need to create a menu, design a dĂ©cor, and make your presence know to diners.  Or if you’re looking to purchase an existing restaurant that is already established and doing well.  For you to move from just thinking about it, to making your decision happen,  you will need to find the right space, and that can be a major challenge. Rather than letting the search hold back your ambitions, rely on a Boca Raton real estate broker. Here’s how Prakas & Co.  can help:

Target a Location

The location is key in the restaurant business. If you are not in the right neighborhood, you will struggle to attract diners who are unwilling to drive across town for a meal. Perhaps you want to open in an established restaurant district or stand apart in an under-served area. In either case, a Boca Raton real estate broker can find you more options that fit exactly what you’re looking for.

Meet Your Requirements
You don’t want to have to alter your vision to fit your restaurant building. Ideally, you would find a space that offers exactly what you’re looking for already. That means the right mix of parking, the right amount of square footage, and the right new or existing kitchen space. When you work with a Boca Raton real estate broker you list off your requirements at the start, then the agent goes looking for a space that matches the vision you have for your new restaurant.

A  Boca Raton Real Estate Broker  Can Help You Get a Great Deal
Real estate negotiations can be intense, even for properties that are not obviously in demand. If your skills are in the restaurant business, you may struggle to get a fair price and favorable terms from the seller. Letting a Boca Raton real estate broker act as your negotiator is a smarter way to handle negotiations whether you’re buying or selling a restaurant. The broker is also likely to close the sale in less time.
The longer you wait to find a restaurant space the longer you wait to start serving your customers. Get the wheels turning by having a conversation with a Boca Raton real estate broker with experience and expertise in restaurant properties. Call Prakas & Co. at (561) 368-0003 today!

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Ex-Hudson at Waterway East in Delray to become Argentine restaurant

The former Hudson at Waterway East has been leased to a restaurant company that operates Argentine steakhouses in Spain.

Che! Restaurant uses the casual Argentine moniker for “dude” or “pal” as its name.

But Che! Restaurant a seriously expanding company, with numerous locations in Spain. Now it has grand plans for the United States.

Indeed, the Delray Beach location will serve as the first of several planned Che! locations, said Sean Molloy, a Delray Beach real estate executive who helped Che! land the Hudson deal.

“Within five years, they hope to have at least five restaurants open,” Molloy said of the Che! restaurant group. (Fun fact: The word “che” is known in the U.S. mostly as the nickname of Argentine Marxist revolutionaryErnesto “Che” Guevara, a major figure in the 1959 Cuban revolution. But in South America, che is a common slang greeting.)Tom Prakas, of Boca Raton-Prakas Group, brokered the lease at the former Hudson restaurant, at 900 E. Atlantic.When a deal to bring Broward County-based Blue Moon Fish Co.fell through, Che! stepped in fast.Geography was key: Molloy and Prakas live on the same Delray Beach street. Some Che! family members also live in Delray Beach.So word traveled fast: “The deal was done within 10 days,” Molloy said. “Tom was instrumental in getting it done.”Molloy said Che! was willing to act quickly because it was already in the market for a South Florida location. In fact, the company had been poised to sign a deal in Miami, but swiveled to grab the empty Hudson’s space when it became available.Molloy said Che! officials still are working out details for the restaurant. But they plan to make it a place moderate enough in price that people can visit frequently.Plans are afoot to feature not only steak but also a raw bar, sushi and tapas.An October opening is being planned.

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NAR: Commercial sales subdued in first quarter

WASHINGTON – May 20, 2016 – After a booming 2015, the pace of commercial transactions in the first quarter of this year dropped and failed to keep up, according to the National Association of RealtorsÂź’ (NAR) Commercial Real Estate Outlook: 2016.

Large commercial real estate deals plunged 20 percent year-over-year, totaling $111 billion in the first quarter, according to Real Capital Analytics.

Sales volume may have dropped but prices continued to rise, particularly driven by strong appreciation in prices of retail and apartment properties. Retail properties saw an 11.8 percent price increase while apartment properties posted an 11.2 percent increase. Prices for office properties in central business districts rose 10.5 percent.

Apartment transactions made up the largest share of the first quarter volume, totaling $38.6 billion in sales. Office properties followed at $31.2 billion, and then retail and industrial sales at $17.9 billion and $12.6 billion, respectively.

Small commercial real estate transactions – such as grocery-anchored shopping centers, local warehouses, small offices, and supermarkets – rose 8.5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of this year. The average sale transaction price totaled $1.1 million during the quarter, according to NAR’s data.

“With inventory shortage continuing as a main concern, prices in SCRE [small commercial real estate transactions] markets rose a more moderate 5.1 percent year-over-year during the period,” according to NAR’s report. “Average capitalization rates declined to an average 7.2 percent across all property types, a 60 basis point compression on a yearly basis. Apartments posted the lowest cap rate, at 6.9 percent, followed by hotel properties with average cap rates at 7.1 percent. Office and retail spaces tied with cap rates of 7.3 percent. Industrial transactions reported the highest comparative cap rates – 7.4 percent.”

