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PHILADELPHIA-The Boca Raton, FL-based Falcone Group, which is in the process of converting the top 20 floors of the Two Liberty Place office tower into approximately 122 residential condo units, has cast a wide net to bring a new restaurant to the building. It has enlisted the Prakas Group Inc. to market 10,000 sf on the 37th floor of the building at 1601 Chestnut St. for sale or long-term lease to a restaurateur.

The space is located between 36 lower stories of class A office space and the 20 stories of residences above. Depending on the design and build-out, the space could seat about 275.

Prakas, which has offices in Boca Raton and Orlando, specializes in commercial, restaurant and hospitality properties. Tom Prakas, president and broker, tells GlobeSt.com, “the asking selling price is in the range of $650 per sf, or about $6.5 million, and the asking rent rate is in the area of $65 per sf. There could be concessions. We want a star, and the combination of chef and operator will seal the deal.

“We’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, but top-rung, like the Stephen Starr and Mark Vetri caliber,” Prakas says, referring to two of the city’s upscale restaurateurs. Prakas says he is in talks with these and other locals as well as others “all over the country. Philadelphia is a foodie city with great restaurants; it’s probably only behind New York and Las Vegas in that respect.

“I don’t want to say we’d rule out a chain, but it wouldn’t be an Outback or anything similar, and they wouldn’t want this either,” Prakas continues. Among those who have shown interest are people from Austin, TX; Florida, Las Vegas and the Atlanta-based Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, which has expanded its Chops Lobster Bar concept to Florida. Prakas declines to identify others.

The restaurant will have valet parking and be served by its own high-speed elevator from the ground-floor lobby. It will be open to the public, but is also seen as an amenity to the residences, which will get priority seating and room service.

Falcone acquired the building in joint venture with Miami-based Americas Capital Partners from San Francisco-based Shorenstein in the summer of 2005. According to public records, it paid $170 million at a time when the 58-story building suffered office vacancy of nearly 50%.

As with the Residences at Two Liberty Place, the view is seen as a primary drawing card for the restaurant, and location is not far behind. At 1650 Market St., it is one of two office towers built in 1989 that quickly became the top trophies of the Center City office market. One- and two-bedroom residences are being marketed at between $2 million and $4 million, although a one-bedroom unit is listed online at $815,000. Asking price for the penthouse is $15 million.

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