Downtown merchants add night hours for yule
By Catherine Lackner
Hoping to capitalize on newly spruced up storefronts amid light poles decorated for the holidays, downtown Miami merchants will kick off their extended hours holiday retail campaign tonight (12/7).
Merchants among them Burdines, The Sports Authority, Marshall's and Foot Locker have agreed to stay open until 7:30 each week night until Dec. 24 and until 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, as part of an initiative launched by the Downtown Miami Partnership and Downtown Miami Main Street.
The extended hours are a tool to capture the attention of downtown workers who ordinarily would fight rush hour traffic to shop elsewhere.
As part of the downtown partnership's "Park & Shop" program, drivers may park in municipal garages 1, 2 and 3 for $3 after 3 p.m. and at meters free after 6 p.m.
To ease traffic gridlock and access to parking spaces, roadwork downtown has been halted as of Thanksgiving and won't be resumed until after New Year's Day and merchants are being encouraged to clean up the area around their stores. Many have replaced aluminum shutters with clear grilles to make storefronts more inviting.
"Let's make things more friendly and inviting for our customers and visitors during the holiday season," says T. Neil Fritz, program director for Downtown Miami Main Street.
Merchants are being asked to remove excess signs from windows, to arrange trash pickups after 8 p.m. and to refer shoppers to downtown restaurants and other businesses that are participating in the program.
The downtown shopping drive ties in to the Downtown Miami Partnership's "Fall Fantasy Series" of activities taking place downtown after dark.
Events include the opening of La Loggia at 68 W Flagler St. which Mr. Fritz calls "Flagler Street's first fine-dining establishment in many years" and a holiday performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E Flagler St.
The Gusman will also play host to the Florida Philharmonic's "Messiah" concert Dec. 19. The Miami Art Museum and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, both at 101 W Flagler St., will offer exhibitions open not only on weekdays but on Thursday nights and weekends.
Details: (305) 379-7070.