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Thursday, April 26, 2007, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Apple's third Manhattan flagship to open in Meatpacking district

After two false starts, Apple said Wednesday it will finally open its third Manhattan retail store by year's end, this time on the lower west side in the city's Meatpacking District.

CFO Peter Oppenheimer announced the plans during the company's second quarter conference call, saying the store would be located at 14th Street and 9th Avenue. The district originally housed some 250 wholesale meatpackers, but has been in transitioned lately into trendy retailers, hotels, restaurants and nightspots.

For Apple, the west side store will mark the third out of a projected five store Manhattan project. Over the last two years, the company began and then cancelled store initiatives in the Flatiron District and on West 34th Street. However, it does operate two very successful stores in the SoHo district of the city, and on Fifth Avenue near Central Park.

Based on checks, a probable location of the new store is 401 W. 14th Street — a three-story, 52,000 square-foot corner property that holds a prominent location at a three-street intersection. The property is managed by R.K. Futterman & Associates, the same company that brokered the deal for the Apple Store Fifth Avenue.

The building at 401 W. 14th Street has undergone an extensive $10 million renovation after its original meatpacking tenant was reportedly forced out in early 2006 by an investment company that wanted to upscale the property. At least one restaurant has occupied the ground floor space since then, but moved out earlier this year because it wasn't making money.

News accounts have said that Futterman was looking for a single tenant to occupy the building at a cost of $5 million to $6 million a year. Other accounts said that ground-floor tenants were paying $300 per square-foot annually for the 12,000 square-foot space. 

The Meatpacking District was recently added to New York's register of historic places, limiting the architectural changes that can be made to the exterior of buildings. It's located about a mile from the Apple's SoHo store — where Apple also dealt with architectural limitations — and adjacent to both the Greenwich Village and the West Village.

Apple reportedly has at least one more store on the drawing board for Manhattan: somewhere on the Upper West Side, most likely in area of 84th Street and Broadway.

About the author: Gary Allen is the founder of ifo Apple Store, a publication providing close watch of Apple's retail business. When Gary isn't busy dishing dirt on the Mac maker's latest retail stores, he finds himself hanging out at one. For more of his work, check out ifo Apple Store and his in-depth coverage of Wednesday's retail announcements.