Spectacular Space for Apple?

April 30, 2006

Just four years after moving into an iconic building and spectacular retail space on Boston’s (Mass.) tony Newbury Street, Virgin Records and the building’s management announced that the Megastore at 360 Newbury Street will close by June 2007 so that an unidentified “upscale retailer” can move in. The 40,000 square-foot, ground-floor space is just two blocks from Apple’s proposed high-profile store on Boylston Street, whose design was roundly criticized recently by city planning officials. It appears the landmark Newbury St. location would require only slight renovation to convert it to an Apple store, thereby eliminating any opposition city officials might have had to Apple’s entré into the city’s downtown.

The building at 360 Newbury St. was built in the 1920s as office and retail space, but was redesigned by architect Frank Gehry in 1989, and more recently renovated to provide 54 luxury condominiums on the upper floors at prices ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. The location would provide comparable if not better demographics for an Apple store, since Newbury Street is heavy with upscale retailers, and is more pedestrian friendly than busy Boylston Street.

Apple has previously negotiated with an existing retailer to vacate its space so they could install a retail store. The San Francisco (N. Calif.) store occupies the space where cosmetics retailer Sephora had a two-story, corner store. Apple reportedly assumed the remaining 10 years of a $1.7 million per-year lease from Sephora. They prompty demolished the building and constructed their own two-story retail building. Sephora moved their retail operation to a smaller, nearby space.

The retail space is nearly twice as large as any existing Apple store, although some of the space could be devoted to administrative offices, repair and service facilities, and training classrooms.

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