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Apple battling community over design of third Manhattan store

post #1 of 35
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Apple Computer has been met with opposition from a local community board in Manhattan over a retail design proposal aimed at transforming a historic Fifth Ave. shop into a glowing two-story Apple retail store.

The site at 136 Fifth Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets in Manhattan's Flatiron district was built in 1850 as a four-story rowhouse. Its top two floors were lost in a fire in 1960 and never rebuilt.

Following the closing of Andrews Coffee Shop, which operated out of the location since 1982, Apple inked a lease for the 3,500 square-foot location through Winick Reality Group with the intent of removing the building's old facade, replacing it with gray limestone, and also to extending the rooftop. Easier said than done.

Since the Fifth Ave. location sits inside the Ladiesâ Mile Historic District, the local community board was not too thrilled with Apple's proposal. According to The Real Estate Observer, in March the board asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to prevent the computer company from making the renovations. The main point of contention was said to be a massive illuminated Apple logo that would serve as the sole identifier of the store.

Instead of trying to convince the LPC of the merits of its proposed design, Apple reportedly went back to the drawing board and chalked up a new one. Under the revised design, Apple is looking to demolish the existing building completely and replace it with a two-story retail store with an all-glass facade (rendering below). A large illuminated Apple logo would sit centered on the second story.

136th Fifth Ave. (Open images in new window for larger view). 136 Fifth Ave as of 7/22/05. (TechnoLawyer Photo/ File) Images: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Apple rendering of proposed renovations. (Click for larger view.)

This latest design is slated to go before the LPC for a vote on Tuesday, July 26th (tomorrow). An Apple spokeswomen declined to comment on the subject, telling the Observer that the company's association to the location at 136 Fifth Ave. is "speculation at this time."

Apple, which operates a flagship retail store in Manhattan's SoHo district, has also enrolled in the construction of a massive retail store in the underground concourse of the General Motors building near Central Park South. The forthcoming flagship location is rumored to open in time for the holidays.
post #2 of 35
I can see that happening. However, I'm surprised they do not use the opportunity to raise the building height. Real estate is at such a premium in New York, it seems to me they should try to make the most of it. Clearly that location is underutilized.
post #3 of 35
The building just looks screwy, why not do a granit or limestone facad?
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post #4 of 35
NIMBYs the lot of them. Apple's design is a breath of fresh air in what looks like a pretty decrepit area.
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by spylaw4
NIMBYs the lot of them. Apple's design is a breath of fresh air in what looks like a pretty decrepit area.

I had two of my own companies in that area for thirty years.

First of all, you know nothing about the area. It is anything but decrepit. It's an area that has expensive co-ops, condo's. Retail, resturants, etc. You can't tell much from those pictures, you have to be there. That is why Apple wants a store there. They only put stores where the area is upscale, which is why people keep asking why Apple doesn't put a store where they live.

The problem is that the rules have been enforced in strange ways, so it's a question as to what can go up. It's not true that a store can't be redone. But it should fit within the "feel" of the area. Having said that, there are stores with modern, and often ugly, fronts. They do inforce rules about signage.
post #6 of 35
To some degree preservation in NY has gone over board.

It is good for the community to have some voice, but man these days its getting really difficult to build interesting architecture there.

Even Donald Trump has said he does not prefer the bland buildings he often builds in NY. He says they are interesting designs at first, but are neutered by community groups into the bland buildings they become.
post #7 of 35
Apple has come across this problem before. They have usually been able to work it out. We don't have the kind of rules that some other countries do. As our friend from the UK can tell you, the rules there are very strict.
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by spylaw4
NIMBYs the lot of them. Apple's design is a breath of fresh air in what looks like a pretty decrepit area.

Quite the opposite. There are some very fancy stores feet away from the little group show in these pictures. New York has undergone big changes in the past 10 years in regards to the super (chain) stores spreading throughout the city into neighborhoods where smaller, privately owned business' use to be. I've eaten at Andrew's in the past but like most inexpensive restaurants they are forced to close when their leases increase (usually by 200% - 400%).

Tek Serve an institution for Apple sales and services is unfortunately just blocks away. Tek Serve has been "the" Apple retail presence in New York for many many years and I'm afraid it will suffer dearly from the new 5th Ave store. Let's hope the new Apple store will be for tourist and Tek Serve will continue to serve New Yorkers.
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by TenoBell
To some degree preservation in NY has gone over board.

It is good for the community to have some voice, but man these days its getting really difficult to build interesting architecture there.

Even Donald Trump has said he does not prefer the bland buildings he often builds in NY. He says they are interesting designs at first, but are neutered by community groups into the bland buildings they become.

