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Third NYC Apple store near ready; another set for Northern Ireland

(ifoAppleStore) All credible sources are pointing to December 7th or 8th as the opening date for Apple's flagship retail store on 14th Street in New York City, despite on-site glimpses of the interior that show substantial construction remains to be finished. Meanwhile, plans are under way for the company's first store on the island of Ireland.

Third Manhattan flagship

The large store at the corner of 9th Avenue and 14th Street in the heart of Manhattan's Meatpacking District will be spread over two levels connected by a spiral glass staircase, which is already installed.

Apple will occupy the highly-visible corner space in the store, with at least two other tenants taking up other spaces in the building. Like Apple's other stores on the island, the architecture at this location will be distinctive and won't include a stainless steel exterior. Rather, it will be mostly large framed windows and masonry.

Apple's construction team routinely works against tight deadlines and under a standard for perfection —and rarely misses. Workers at the just-opened Chestnut Street store in San Francisco, Calif. worked 24-hours in the final days before it opened, and it's expected that will also occur at the 14th Street store.

Update: December 7th is indeed the date.

Apple Store Meatpacking District

A floor plan showing Apple's space on 14th Street in Manhattan.

Belfast to get Apple store

Meanwhile, Apple is firming up plans to expand its European presence with a store in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The company is in the final negotiation talks with Victoria Square, a huge city center complex opening in Spring 2008 that will include retail, apartments, offices, restaurants and bars and entertainment venues.

Right now, Apple has reserved a space on the second level of the 800,000 complex. It would be the first store on the island, which ironically is already home to a substantial Apple technical support team, based in Cork (Republic of Ireland).

Apple Store Meatpacking District

Apple will reportedly occupy this space at Victoria Square.

Sources say Belfast may have been selected for the island's first store based on the currency: it's part of the UK and uses the British pound, while Dublin (Republic of Ireland) uses the Euro.

Some stores stripped naked

Lastly, Apple has just completed the latest round of on-going renovations to its stores, taking out old Corian "kidney" display counters and replacing them with wood tables, converting wood floors to stone, and replacing the rear-located cash register counters with Genius Bars.

At least 10 stores were renovated in the months just prior to the holiday shopping season that began with last week's Black Friday. The conversions typically begin with with the take-down of the existing fixtures, and one of them was documented in photos by an Apple employee and posted on a flickr account.

Oak Brook Apple Store Renovations

Oak Brook Apple Store Renovations

Oak Brook Apple Store Renovations

Oak Brook Apple Store Renovations

The photos from the Oak Brook, Ill. retail store provide a rare glimpse of the store with products stripped from shelves, the display fixtures overturned, the Genius Bar LCDs screens removed from the wall, and the debris that was left behind.

After the take-down, workers constructed a plywood barricade in front of the store, which was closed from Oct. 22 to Nov. 9 while the main construction was performed.

Gary Allen is the creator and author of ifo Apple Store, which provides close watch of Apple's retail initiative. When Gary isn't busy publishing news and information on Apple's latest retail stores, he finds himself hanging out at one.