Jewelry store is leaving its longtime home in downtown Fort Worth

Joe Daiches opened his credit jewelry store at Weatherford and Houston streets in downtown Fort Worth just before the Great Depression in 1929.

In less than two weeks, the business, still family-owned and -operated, will move from its longtime location across from the Tarrant County Courthouse to a neighborhood shopping center south of Interstate 30 on Alta Mere Drive, on the far west side.

A real estate partnership is already in place to buy the 100-year-old building, renovate it and lease it to new tenants.

A lack of customer parking is driving the store's move, said Glenn Stuart, who now runs the business with his wife, Julie. The couple took over in November from Alvin Daiches, a son of the founder.

Julie Stuart is Alvin Daiches' daughter. Alvin and Larry Daiches, Joe's sons, took over the business in the 1970s and bought the building. Larry Daiches retired about four years ago.

"It's pretty hard," Stuart said of moving. "It was a long and arduous decision. But the family talked about it. Customer parking has become a challenge for us."

The downtown store will close April 3, and open in the new location April 7.

The new store will be about 4,000 square feet, double the size of the downtown site, and will have a coffee bar, Stuart said. The store has seven employees.

The move is bittersweet for the Daiches brothers.

"Let me put it this way," Larry Daiches said. "If you think about it heartwise, it's disappointing. But if you think about it mindwise, it's a very good move for them."

The Daicheses have a contract from local real estate investor Darwin German and commercial real estate broker David Tuttle, who have big plans for the building.

"Whenever I drove by the Daiches building, I thought, 'What a shame the building was being underutilized,'" German said. "At this point, it's not just about the numbers working but also being able to make sure a little piece of Fort Worth's history can be saved."

The three-story, 9,000-square-foot building was built in 1910 by George Gause, a funeral home operator. A meat market and liquor store reportedly occupied the first floor before Joe Daiches Credit Jewelry moved in. The upper two floors, with 28 rooms, were a hotel into the '70s but have since been unoccupied.

Soon after the brothers bought the building, Larry Daiches said there was a fire on the third floor. As the story goes, police had arrested and jailed the boyfriend of a woman nicknamed Crazy Mary. The hotel manager moved the man's belongings to a third-floor room. Mad at what the manager had done, Mary allegedly set the items on fire.

The damage was contained to that room, but the Daicheses moved the hotel out and never leased the space again, Larry Daiches said.

Tuttle said he expects to close on the purchase in 60 days. The partnership has already started pre-leasing. The upper floors will become offices marketed to attorneys and others who might need space close to the courts, Tuttle said.

The partnership plans to fully renovate the top two floors -- they still have original doors, hardware, transom windows, chair and crown moldings, tin ceiling tiles, wooden floors and handrails -- and will remove the street-level mosaic facade added in 1955.

Tuttle said he hopes to secure bulk parking spots nearby for the new tenants.

SANDRA BAKER, 817-390-7727