Updated: Sun, 11/04/2012 - 11:56

City Talk: New Levy Jewelers opens at Broughton and Bull

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Levy Jewelers has been a Savannah staple for 113 years. The last 75 of those have been at the corner of Drayton and Broughton streets.

Now Levy Jewelers has entered a new era with the closing of that store and the opening of a far grander one just a block away at the northeast corner of Broughton and Bull streets.

Longtime employee Stacy Sullivan showed me around the building last week as it was still being prepped for the opening.

The art moderne structure has seen many uses over the decades from a department store to restaurants. But casual passersby will see little trace of those former businesses.

Levy Jewelers’ owners Lowell and Hilary Kronowitz purchased the building almost a year ago. Since then, they and the rest of the Levy’s team have worked with Hansen Architects, J.T. Turner Construction and other Savannah-based businesses to transform the four floors.

“This has been our blood, sweat and soul,” Sullivan said as we watched workmen completing some of the finishing touches — including the old-school brass inlay of the business name in the terrazzo at the entrance.

The street-level showroom is both spacious and intimate.

Some of the structural columns have been used for merchandising, and the display cases allow plenty of room for browsing. There are lovely lighting fixtures, but I suspect most customers’ eyes will be focused on the jewelry.

The space is also flooded with natural light from the banks of windows facing both Bull and Broughton.

The retail display area is nearly 5,000 square feet, according to Sullivan. That’s more than twice as much as the old location. The space even has a lounge and a small playroom for kids.

The second floor was most recently a restaurant. Levy’s is keeping a commercial kitchen, so that level can eventually be used for events.

A bar occupied the third floor the last time I was up there. That level is now devoted to offices.

And there’s a rooftop deck. The elevated wooden platform and planned outdoor kitchen could one day be perfect for all sorts of events.

“We didn’t build it for the short term. We built it for the long haul,” Sullivan said as we discussed possible uses.

For now, the grand vistas from the rooftop will be enjoyed mainly by employees taking breaks or lunches.

Perhaps the biggest transformation has come in the basement, which has a variety of state-of-the-art areas for watch repair, engraving, shipping and other services that had cramped quarters at the old store.

“I’ve been holding my breath for so long,” said Lowell Kronowitz, the great-grandson of the business founder, when I caught up with him the next day.

“I’m just anxious to share all this with the community.”

 

The Savannah Film Festival and the prestige factor

Wednesday, the Savannah Film Festival got the day rolling with a full house at Trustees Theater for a morning screening of “The Amazing Spider-Man” followed by a question-and-answer session with the gracious Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame.

Wednesday’s crowded lineup of films ended with the Lucas Theatre screening of the restored version of Tod Browning’s 1931 “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi.

The surprise “director’s choice” screening that evening at Trustees was “Hyde Park on Hudson,” starring Bill Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Laura Linney as one of his romantic interests.

The film, which has generated Oscar buzz for its performances, is slated for a December release.

“Hyde Park on Hudson” has already been screened at three other festivals: The Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.

Consider that list for a moment. The Savannah festival routinely gets films with similar pedigrees.

And that’s stellar company for the SCAD-sponsored festival, especially considering that those three festivals have been around for a combined 124 years. The Savannah Film Festival has been around for just 15 years.

Given the festival’s relative youth, given that Savannah is not a major media market, and given the Savannah festival’s position late in the fall season, it’s unlikely our festival will shoulder other major ones out of the way.

But important producers and distributors have in recent years placed a great deal of value on the Savannah festival. That’s obvious from the great films that have made their way here.

What will this landscape look like in 20 or 30 years when the Savannah Film Festival is as old as some of the world’s major festivals are now?

 

City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday. Bill Dawers can be reached via billdawers@comcast.net and http://www.billdawers.com. Send mail to 10 East 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.

 

 

 

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