Commercial real estate developer Brock Development Corporation has been in business for nearly five decades—first as a real estate company and later expanding to commercial development—and through several generations. Today, there are seven Brocks working as a team in every aspect of the company, with 15 total family members, including spouses and grandchildren. They are together for work, holidays, celebrations, and weekend fun.
“We all get along well,” says Peter Brock, 73, who leads the company with his brother, Andrew Brock, 69. “We have our moments, but we are cohesive. We have a great bond of trust, love, and respect for each person.” Agrees Andrew: “We are all different and do argue, but we settle our issues by working through disagreements, preserving our relationships with honesty, integrity, and the desire to keep the family together.”
From leasing and brokerage services to full-service asset management, retail and hospitality development, design, and management, there is something for every Brock family member to master. And Peter and Andrew, whose late father, Herbert, founded the original real estate business in 1973, say they have never forgotten his wise and witty words: “I don’t go to work every day; I go to play with the kids.”
Current Brock family members working in the business include Peter and his three children—Jarrett, 35 (finance); Derek, 33 (hospitality and retail); and Colby, 44 (hotel management and design. And on Andrew’s side, he has two sons at the company—David, 30 (management) and Alex, 32 (management and architectural planning).
Based in Donald Ross Village in Palm Beach Gardens, Brock Development Corporation (which officially became what it is today in 1990) has a portfolio of real estate assets comprising more than 2 million square feet of commercial space nationwide and select land holdings with potential for future growth. In South Florida, Brock handles all aspects of leasing and management for more than 200,000 square feet of retail and office space, including hotels, shopping centers, banks, and more.
Their projects in Florida are some of the most well-known and often-frequented shopping and lifestyle plazas. Locally, there are a slew that will likely sound familiar: Abacoa Plaza in Jupiter (on the corner of Donald Ross and Military), Bayside Lakes Shopping Center in Palm Bay, The Shops of Donald Ross Village in Palm Beach Gardens, Forum Square in West Palm Beach, Gardens Towne Square in Palm Beach Gardens, and, most recently, Alton Town Center in Palm Beach Gardens.
They are also behind two hotels in Palm Beach Gardens: Homewood Suites by Hilton, a newly renovated destination offering 94 residential-style suite accommodations at Donald Ross Village, and the brand new Residence Inn by Marriott, a 122-suite contemporary hotel that just opened last summer.
The family’s American success story began with Jack (otherwise known as Jacob, but the family calls him Jack), Peter and Andrew’s enterprising grandfather, who changed the spelling of his name from the Polish “Brok” to “Brock” upon arriving in Ellis Island. Jack sold zippers and shoelaces in Manhattan to make a living before founding the popular doll company American Character with his brother, Max. Jack’s son Herbert (Peter and Andrew’s dad) worked with him at the doll company throughout the 1950s and 1960s, until 1966 when they sold the business to Ideal Toy Company. And that’s about when the Brock family became synonymous with real estate and development.
“Dad took the money [from the doll company sale] and went into real estate,” Peter says. “He started out buying apartments in Virginia. In 1972, after I got my MBA from Columbia University, I joined him in the New York area and helped with financing deals.”
Herbert was eager to move to Florida, but Peter wanted to stay in New York. He had begun working on his own projects, which included area real estate, restaurants, hotels, and sexy nightclubs (he was a regular at Manhattan’s Studio 54). “I was still a kid making lots of money,” he says of those heady days. “I worked hard and had fun.” He married, but later divorced, and is now happily married to Janice, whom he calls a “great mother” and his “best friend.”
In the meantime, Andrew graduated from Hofstra University in 1973 with a degree in business and finance. He decided to join his father in relocating to Palm Beach County. “I came to Florida right away,” Andrew says. “Dad and I developed the Ocean Mall on Singer Island.” Even though the family was living and making deals in different states, they were working together even from afar. When Herbert and Andrew wanted to build townhouses on the Forum Square property in West Palm Beach, for example, they needed credibility for financing and turned to Peter. “They found an investor, and I helped with the funds,” Peter says.
