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Friday, February 25, 2005, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple secures lease for third Manhattan retail store

Apple Computer has recently secured a lease for its third Manhattan-based retail store, AppleInsider has learned.

The store will join two other Apple retail stores on the island. The company operates a 21,000-square-foot in the city's SoHo district, and will soon begin renovation and construction efforts on a similar-sized location in the underground concourse of the GM building, located just feet from the southern tip of Central Park.

Unlike the aforementioned flagship locations, sources said the latest Apple store lease is for a 2000-square-foot space — about a tenth of the size of its SoHo store. It will touch down approximately halfway between the GM and SoHo locations, but a precise street location has not been confirmed.

Apple-authored documents appear to be listing this third retail store as "NYC-Flatiron," which would indicate a location near the Flatiron building at 23rd and Broadway.

An internal company scouting list of 600 potential US-based Apple Store locations corroborates these latest findings. According to the document, Apple's first wave of NYC-based retail stores called for 3 locations, which were ranked with priority indicators.

A 5th Ave. Midtown location (presumably the GM building) was listed with the highest priority. The SoHo store, prior to its inception, was listed with a priority of '2,' while the third and final "Flatiron" location was denoted a priority of '3.' The document lists the desired location of the Flatiron store at "22nd and Broadway."

Representatives for the Futterman Organization, the real estate firm responsible for handling all three of Apple's Manhattan-based leases, declined comment on the latest lease acquisition, citing confidentiality agreements with its clients.

As recently as last Thursday, Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs, was spotted roaming the streets of Manhattan and making a surprise visit to the company's SoHo store. Jobs may have also been in the area to check out the site of the Flatiron store.