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Apple battling community over design of third Manhattan store

Apple Computer has been met with opposition from a local community board in Manhattan over a retail design proposal aimed at transforming a historic Fifth Ave. shop into a glowing two-story Apple retail store.

The site at 136 Fifth Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets in Manhattan\'s Flatiron district was built in 1850 as a four-story rowhouse. Its top two floors were lost in a fire in 1960 and never rebuilt.

Following the closing of Andrews Coffee Shop, which operated out of the location since 1982, Apple inked a lease for the 3,500 square-foot location through Winick Reality Group with the intent of removing the building\'s old facade, replacing it with gray limestone, and also to extending the rooftop. Easier said than done.

Since the Fifth Ave. location sits inside the Ladiesâ Mile Historic District, the local community board was not too thrilled with Apple\'s proposal. According to The Real Estate Observer, in March the board asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to prevent the computer company from making the renovations. The main point of contention was said to be a massive illuminated Apple logo that would serve as the sole identifier of the store.

Instead of trying to convince the LPC of the merits of its proposed design, Apple reportedly went back to the drawing board and chalked up a new one. Under the revised design, Apple is looking to demolish the existing building completely and replace it with a two-story retail store with an all-glass facade (rendering below). A large illuminated Apple logo would sit centered on the second story.

136th Fifth Ave. (Open images in new window for larger view).


136 Fifth Ave as of 7/22/05.
(TechnoLawyer Photo/ File)

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Apple rendering of proposed renovations. (Click for larger view.)


This latest design is slated to go before the LPC for a vote on Tuesday, July 26th (tomorrow). An Apple spokeswomen declined to comment on the subject, telling the Observer that the company\'s association to the location at 136 Fifth Ave. is \"speculation at this time.\"

Apple, which operates a flagship retail store in Manhattan\'s SoHo district, has also enrolled in the construction of a massive retail store in the underground concourse of the General Motors building near Central Park South. The forthcoming flagship location is rumored to open in time for the holidays.