Apple On The Express Track To Grand Central

A little over 24 hours ago, I wrote about gadget giant Apple & their hopeful plans to build their biggest store in the world inside of Grand Central Terminal. The company’s plan needed to first be approved by the MTA Financial Committee which was set to meet later in the day.

As expected, the committee put their seal of approval on the lease plans & the next step comes tomorrow when the full board must do the same. Andrew Grossman of the Wall Street Journal has more:

After months of on-again, off-again negotiations and rumors, Apple Inc. is set to add its glowing white logo to the glittering stars in Grand Central Terminal’s firmament.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority took a first step Monday toward approving a 10-year lease with the company for a store on the terminal’s east balcony. The agency’s full board is expected to approve the lease Wednesday.

After that, Apple plans to spend about four months building the store, according to MTA documents. The company will also pay Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur $5 million to exit its lease on the space eight years early.

Apple isn’t planning to install any dramatic structures similar to its Fifth Avenue cube in the landmarked building, according to renderings shown at an MTA board meeting. The company’s logo will sit above the staircase leading from the main commuter concourse to the store. It doesn’t appear to be any larger than the face of the clock in the center of the terminal.

The space will cost Apple $160 per square foot, Mr. Rosen said. But that includes the payment to Metrazur and some construction Apple has agreed to complete, like building elevators for employees and work on a loading area. Still, the MTA will get a significant boost in revenue from its new tenant. In the first year, Apple will pay its consistently money-short landlord $1.1 million. Metrazur paid $263,997.

The deal with Apple comes amid a broader MTA push to wring more cash from its real-estate holdings. The MTA said Monday that it would hire Cushman & Wakefield to help it restructure its office space and weigh the sale or lease of its headquarters complex at 347 Madison Ave.

The authority also announced Monday a lease deal with Shake Shack, which will open one of its hamburger restaurants near the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

“I can’t imagine why any kid in Westchester would want to do anything other than go into Grand Central and shop at Apple and eat at Shake Shack,” Mr. Rosen said.

Click here for the complete report.

However all did not sit well with some board members such as Pat Foye representing Nassau County who said:

Kids from Long Island and Jersey can take the 1 and 2 [subway lines] and then the shuttle” to buy iPads and Shackburgers. This creates not only a digital, but a cheeseburger divide, between the two.

This was followed up by Suffolk County member Mitchell Pally saying:

It makes the Penn Station customers no longer second-class citizens,” he said. “It makes them third-class citizens.

While the comments come across as showmanship, they do highlight the clear reality that Penn Station is severely lacking as a transit hub & needs some seriously updating to properly meet the needs & demands of Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, & NJ Transit riders. As someone who frequents Penn Station, I know just how pathetic the station truly is. Metro-North riders have it so good.

As far as the actual numbers go, I feel Apple is getting off a bit cheaply here. They would be acquiring some prime real estate in Manhattan & to get it for under $200 a square foot is quite a gift. Are they getting a potential sweetheart deal? I do wonder….

xoxo Transit Blogger

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