New Apple store opens in Grand Central Terminal

Thursday, December 8th 2011. | Internet News

Grand Central Terminal is about to become a high-tech hub.

Apple is opening its fifth Manhattan store in the bustling midtown landmark on Friday, aiming to capture commuters’ dollars.

“It’s going to be fabulous,” said Connecticut stay-at-home mom Cathy Landy, 38, whose husband travels to the station daily for work. “We don’t have to come to a shop often, but it’s nice to have it be so convenient.”

Grand Central Terminal

But don’t look for a giant glass cube.

Apple toned down its sleek design aesthetic to conform to the 140-year-old train station’s landmark status.

The white Apple logo adorns just a few spots along the east balcony, where the store sprawls out over 23,000 square feet, stretching out along the northeast side. It will be one of the retailer’s largest shops.

Much of the store, dotted with Apple’s simple, white tables, is open to the building’s iconic star-studded dome and looks out over the busy main concourse.

Catering to customers in a hurry, the store will be the first to offer 15-minute express tutorials on Apple products.

Time-crunched shoppers can also scan and pay for a product using an iPhone without even talking to one of the store’s 315 employees.

The building’s owner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said Apple is paying $180 per square foot over its 10-year lease.

That includes $5 million to buy the prior tenant, Metrazur, out of its lease, $1.1 million yearly rent, and $2.5 million for construction.

Unlike most Grand Central tenants, Apple will not have to share its revenues.

After questions surfaced a week ago about whether Apple was paying significantly less than its Grand Central peers, the state controller‘s office said it would begin conducting a followup audit to its 2010 probe into the MTA’s real estate practices.

“In this case, the MTA’s contract with Apple will be closely examined,” said Eric Sumberg, the controller’s spokesman.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan denied Apple got a sweetheart deal, saying most mall anchor stores don’t share revenues.

“They were the best bidder,” he said, adding Apple’s presence quadruples MTA’s rent and will bring foot traffic to other Grand Central retailers.

The store opens at 10 a.m. Friday.

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