After 72 years of selling diamonds, watches and rings from its historic jewelry district location, Kirk Jewelers is saying goodbye to Flagler Street and moving to Brickell.
The luxury jewelry retailer is closing its location at 142 E. Flagler St. due to a decline in foot traffic over the past 10 years. It will reopen at Brickell City Centre at 701 S. Miami Ave. by late December.
The store will occupy a smaller space, and pay ‘significantly more’ in rent, according to co-president of Kirk Jewelers Allison Newbauer Strongin.
But, Newbauer Strongin said, she expects to see more customers than on Flagler Street.
“There’s a lot of energy right now happening across the river,” she said.
The store currently spans 4,000 square feet, with a showroom of 1,500 square feet. Kirk Jewelers’ new home will cover a total of 3,000 square feet, with a 2,000-square-foot showroom.
Newbauer Strongin did not disclose rent information. But, according to the Miami-Dade County Retail Third Quarter 2019 Colliers International Report, the average direct asking rate for Downtown Miami is $46.01 per square foot and $63.44 per square foot in Brickell.
“You need to ink out the showroom to make up for the rents,” she said.
The move will draw Kirk Jewelers closer to the store’s customer base, with the majority already coming from Brickell. It will also allow the team to sell to more tourists, Newbauer Strongin said, a customer base that she’s seen decline on Flagler Street.
“Brickell City Centre has seen an increase with South Americans and Europeans,” she said. “Brickell City Centre will allow us to tap into both the locals and tourists, especially the Brazilian market.”
The hours at the mall also encouraged the move. The store on Flagler is currently open six days a week during regular business hours. It closes by 5:30 p.m., because Newbauer Strongin said “it doesn’t make sense to be open more than that on Flagler.”
But at Brickell City Centre, Kirk Jewelers will run daily from morning until 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., depending on the day.
“We calculated that with longer store hours we’d be open to an equivalent of three to four months more,” Newbauer Strongin said.
Kirk Jewelers was established in 1947 by Newbauer Strongin’s grandfather Julian Sr., a wholesale businessman from New York City. Four generations later, Newbauer Strongin runs the business alongside her brother Jeff Newbauer.
The Downtown Development Authority is prioritizing filling vacancies, especially in the historic jewelry district, with services catering to a growing residential population, said the Downtown Development Authority Deputy Director Christina Crespi.
Greater Downtown — which includes Brickell, the Central Business District, and Arts & Entertainment — has 92,000 residents today, Crespi said. By 2021, the DDA expects 110,000 residents to live in the area.
“Our priority is quality of life, that’s part of an evolving economy,” Crespi said. “For Flagler, our recruitment focus has been tech companies, cafes, bars and restaurants.”
The streetscape improvement plans starting in Flagler in 2020 are part of the quality-of-life enhancements. The plans, in the works since 2011, will include widened sidewalks, extra lighting and greenery.
“The city has over the last few years had a renewed interest in our historic districts,” Carlos R. Lago, a member of the Land Development practice in Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office. “In general, there’s a bit of growing pains with street improvements but everyone is happy at the end.”
The addition of pedestrian-friendly streets is likely to attract more foot traffic and more retail businesses back to Flagler in the future.