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Friday, January 26, 2007, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Plans for third Manhattan Apple store nixed (again)

Its first two flagship shops in Manhattan have been a resounding success, but Apple's pursuit of a third outfit has reportedly turned sour for a second straight year.

According to the Forbes/Slatin Real Estate Report, the Cupertino-based Mac maker is backing away from a luxuriant plan to build a multi-level store on 34th St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

Citing unnamed sources, the publication said the image-conscious Apple, which leased the space from a joint venture between SL Green Realty Trust and developer Jeff Sutton last fall, is having second thoughts about the location's "coolness" and plans to put the site up for sublease.

From the start, "Apple had doubts about the compatibility of its leading-edge image with that of middle-America 34th St., at least as it currently stands," the report states. It notes that while retailers like Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Forever 21 are happily situated along the row, "unfortunately, a lot of the old 34th St.—third-rate tourist merchants and rip-off artists—still remain."

For Apple, the reversal marks its second on a third Manhattan location in less than two years. In the fall of 2005, it abandoned plans for a glass enclosed two-story shop in Manhattan's Flatiron District after a tiresome battle with a local landmarks preservation commission.

The company's second go on 34th street would have been for a 30,000-square-foot, four-story store with about 75 feet of frontage. The lease on the site, according to Forbes, runs about $5.5 million a year.