Valentino, Fendi, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Harry Winston, Givenchy, Giorgio Armani and Van Cleef & Arpels.
All those ultra-luxury fashion and jewelry brands — and many more — will soon open their gilded doors in Miami’s redeveloped Design District, joining other high-end designers like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Berluti, Emilio Pucci, Prada, Celine and Cartier, which have already set up shops.
Construction is underway, as the transformation of the once-gritty Miami neighborhood into a glamourous international luxury shopping destination takes shape. Already, some buildings have come down; security has been stepped up, greenery enhanced.
It’s a massive undertaking inside Miami’s urban core: In a little more than two years, nearly 120 top retailers will fill the compact district.
By next fall, 50 new stores will debut, along with seven new restaurants, adding to the 15 shops already in operation. Then, about 50 more will open in 2015, when the final touches are put on the revitalized shopping-and-dining destination crafted by local developer Craig Robins and his partner, L Real Estate, whose investors include the world’s top luxury products company, LVMH.
“Our real focus right now is to solidify the luxury retail offerings, so that in addition to great design, art and restaurants, you’ll have the most comprehensive collection of luxury fashion and jewelry in South Florida,” said Robins, president and chief executive of Dacra.
Long home to an assortment of furniture and home furnishing showrooms, Miami’s Design District is being made over, with a four-block pedestrian promenade anchored by two department stores, with rooftop gardens and mature shade trees lining the streets. A boutique hotel, condominium tower and five parking garages are also planned for the area, which will be dotted with cafes and tree-shaded plazas.
Dacra has already signed leases with many of the top names in fashion, including brands being announced here for the first time. Among them: Christian Louboutin Men’s, Loewe, Miu Miu, Rick Owens, Tod’s and Vacheron. In addition to a total of 42 disclosed retailers, another 15 have signed leases but have not yet authorized their names to be made public, he said.
Those, plus brands already named, like Bulgari, Burberry, Christian Dior, Fendi, Tom Ford and Zegna, all promise to create critical mass to draw customers to the district. They will join the first round of stores now open which includes Agnona, Celine, Maison Martin Margiela, Marni and Prada. Many have started with temporary stores, with plans to move into larger space once their buildings are completed.
Retail analyst Marshal Cohen predicts the district will do “extremely well.”
“Shopping in South Florida is a sport, it’s not just a necessity. And because of that, and because of the continuance of upper income consumers, Miami is poised to do well at the upper end,” said Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, a consumer and retail market research firm based in Port Washington, N.Y. “This is a really great combination.”
Though Robins first began buying buildings in the neighborhood nearly two decades ago, the ramped up redevelopment of the Design District is now the result of a fortuitous 50-50 partnership that combines Robins’ vision with the retail heft of LVMH’s global fashion brands. It’s a deal whose property is valued at $1 billion, arranged by Michael Burke, the chairman and chief executive of Louis Vuitton Worldwide, and blessed by Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group. The latter two executives, based in Paris, are not strangers to South Florida, having delved into real estate development here in the 1980s.