Speaking as a New Yorker, you should see how ugly the new WTC has become from input by politicians, the police and the fire department. They are all looking for credit and attention by adding their two cents and in return we are getting a building and complex that will be far from inspiring and born of caution, fear and egos.
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by kerryb
Quite the opposite. There are some very fancy stores feet away from the little group show in these pictures. New York has undergone big changes in the past 10 years in regards to the super (chain) stores spreading throughout the city into neighborhoods where smaller, privately owned business' use to be. I've eaten at Andrew's in the past but like most inexpensive restaurants they are forced to close when their leases increase (usually by 200% - 400%).

Tek Serve an institution for Apple sales and services is unfortunately just blocks away. Tek Serve has been "the" Apple retail presence in New York for many many years and I'm afraid it will suffer dearly from the new 5th Ave store. Let's hope the new Apple store will be for tourist and Tek Serve will continue to serve New Yorkers.

TekServe is the one thing that bothers me about this move. I've Known David Lerner for many years, and while he won't admit it publicly, he is concerned. Apple has an interesting relationship with them. They send things to them for warranty repair.
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
TekServe is the one thing that bothers me about this move. I've Known David Lerner for many years, and while he won't admit it publicly, he is concerned. Apple has an interesting relationship with them. They send things to them for warranty repair.

The solution is simple then. Apple builds a new store for TekServe(gives them a very good lease terms) that meets the neighborhood requiremtents. Everybody wins. TekServe gets a new store, Apple sells boatloads of new computers, the neighbohood looks good. Apple PR makes Apple look like the good guys.
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just waiting to be included in one of Apple's target markets.
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post #12 of 35
1. Historical districts have value. They SHOULD have a say in this, and Apple has had to adapt to this kind of things in other locations. They will adapt again.

2. That glass design is supposed to be LESS objectionable?

(Wasn't there some Apple store that had a problem because pictures of food on signs were not allowed? And an apple is food? )
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by rickag
The solution is simple then. Apple builds a new store for TekServe(gives them a very good lease terms) that meets the neighborhood requiremtents. Everybody wins. TekServe gets a new store, Apple sells boatloads of new computers, the neighbohood looks good. Apple PR makes Apple look like the good guys.

Yeah, that would be simple.
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by nagromme
1. Historical districts have value. They SHOULD have a say in this, and Apple has had to adapt to this kind of things in other locations. They will adapt again.

2. That glass design is supposed to be LESS objectionable?

(Wasn't there some Apple store that had a problem because pictures of food on signs were not allowed? And an apple is food? )

The dummies thought that the Apple logo looked too much like advertising for food which wasn't allowed there.
post #15 of 35
I don't get it. Are we talking about the coffee shop in the middle? I'm all for historical preservation but it looks to me like there is no trace of the original building left to preserve. It looks like it has been covered with sheets of stainless steel or something. That's about as far from an 1850's design as anything. It sticks out like a sore thumb. The proposed glass design would look better but also look just as out of place as what is there now. Why didn't they accept Apple's original offer of a matching limestone facade? That would have been best for everyone.

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post #16 of 35
IMO the building that is there looks terrible, and the original building was half destroyed by fire, so why do people want to preserve it? I really dont understand.
I think that apples designs are not objectional, isnt that really the point of their designs tho?

stu
post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by 1984
I don't get it. Are we talking about the coffee shop in the middle? I'm all for historical preservation but it looks to me like there is no trace of the original building left to preserve. It looks like it has been covered with sheets of stainless steel or something. That's about as far from an 1850's design as anything. It sticks out like a sore thumb. The proposed glass design would look better but also look just as out of place as what is there now. Why didn't they accept Apple's original offer of a matching limestone facade? That would have been best for everyone.

That's why I said that the rules were enforced oddly. Also, these rules weren't always in effect. Before they were, anything could be done. They were instituted because of all the junk that was being put in.

No matter what is done there, it will look out of place because, as I remarked to my wife the other day as we walked by, the two VERY much taller buildings on either side make it look squeezed. Only a much taller building would look as though it fit.
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by spylaw4
NIMBYs the lot of them. Apple's design is a breath of fresh air in what looks like a pretty decrepit area.

NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard
BANANA = Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody
NOPE = Not On Planet Earth
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post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by rok
NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard
BANANA = Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody
NOPE = Not On Planet Earth

Thanks for the FYI, but to the originator of NIMBY above, I prefer people actually type out these phrases within a broad group discussion and save the IM crap for IM.
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by mdriftmeyer
Thanks for the FYI, but to the originator of NIMBY above, I prefer people actually type out these phrases within a broad group discussion and save the IM crap for IM.

NIMBY isn't IM crap FYI. ;-)

It's in the OED and even in the OAD that Apple ships in Tiger. It's an acronym that's been around since 1980, well before IM.
post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by spylaw4
Apple's design is a breath of fresh air in what looks like a pretty decrepit area.

