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Stath Karras

Veteran real estate professional steers Burnham through transition

After more than a century in San Diego, Burnham Real Estate Services has been bought by Cushman & Wakefield. The 116-year-old firm, the largest independent commercial brokerage firm locally, will remain largely intact.

New York-based C&W, founded in 1917, was expected to complete its acquisition at the beginning of January. Burnham would then operate under the Cushman & Wakefield banner.

C&W provides a full complement of real estate services that includes buying, selling, financing, leasing, property and asset management, and valuation.

Stath Karras, who served as Burnham Real Estate Services president and CEO, is now C&W's executive managing director for the San Diego office. Over the years, Burnham brokers under Karras and his predecessors have handled tens of billions of dollars in sales and leasing transactions both here and in other parts of the western United States.

Despite an estimated 3.5 million square feet of office space planned in San Diego County, Karras doesn't seem worried. He recently said he is satisfied that a great deal of intellectual capital will fill commercial spaces, and new tenants will range from producers of clean technologies to sporting goods firms.

"When we look at the demand side, we look at where employment is occurring. We are still seeing pretty good growth in the life science, software, communications and military-related industries," Karras added.

On the sales side, recent transactions handled all or in part by Burnham include the $25 million sale of the Parkway Commerce Center, a 147,907-square-foot industrial and R&D multitenant project at 13651-13771 Danielson St. in Poway. The buyer was Invesco Real Estate of San Diego.

Burnham also announced that since it started handling sales at North Coast Business Park in late 2006, 45,000 square feet of office space has been sold for a combined total of $17.5 million.

Located east of Interstate 5 on Encinitas Boulevard in Encinitas, North Coast Business Park has 180,000 square feet consisting of nine separate buildings. The project has office space for sale or lease with unit sizes from 873 square feet up to full buildings of approximately 10,000 square feet. The project has diverse uses within the park ranging from health care practitioners to financial services professionals.

The company also handled the leasing of five industrial suites at the South Bay Industrial Center in Chula Vista for more than $1.87 million in November to produce firms Seagate Produce, Southwest Wholesale Distributors, Diamond Jack Enterprises, Donev Co. and FreshPoint of Southern California.

Karras has more than 25 years of experience in the real estate industry, the last 16 of which have been with Burnham. Prior to his current position, Karras served as Burnham's chief operating officer and before that he oversaw the firm's real estate and asset management operations with responsibility for a portfolio totaling more than 12 million square feet of commercial space.

Before joining Burnham, Karras was affiliated with Wallace Associates Management Inc. in Salt Lake City for 10 years, where he was senior vice president and director.

Karras currently serves as a member of USD's Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate Policy Advisory Board, executive committee member and director for San Diego Regional EDC, executive committee member and director of CONNECT, director for CommNexus and founding Member of LEAD San Diego's Leadership Trust. He has also served on the board of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, LEAD San Diego, San Diego Performing Arts League, Better Business Bureau and the San Diego Commercial Real Estate Association.

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