How the Pandemic Led Real Estate Developer Yair Levy to Focus on Downtown Miami's Diamond and Jewelry District
Yair Levy had been a real estate developer and investor in Manhattan for more than 20 years when he began to turn his attention to downtown Miami a few years ago. It wasn’t until the pandemic heavily hit the New York real estate market last year that he decided to diversify his real estate portfolio to mitigate risks.
As a result, he moved to Miami to focus 100 percent on building a luxury diamond and jewelry center in downtown Miami. For decades, the Miami diamond and jewelry district has been thriving. Yet, many property owners had neglected their buildings, contributing to the district’s deterioration. Levy saw the opportunity to bring a glamorous diamond and jewelry center to downtown Miami to capitalize on the area’s pent-up demand for luxury jewelry retail and wholesale space.
That’s how Levy’s Time Century Jewelry Center in the heart of downtown Miami was conceived. Currently under construction, the center will be completed in mid-2022 to become the heart and soul of one of the US’ largest diamond and jewelry districts.
Since the onset of the pandemic, leasing activity at Time Century has accelerated, according to Levy. From jewelers to diamond cutters, prospective tenants are coming from New York, Europe, China and Latin America.
“The jewelry industry continues to grow in the US and around the world, and that trend is benefiting us tremendously,” said Levy, who has leased out over 50 percent of the jewelry retail and wholesale space in recent months. “We secured tenants like Miami’s iconic Freddy’s Certified Diamonds & Fine Jewelry, as well as Istanbul-based Markaled, which has served luxury shoppers across Europe for decades. Miami is increasingly becoming a desired destination not only for financial institutions and tech start-ups but also for jewelers and diamond cutters targeting the region’s growing demographics and discretionary income.”
Miami’s jewelry market expansion is a sign of the times. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global jewelry market size is expected to reach USD 266.53 billion while exhibiting a CAGR of 3.7% between 2020 and 2027. This is attributable to the increasing use of digital media to propel the demand for luxury jewelry.
“There is a rising trend in the consumption of jewelry as more people are inclined towards luxurious products,” according to Fortune Business Insights. “The growing popularity of the use [of jewelry] among high-income earners as a symbol of high status is helping to accelerate the consumption rate.”
The expansion of the jewelry industry during the pandemic hasn’t gone unnoticed by lenders. Early this year, Levy secured a $23.6 million loan to help fund the $50 million renovation of the former Metro Mall building. Time Century is positioned to become the crown jewel of Downtown Miami’s diamond and jewelry district when it opens in a year. With glass storefronts, soaring ceilings, elegant escalators and elevators, and state-of-the-art security, Time Century will be the first luxury high street retail property in the district.
The diamond and jewelry center will boast four floors of luxury jewelry retail and wholesale space as well as four additional floors of offices. A large three-story atrium with newly designed escalators and computerized directories will seamlessly direct customers throughout all levels. Most tenants will have unobstructed signage viewable from the main floor. Customers will also benefit from Time Century’s valet parking service, and the several newly-built public parking garages steps away from the building.
Located along NE First Street and E Flagler Street, Miami’s vibrant jewelry and diamond district is home to more than 400 jewelry stores in a four-block radius. The district generates close to $1 billion in sales annually. The district is minutes away from PortMiami, known globally as the "Cruise Capital of the World." Millions of tourists visit Downtown Miami each year, and many more are expected to arrive soon as the Brightline commuter train is scheduled to open a station in Orlando, connecting Miami tourists to Orlando’s theme parks.
In addition to tourists, Downtown Miami has seen a drastic increase in full-time residents. In the last decade, people have moved into the amenity-filled high-rises built in the area. As a result, its population is expected to reach 109,617 by now. That would represent a 67 percent increase since 2010. The City of Miami has been ranked as the fourth “Most Walkable City” in the U.S. because of its downtown. A major contributor to this growth is its diamond and jewelry district.