Do you really think Apple would put one of its stores in a "pretty decrepit area"?
post #22 of 35
The Flatiron District is one of the coolest, hottest neighborhoods in town!
There are numerous photographers, designers, architects, modeling agencies, pro photo and digital output shops. Slick restaurants, high-end clothing shops, etc., etc., etc.. There may be a lot of big chain stores in the area, but mall it ain't. It's a lively and thriving neighborhood.

In New York, decrepit is cool. Sanitized chain stores are evil. A thing to avoid, like cars with New Jersey plates!

Tekserve is a huge concern for me. I've been going there for years through their various moves and gradual expansion. They consult, sell and repair everything Macintosh as well as pro graphic, audio, video, you-name-it AND all kinds of software and gadgets.

The current store... although it's unlike any store most have ever seen... is vast! I'd guess somewhere around 10,000 sq ft, counting their retail and repair areas. I'm not even trying to estimate their storage space, which is on a separate floor.

The Landmark Commission can be a real pain to deal with, but they DO make an effort to retain the character of neighborhoods. The "Urban Renewal" of the 50s and 60s woke people up and they do their utmost to keep eyesore stores and buildings to a minimum.

Anyway, if I had to make a choice? Tekserve would win!!!
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post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by kerryb
Speaking as a New Yorker, you should see how ugly the new WTC has become from input by politicians, the police and the fire department.

Yeah, that's true.

I live in Brooklyn, so I've been following the mess with the WTC.

To some degree it seems it could not have been any other way.
post #24 of 35
The NYC Apple Store in the old post office is beautiful and maintains perfect congruency with the other stores. That's the direction Apple should take with this.
post #25 of 35
Why not something with a brick facade similar to the Regent Street store in London. I know that the space is nowhere near as large but with a possibility to go for three stories something with that look and feel could go there.


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post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by mdriftmeyer
Thanks for the FYI, but to the originator of NIMBY above, I prefer people actually type out these phrases within a broad group discussion and save the IM crap for IM.

You mean save the INSTANT MESSENGER crap for INSTANT MESSENGER.
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post #27 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by spylaw4
NIMBYs the lot of them. Apple's design is a breath of fresh air in what looks like a pretty decrepit area.

Spylaw, I'm amazed at how your fantastic (TM) powers can discern how crappy Fifth Avenue is. That area is a stone's throw away from the Flatiron building and there are glitzy stores right down the block. Real estate in that area is sky high, and it's very clean and it sits in a MAJOR shopping district. You may as well call the Apple SOHO store a slum too, since it's next to a restaurant and a cobblestone path.

I suppose if I were to see a shot of Picadilly Square with skinheads ruffling passerby I'd have to condemn the whole area surrounding it as being scruffy as well, eh?

I'm as much of an Apple tool as you are but as a NYer I find your snap judgement from a handful of pictures just not very intelligent.
post #28 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by mynamehere
You mean save the INSTANT MESSENGER crap for INSTANT MESSENGER.

I'm still waiting for an expansion of FYI.

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post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
I'm still waiting for an expansion of FYI.


Well, it took me a while to figure out what IMO / IMHO meant since they can pretty much go anywhere and don't really give a sentence any more meaning than it had before.

EDIT: FYI stands for F*** You, Idiot
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post #30 of 35
They do have one valid point - I was driving past the Walnut Creek store the other night and the Apple logo is so bright it lights up the street in front of the store. Almost glaring for a driver.

It's un-Apple in its non-subtleness. It's Microsoft bright, not 'sleeping iBook cool'.

That said, the exist façade they're trying to preserve is not worth saving and it is BANANA tomfoolery they're dealing with. They tear-down is probably a way to get around redesign rules.
post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by ClimbingTheLog
They do have one valid point - I was driving past the Walnut Creek store the other night and the Apple logo is so bright it lights up the street in front of the store. Almost glaring for a driver.

It's un-Apple in its non-subtleness. It's Microsoft bright, not 'sleeping iBook cool'.

I have the perfect solution. When the store is closed, the logo... pulses slowly.

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post #32 of 35
Quote:
I have the perfect solution. When the store is closed, the logo... pulses slowly.

That would actually be unbelievibly cool

stu
post #33 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by aegisdesign
NIMBY isn't IM crap FYI. ;-)

It's in the OED and even in the OAD that Apple ships in Tiger. It's an acronym that's been around since 1980, well before IM.

Acronyms are evil.
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post #34 of 35
I think they need to go back to the drawing board. While the Andrew's coffee shop was not exactly a beautiful design if they are going to redo they might as well do it well and more in character with the neighborhood.

Quote:
Tekserve is a huge concern for me

While I'd certainly be concerned if I owned Tekserve there's definitely a market for them on the higher end stuff. I mean you're not going to buy a mac with digidesign hardware from the Apple store.
post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
I have the perfect solution. When the store is closed, the logo... pulses slowly.


That is such an awesome idea.

The store could be ready to go within seconds of opening the door in the morning, but shutting it down would take a little longer......
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