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The Apple store being constructed on Madison in the stately 1922 limestone-and-marble bank building across from the recently vacated Whitney Museum will be finished by June, a workman on the site graciously told me. He also let me peek through the plastic curtains at a blaze of white marble, until someone shouted to get out of the doorway.
Apple has never confirmed its plans for the retail shop. It secretly and furtively began interior demolition almost a year ago and didn’t even post work permits on the exterior until 311 was flooded with inquiries and complaints. It has refused all requests from the media for comment.
A posse of neighbors opposed to the arrival of Apple sprang together in recent weeks, claiming the store will attract hordes of rowdy “mobs” sleeping on the sidewalk, but it is too late to derail the canny coders from Cupertino.
It’s all being masterminded by Angela Ahrendts, the luxury retailing genius that Apple lured away from Burberry with a $67 million bonus. She’s upscaling the brand, beginning with her soft launch of the iWatch in high-end boutiques in Europe, Asia and, of all places, Hollywood.
Neighbors kvetching that the new Apple store will transform the block are not wrong. It will, for good and for bad. The area around the 58th and Fifth flagship where the 30-foot glass cube landed almost a decade ago has never been the same.
In an eerie coincidence, both of Apple’s next-door neighbors announced this week they are pulling out. FAO Schwartz will leave this summer, citing rising rents, and A La Vieille Russie, the venerable vintage jeweler across 59th street in The Sherry Netherland since 1961, will slip away next year.
As an historical footnote–do you like historical footnotes?–the editors of Orb remember long ago when the subterranean space now housing the Apple store was a theme restaurant for the General Motors Building. Instead of having tables or booths, diners and drinkers were served while seated in 1950s-era Caddy and Chevy convertibles, as if they were at a drive-in. We’re not making this up–who could? Well, maybe Quentin Tarantino could.