While Peter was living the high life in New York—he was even featured on the glitzy reality show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in 1990—the real estate market crashed, and he lost a lot of what he had worked so hard to make successful. “The shit hit the fan,” Peter recalls. “I had two banks to deal with, and everything fell apart for me. I had to save my name, and I was advised to move to Florida.”
And so he joined his father and brother in the Florida business. He gave up his glamorous New York life and moved his family to Palm Beach Gardens, borrowing money from his dad to buy a house. “I had two kids at that time and needed to downsize from a $7 million home in New York to a $400,000 place in PGA National,” he says. “The whole ordeal was a total change for me.”
Despite the frustrations, Peter says he never felt defeated. He managed to find the money to hold on to his Radisson properties in New Rochelle, New York. Soon he was in the swing of things in Florida; in 1992, he helped the family business with financing for an anchor tenant (a Kroger grocer) at the Crosstown Plaza in West Palm Beach.
Today, after 30 years in the family business, Peter and Andrew— who took on a partner, John Preston, in 1993 when Herbert got sick and had to bow out of the company—remain dedicated to running a smooth operation. Together with their children, the brothers keep on top of the local market, as their father had always advised, and are dealing with the pandemic in ways they never could have imagined.
“We changed the way we do business because of coronavirus,” says Andrew, who lives with his wife, Cindy, on the Intracoastal in an unincorporated section of Palm Beach County. “We work hard with local and national tenants, even extending ourselves [personally] to help them stay in business. We work with lenders so we can continue to operate.”
Amidst the pandemic, the Brocks managed to open a new hotel in July—the Residence Inn by Marriott, located just off PGA Boulevard near The Gardens Mall. It’s their most recent project, and they are thrilled with the results. The boutique-style hotel offers spacious studios, one- and two-bedroom suites with high-end finishes, functional design, and sustainable features such as keyless entry and LED lighting, as well as amenities including an outdoor deck with swimming pool, indoor/outdoor meeting space, a modern fitness center, and more. They designed the hotel with both the business and vacation traveler in mind; guests can stay for one day or for 365 days if they’d like.
Colby, Peter’s daughter, handled the design elements of the hotel, which draw inspiration from different styles. “We were influenced by the Art Deco era of New York style and architecture, while incorporating comfortable, warm aesthetics,” says Colby. To that end, mid-century modern mixes with Art Deco, along with bright white, gold, and blue accents reflective of South Florida’s oceanside landscape. The hotel also showcases curated public artwork by local artist Mark Fuller.
The Brocks stay on top of every single one of their properties, making sure each is up to snuff. “We have hands-on management and are happy that all of our projects are completed, occupied, and successful,” says Andrew. “We follow our father’s wisdom:
Be good to your properties, and they will be good to you.”
With so many projects, it’s hard to imagine the Brocks have any leisure time of their own. But they find the time because they know how important it is to lead a balanced life—and also to give back to the community. Peter was the recent national board chairman of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and is active in various other charities including Scripps Research, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and the local police. For leisure, he’s passionate about snow skiing and enjoys playing golf and traveling. “I love to take my wife to the Amalfi Coast, where we boat, hike, and relax,” he says. “We were in Vail last March when I actually got the coronavirus. I look forward to when we can travel to Italy again.”
Andrew is active in First Tee, an organization that teaches young kids of all backgrounds how to play golf. He also contributes to area Jewish temples and other organizations. He is an avid golfer and loves to cruise to Europe, visit Alaska, and ski in Colorado and Utah. Recently, he and his wife visited North Carolina. “We spent time in Elk River and really enjoyed it, especially the 50-degree weather in the summer,” he says.
The brothers agree they are lucky to have had mentors like their father and grandfather and can pass down that wisdom and work ethic to their own children. As Peter so aptly puts it: “We had great parents, education, and unfair advantages because of the
quality of our ancestors. We’re very grateful for that, and we like to give back.”
Learn more about the company and their projects at brockdevelopmentcorp.com