MTA Approves New Apple and Shake Shack Stores for Grand Central

By Nicole Bode on July 27, 2011 1:27pm 

Apple is cleared to open its latest location in Grand Central Terminal after the MTA approved the move Wednesday.
Apple is cleared to open its latest location in Grand Central Terminal after the MTA approved the move Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

MANHATTAN — Grand Central Terminal is about to become a little hipper and tastier.

The Apple Store and Shake Shack were greenlighted to move into the station this fall during a full MTA board meeting Wednesday.

No board member voted against the plan, according to an MTA spokesman.

"Our four stores in Manhattan are incredibly popular with customers and we're excited to bring the Apple retail experience to this incredible location," an Apple spokesman said earlier this week.

The MTA's Metro-North and Finance committees had voted on Monday to approve the two leases, which MTA Director of Real Estate Jeffrey Rosen described as "game-changers" for the station.

Apple would take over the space now occupied by long-time tenant Metrazur on the east balcony, as well as the northeast balcony, to create a 23,000-square-foot store, reportedly its largest.

The tech company would pay Metrazur $5 million to terminate its lease early, and would then pay the MTA $800,000 in rent in the first year. That amount would increase to $1.043 million in the last year of their 10-year deal. The company would also make substantial investments to retrofit the space, Rosen said.

Unlike many of its other locations, Apple would not construct any type of glass structure around the showroom, according to preliminary plans, which reveal an open design with merchandise displayed along large wood or stone tables and a single glowing "Apple" logo beckoning commuters to the store.

The company would not be permitted to set up merchandise or cashiers adjacent to the balconies' balustrades, so that visitors can still look out across the station, said MTA spokeswoman Margie Anders.

Meanwhile, Midtown Shake Shack-lovers may no longer have to travel to near the Port Authority Bus Terminal to get their burger, fry and frozen custard fix. The chain is poised to replace the Mexican eatery Zocalo on the lower-level dining concourse, where it would occupy a 2,270-square-foot space.

Under a 10-year lease, the Danny Meyer-helmed burger joint would pay $435,000 for their first year, with the total gradually increasing to $567,000 in its last.

While the chain's proposal was not the MTA's highest offer for the space, Rosen said members felt the eatery's drawing power would help to boost business throughout the terminal.

"The opportunity to introduce a Shake Shack at this location is, I think, an exceptionally exciting one," he said.

While committee members did not raise concerns about the potential impact of the chain's famously pungent smells, there were questions about the lines of customers expected to form outside the store.

Rosen said the chain has agreed to begin the lines inside of its space and then to have them snake up the ramp toward the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Rosen said his goal is to create a mix of retailers in the terminal, which is currently seeing a major wave of new tenants, Beer Table Pantry and the Tri Tip Grill.

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