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Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Apple finalizes plans for third Manhattan retail store

Apple Computer will open its third Manhattan retail store at SL Green Realty Corp.'s retail joint venture at West 34th Street, according to Reuters.

"The team had to negotiate more than six separate transactions and explore the outer reaches of the New York City building code with help of several consultants," Andrew Mathias, SL Green's chief investment officer, is reported as saying during a third-quarter conference call with analysts on Tuesday.

According to the report, the deal for the Apple Store west of Fifth Avenue began with discussions of a 50-by-100 square-foot floor plan but the store will end up being 50 to 75 feet by 100 feet.

The Mac maker's quest for its third Manhattan hot spot has been met with its share of road bumps. Almost a year ago to the day, it abandoned plans for a glass enclosed two-story retail store in Manhattan's Flatiron District after being unable to come to terms with a local landmarks preservation commission.

Apple returned to the drawing board and in Dec. of 2005 was reported to have net-leased an entire 30,000-foot five-story building opposite the Empire State Building at 21 W. 34th St from Jeff Sutton of Wharton Realty and his partner, SL Green Realty Trust. A back-and-forth process then ensued, with Apple reportedly testing the limits of Manhattan's building code before recently finalizing plans to proceed with renovations.

It's unclear from the latest report when Apple plans to open the new store. However, a timeframe around the second half of 2007 would seem most likely given the company's previous retail initiatives in Manhattan.

Apple currently operates two other retail outfits on the island, each of which are approximately 20,000 square feet in size: an underground Fifth Avenue location that opened in 2006 beneath a 32-foot glass cube entranceway and a trendy two-story shop that opened in Soho in 2002.