Right now, Cartier’s name sparkling against the backdrop of a bronze storefront may look a little out of place as the area undergoes a transition. But soon Louis Vuitton will make a dramatic statement across the street with a storefront covered by an original work of art from graffiti artist Marquis Lewis, known as RETNA.
There may be growing pains in this gentrifying neighborhood. Will consumers be willing to spend thousands of dollars on jewelry, handbags and clothes just a few blocks away from some of Miami’s more impoverished neighborhoods?
At Cartier a security guard stands close by watching over an offering that includes a rare yellow diamond and a $310,000, diamond-encrusted panther pendant and necklace.
“I like the idea of an urban neighborhood where you have crackheads here and Cartier over there,” said Denia Roth, a Miami resident who was lunching this week at Michael’s Genuine in the Design District. “The diversity brings everyone together.”
The retailers have more freedom to design the look of their stores and open bigger showrooms featuring a wider variety of offerings. Cartier’s new store is three times larger than what it had at Bal Harbour.
And these stores are only the beginning. Cartier and Louis Vuitton are among several brands opening temporary locations, until they can design and build flagship stores. When these stores open in 2014, they’re expected to be among the brands’ largest stores in the U.S. outside of Manhattan.
“We want to take our client experience to the next level and serve our clients in comfort,” Perrin said.
Louis Vuitton felt it was important to get into the Design District early.
“We like to be part of building a story, it’s part of our pioneering spirit,” Chapoulaud-Floquet said. “We think we’re going to be able to communicate with a very different clientele that is younger, more trendy and much more open to art and culture.”
Although it’s been a year since Louis Vuitton and others started leaving Bal Harbour, operating partner Matthew Whitman Lazenby says same store sales continue to grow — up 16 percent for the first six months of the year compared to last year.
But Lazenby says his family has had a change of heart about allowing tenants to remain at Bal Harbour and still open a second location in Miami-Dade County.
“You can’t deny there has been demand expressed by more than one tenant,” Lazenby said. “Miami has reached the point in its evolution where more than one store can be sustained. We are adapting to the marketplace and trying to accommodate the needs of our tenants.”