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Bank of America takes trophy tower in Boca Raton – Prakas & Company in charge of securing Restaurant Tenants

Bank of America is taking a huge chunk of space in a trophy Boca Raton office tower once home to two major corporate headquarters, W.R. Grace andTyco International.

One Town Center soon will be occupied by the banking giant, which is leasing 62,000 square feet on the seventh through ninth floors of the 10-story building. Bank of America is expected to consolidate several offices in the space, including offices for its affiliate, Merrill Lynch.

The deal is a big coup for One Town Center’s co-owner, Tom Crocker, who built the 190,000-square-foot tower at 1 Town Center Road.

“It’s a signature property,” said Peter Reed, managing principal of Commercial Florida Realty Services.

In addition, the deal reflects the continued consolidation by BofA, which late last year inked a deal to lease 29,000 square feet in Esperante Corporate Center, in West Palm Beach. BofA and Merrill Lynch will move there from other offices in the city. Crocker also is a part owner in West Palm Beach’s Esperante.

Bank of America is expected to move into One Town Center later this year. Renovations are underway now.

Crocker’s deal with Bank of America is a feather in the cap of this Boca Raton-based developer, who once was a prolific builder in this ritzy city. Not only did he build the mixed-use Mizner Park shopping center downtown, Crocker also built several large commercial complexes in the city’s central district, near the upscaleTown Center mall.

They include One Town Center (formerly Crocker Tower), which sits next door to the mall; Boca Center (formerly Crocker Center), a mixed-use office, retail and hotel site along Military Trail nearby; and The Plaza office center (formerlyCrocker Plaza), also near the mall.

Crocker sold them years ago, but then bought them all back late in late 2014 in a joint venture between his Boca Raton-based Crocker Partners and Glastonbury, Conn.-based Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers. Crocker also purchased the One Boca Place office building on Glades Road.

Crocker Tower’s first tenant back in 1990 was W.R. Grace, a specialty chemical maker from New York. When the company downsized after an accounting scandal and other problems, Tyco took over the tower. Then the conglomerate encountered problems, including its own accounting scandal, and the company left the building in 2012.

The property remained empty while then-owner Met Life tried to find a single user. In 2013, however, that idea was abandoned and brokers were told topeddle the space as a multi-use office tower. A renovation resulted in the spiffing up of the building’s lobby, among other improvements.

The building landed its first tenant, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, and then the Kaufman Rossin accounting firm leased office space.

But the property received a big boost when last year Crocker bought back this tower, along with the other office properties.

Now, with BofA moving in, “We’e got a rent roll that rivals anybody,” saidMichael Erickson, a senior vice president for CBRE, which handles the tower’s leasing.

The tower now is 80 percent leased, up from 30 percent in 2014, with only about 30,000 square feet remaining.

Along with the higher vacancies come higher rents: One Town Center now fetches $35 per square foot, not including about $14 per square foot for taxes and maintenance, Erickson said.

But the higher price takes into account the upgrades and renovations Crocker plans for his properties. Restaurant broker Tom Prakas of Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton is charged with securing eateries for the office buildings. For One Town Center, Prakas said he has a 5,000-square-foot restaurant space available, plus patio space.

At the Plaza, One Boca Center and Boca Center, Crocker is seeking the city’s OK for separate restaurants to be built out in front of the buildings. Prakas said he has waiting lists of restaurants that want space in what he called the “epicenter of Boca.”

Upgrading existing office buildings makes sense, brokers say. Developers aren’t interested in building new office buildings because they are hard to finance, said Neil Merin, chairman of NAI/Merin Hunter Codman in West Beach.

Instead, vacant land once slated for offices is being transformed into apartments and shops, said Keith O’Donnell, a principal with Avison Youngin Boca Raton. This is particularly the case in the Park at Broken Sound(formerly the Arvida Park of Commerce), once home exclusively to industrial research properties.

That means existing office buildings are popular with buyers who think they can make money by freshening these older properties with big renovations.

Crocker’s reinvestment is a prime example. “Crocker has always been a pioneer,” O’Donnell said. “Now instead of building, he’s renovating. I appreciate the fact that Tom has a vision to come back again into this market.”

Crocker is making his play on a big scale, but others are doing it on a smaller scale.

One developer is Malcolm Butters of Butters Construction of Pompano Beach. This month, Butters paid $6 million for a property at 851 Broken Sound Blvd., the Rexall Sundown property. Butters said he plans to spend another $3 million renovating the 60,000-square-foot building and then lease it out. He said the property is suitable not only for corporate users but also for smaller, professional tenants such as law firms or financial firms.

“With no new office construction taking place, (offices) are getting filled up,” Butters said. “This building has nice frontage on Congress Avenue, it’s near Tri-Rail and close to I-95. I think it’s going to do well.” The renovation should be complete by year-end.

Crocker’s higher rents have pushed rents up throughout the area, said John Criddle, a Cushman & Wakefield director in Fort Lauderdale. This comes at a time when available office space is shrinking, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s 2016 first quarter report.

Criddle is tasked with leasing 5401 Broken Sound, formerly occupied by Applied Card. The 66,000-square-foot building has views of a golf course, theOld Course at Broken Sound.

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Soup, Salad and Sandwich Joint Coming to Gardens!

A prime restaurant spot in Legacy Place won’t be vacant for much longer.

A sign in the window of a corner location in the shopping destination on PGA Boulevard announces Newk’s Eatery is coming soon. The 4,600-square-foot restaurant has a large wrap-around patio with a few of the fountain.

The regional restaurant chain with Mississippi roots serves soups, salads, pizzas, sandwiches and mac and cheese. It also has grab-n-go and catering menus.

Steve Mossini, the broker for the space, said there is no set opening date, but construction should start June 1. The interior will be redone to fit the Newk’s design. There are no other Palm Beach County locations, but they are looking, he said.

The exact number of seats hasn’t been finalized, but the previous tenant had 200 inside and 100 outside, Mossini said.

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Hudson at Waterway East Has Closed and Is Up for Sale

Hudon at Waterway East RestaurantHere’s more change headed for downtown Delray Beach’s dining scene: Intracoastal waterfront restaurant Hudson at Waterway East has permanently closed its doors, and the space is available for a new operator to take its place.

In a space formerly occupied by the historic Old Calypso restaurant, a longtime Delray Beach seafood establishment that closed in 2013, industry veterans and business partners Joe McCullough and Rita Wilson teamed up for Hudson,which opened in December 2014.

Today, the 7,000-square-foot building located at 900 E. Atlantic Ave. is listed for sale or lease with Boca Raton-based restaurant brokerage firm Prakas & Co., Hudson’s exclusive real estate broker.

According to Prakas & Co. founder and broker Athan “Tom” Prakas, although the company is negotiating a deal with an undisclosed party, it is willing to “entertain offers” from other interested parties. The property is listed for sale at $7.9 million or leasable at $450,000 per year.

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Restaurant real estate soaring in Palm Beach County

Retail and Restaurant Buildings in Palm Beach CountyThe real estate market for restaurants in Palm Beach County is strong, with heightened demand and rising prices attracting a range of eateries, experts say.

“Demographics — heavy high-end to middle class — are conducive to restaurant owners,” Tom Prakas, owner of restaurant brokerage Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton told The Real Deal. “The population is rising, the economy is bustling and tourism is on the rise.”

The increase in housing prices also is leading consumers to eat out more, said Russ Bornstein, senior vice president at CBRE in Boca Raton. “People are feeling good about themselves,” he said.

The growth is particularly strong in Boca Raton, Bornstein told TRD. For example Houston’s, which already has one restaurant in the city, is planning another at Palmetto Park Road and the Intracoastal Waterway. Houston’s has seven locations in Florida, and this would be the third in Palm Beach County, Bornstein said.

On the low end of the restaurant scale, Chipotle is planning a fifth Boca Raton location in the Park Place shopping center scheduled to open next year on Military Trail, south of Clint Moore Road and Office Depot’s corporate headquarters (5540-5590 North Military Trail).

Rendering of Park Place

The center will also include Habit Burger; Burton’s Grill; Raw Juice, a Boca Raton-based fresh juice and vegan food restaurant; Phenomenon, a nitrogen-based ice cream parlor; and Rappy’s Deli, a new concept from famed South Florida restaurateur Burt Rapoport, who also owns Apeiro Kitchen & Bar in Delray Beach and Midtown Miami.

“What restaurants like about Boca is that there is 11 million square feet of office space around Glades Road and I-95,” Bornstein said. He said many restauranteurs seek “second generation” space — properties previously occupied by restaurants. “If you can go to a space that was formerly a restaurant, it’s a huge cost savings,” he said.

Prakas said he is working on projects for eight new restaurants in Boca Raton, half of which are national brands and half regional concepts.

And it’s not just Boca Raton. Prakas brokered the sale of the building that houses Buddha Sky Bar at 217 East Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach for a whopping $7 million. The seller was Larry Lipnick, and the buyer group was led by Bobby Yampolski.

In West Palm Beach, Prakas sold a restaurant condominium in Via Jardin at 330 Clematis Street in the heart of downtown. He doesn’t know who the tenant will be. Prakas also leased restaurant space in the 17-story, Class A Esperante office building at 222 Lakeview Avenue in downtown West Palm. A ground-floor restaurant will occupy 5,000 square feet and a rooftop lounge, 4,000 square feet. Prakas couldn’t name the tenants.

And Palm Beach’s popular Buccan restaurant is opening a casual Italian eatery, Grato, at 1901 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, early next month.

Analysts say the party won’t end soon. “Palm Beach County real estate, as it pertains to restaurants, is going to remain very strong for the next 18-24 months,” Bornstein told TRD. “Vacancies are going to remain low, as any new space coming on line will be gobbled up quickly.”

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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