Yair Levy, founder of Time Century Holdings, is the developer behind the Time Century Jewelry Center, a planned epicenter for Miami’s jewelry and diamond trade that will occupy an entire square block when it opens in mid-2022.
Levy is investing $ 50 million in renovating a lackluster mall in downtown Miami to create its 225,000 square foot center, which will include both retail and wholesale jewelers and gem dealers. The size and scope of the project will enhance the look and feel of Miami commerce. And with Time Century’s many planned retail stores, it will likely make the neighborhood a more welcoming place to shoppers.
The developer has a history, dating back to the early 2000s, of revitalizing neglected buildings, primarily in New York City, where he led renovations to 620 Sixth Ave. and Sheffield 57 to 322 W. 57th St.
We caught up with Levy, who in a past life was a diamond cutter, to talk about the project.
JCK: What is the history of your company which develops this jewelry market? What motivated this huge project?
Yair Levy: When I first started looking for commercial real estate investment opportunities in Miami, one of my first stops was in the downtown jewelry and diamond district. I was shocked to find that some of the most expensive jewelry in the country was sold in dilapidated buildings.
I realized that there was a huge need for a luxury jewelry center with much higher standards to meet the needs of consumers who are increasingly looking to buy “an experience” rather than a simple one. object. It is important that the quality of the location and the building match what is sold inside, because experiential retailing is what differentiates brick and mortar from e-commerce.
By expanding Time Century, we are creating the premier destination for luxury jewelry retailers, wholesalers, consumers and watch enthusiasts in the nation’s second largest jewelry district.
What factors led you to believe that the Miami jewelry industry needed a building like this?
Over the past 10 years, Miami has grown into a world-class city. People from all over the world are flocking to the Magic City to buy upscale condos and luxury homes, and entire portions of the city have gone from ramshackle neighborhoods to hip neighborhoods.
A good example of this transformation is downtown Miami, where upscale condo development has drawn thousands of residents to a neighborhood that was once a ghost town after 5 p.m.
While all of this change was happening, the jewelry and diamond district of downtown Miami was not keeping pace. I saw a great opportunity to bring luxury to the neglected jewelry district, and our vision is paying off. We already have nearly 60% of the luxury jewelry retail and wholesale space pre-leased to jewelers around the world.
We recently secured a $ 23.6 million construction loan from the City National Bank of Florida to complete the first phase of the project, and we are scheduled to open in mid-2022.
Are you, or have you been, in the jewelry industry?
I have been involved in the jewelry industry directly and indirectly all of my life. As a young man in Israel, I became a diamond cutter to help my family pay the bills. It was just the start. When I moved to the United States in the early 1970s, I became a successful women’s fashion designer in New York City, selling my designs in top department stores across the country.
During these years I have worked closely with jewelers. In the early 1990s, when I entered the real estate business, I started buying commercial properties. Many of my tenants work in the jewelry industry in New York City.
What are the main things that Time Century Jewelry Center, once it’s done, will bring to the Miami jewelry scene?
The Time Century Jewelry Center will bring sophistication to the jewelry and diamond district of downtown Miami. Designed by famed architect Kobi Karp, Time Century will feature glass showcases, high ceilings, elegant escalators and elevators, and state-of-the-art amenities, becoming a showcase for a district undergoing rapid transformation.
There is nothing like it in Miami. As customers come from North Miami Avenue or First Street, they will enter the building and experience it in three dimensions. Time Century marks a new start for one of the country’s largest jewelry districts which continues to gain in importance. Our national and international tenants reflect the new level of sophistication Time Century brings to downtown Miami.
My experience in real estate has been focused on revitalizing neighborhoods by breathing new life into iconic buildings. Time Century Jewelry Center is the old Metro Mall, which closed several years ago and has become an eyesore. Once we complete our $ 50 million renovation, the building will be the gem of downtown Miami’s jewelry and diamond district.
Jewelry swaps tend to look and feel a bit dark and professional, while center renderings make the building feel light, airy, and modern. What was your company’s attitude towards the look and feel of the project?
Our vision was to exhibit block and concrete and, at the same time, create a crystal-clear facade to wrap around what we promote and sell, namely jewelry.
Kobi Karp has done a great job designing Time Century Jewelry Center as a jewelry box that represents the future of jewelry and diamond trading. We felt the building should reflect the same level of sophistication that jewelers offer, providing an unparalleled shopping experience for our future customers.
You are looking for a jewelry design school to reach your tenants. Why do you think it is important to include a school in the building?
It will be a win-win-win situation for the students, the school and our tenants, who often hire young jewelers to train and grow with their business. There is a strong demand for the next generation of diamond and jewelry designers, and our site is surrounded by colleges, as well as domestic and international students who can be trained to meet this demand.
We are also located in one of the largest jewelry and diamond districts in the United States, providing students with access to diamond and jewelry learning opportunities and other hands-on experiences. The city center provides an environment conducive to a jewelry design school to attract and develop talent.
How much of the centre’s rental will be retail jewelers that the public can buy?
We will have nearly 150 stores for the public to come to do their shopping. The jewelry center will include four floors of luxury jewelry retail and wholesale space as well as four additional floors of office space. A large three-story atrium with newly designed escalators and computerized directories will seamlessly direct guests at all levels. Most tenants will have unobstructed signage visible from the ground floor. We will have nearly an equal number of retail and wholesale jewelers.
Who are the most interesting or notable tenants entering the building?
Many interesting and high profile tenants have already signed leases with us.… At the moment we are unable to name any names, but we are happy to report that we have recently signed a lease with Markaled, based in Istanbul. The luxury jewelry store will occupy 1,500 square feet and plans to open in the second quarter of 2022.
Markaled has served luxury buyers across Europe for over a decade, and the location in Time Century will mark the company’s entry into the United States. We also have several tenants from Colombia and Saudi Arabia. A significant number of tenants are from New York, and we are in talks with jewelers from China and the UK
How do you see the project shaping or defining the Miami jewelry business?
Time Century is disrupting the status quo in Miami’s jewelry and diamond district. Until now, there was no competition to challenge other homeowners to reinvest in their properties to bring sophistication, class and style to their buildings. Time Century will revitalize this area and encourage jewelers to reconsider the look and feel of their space. They are already wondering why they have to pay higher rents elsewhere for dilapidated spaces when they could pay less to be in a state-of-the-art building.
Top: A render of the entrance to the Time Century Jewelry Center in Miami (all photos courtesy of Time Century Holdings)
To pursue Emili Vesilind on Instagram: @emilivesilind
Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine