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Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 08:48 am PT (11:48 am ET)

Grand Central Apple Store uncovered ahead of Friday's opening

Apple has taken down the tarps covering the front of its soon-to-open Grand Central Terminal Store, revealing the entrance to one of its largest retail locations in the world.

The stairs leading up to the store were previously blocked off by a large black display with digital sign teasing the forthcoming grand opening, but now users can see the entrance way, complete with a glowing Apple logo, on the east balcony. The stairs leading to the Apple Store are above the entrance to tracks 100 through 117, as well as the dining concourse.

The new Apple store looks down on the main concourse and features the company's signature look of maple wood tables showcasing the company's products. The open area is lit by chandeliers hanging overhead.

The 23,000-square-foot store will be one of Apple's largest retail locations in the world. It sits in a prime location in Grand Central Terminal, though which an estimated 700,000 people pass every day.

Apple sent out a press release on Wednesday, announcing that the new Grand Central store will open at 10 a.m. this Friday, Dec. 9. It noted that the store overlooks the historic Main concourse from the East and North East balconies of Grand Central Terminal, and features two Genius Bars.

The store is staffed by 315 employees and features rooms dedicated to retail services, including Apple's largest Personal Setup area in the world. There's also a Personal Training room, where Mac owners can learn the basics or sign up for the $99 One to One program.

The Apple Store Grand Central will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Even before its grand opening on Friday, the storefront has already generated controversy, as officials in New York have announced they are investigating the lease for the property that Apple negotiated with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The investigation was spurred by a New York Post article that revealed Apple is paying $60 per square foot for the property, compared to other tenants that pay more than $200 per square foot.

The MTA quickly fired back in a strongly worded statement, encouraging officials to "bring it on" and investigate Apple's Grand Central Terminal Lease. The MTA characterized the Post's report as "inaccurate," and revealed that Apple's lease will quadruple the rent coming in to the authority from $263,000 to $1.1 million.

Below are photos of Apple's new Grand Central Terminal Store, taken by Kim Bhasin of Business Insider, as well as AppleInsider readers Greg and Ryan.

Grand Central 2

Photo courtesy AppleInsider reader Greg.


Grand Central 3


Grand Central 1

Photo courtesy AppleInsider reader Ryan.


Grand Central 4

Photo via Kim Bhasin of Business Insider.


Grand Central 5