Journalists around the world are scrambling to write speculative stories about Apple in the days before the company’s much-ballyhooed Sept. 12 announcement — and so are we!
But this newspaper cares not about the latest iPhone minutiae or miniature iPad rumor — we just want to know where Apple will open its first store in Brooklyn. We contacted the tech giant and heard nothing back, so we called in Brooklyn commercial real estate expert Chris Havens and started hypothesizing about where Apple will plant its roots when it finally settles in this Mac-loving borough. Here are the front-runners:
Apple is famous for its glass cube — but the makers of MacBooks could have their own glass triangular prism if they come to Brooklyn. The three-sided plot that houses Triangle Sporting Goods is up for sale, and the space just steps from the soon-to-open Barclays Center and Brooklyn’s biggest transit hub could make for an iconic home for the borough’s first Apple store. The footprint is a bit small compared to many of the brand’s shops, but Apple has been known to compromise — and the location boasts high visibility, plenty of foot traffic, and lots of eager laptop-toting shoppers in nearby Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill, and Fort Greene.
Havens’s take: “That would be a great location, but I don’t know if it’s big enough.”
Apple isn’t afraid of history — the iPhone inventors abided by strict city regulations to set up shop inside the landmarked interior of Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. So what’s stopping Apple from doing the same thing in the famous Williamsburgh Savings Bank? The cavernous former bank — which is the wintertime home of the Brooklyn Flea — boasts a stunning and similarly landmarked interior that could wow shoppers with little modification. That’s a good thing, because little modification is allowed due to its historic status.
Havens’s take: “Landmarks doesn’t want the interior to change. There are the teller cages and the tables — none of that could be touched.”
DUMBO offers almost everything that Apple coverts: an iconic retail space, a posh neighborhood, and a techy community filled with Mac users. The builders of Brooklyn Bridge Park are seeking tenants for the historic Empire Stores — a Civil War-era warehouse with a prime location alongside the waterfront tourist attraction. Apple would need to do lots of work to convert the building into one of its glitzy retail outposts. But upon opening, there would be plenty of foot-traffic from well-heeled tourists, not to mention customers from the web businesses that work in the neighborhood and DUMBO residents capable of paying Brooklyn’s highest rents.
Havens’s take: “The interior is not practical. And that location is not yet a 24-hour location.”
Williamsburg is the global capital of cool — and its already bustling business strip is poised to become an even bigger commercial corridor once a planned Whole Foods opens up shop on Bedford Avenue at N. Fourth Street. Could the arrival of a high-end supermarket could pave the way for a high-end computer store? If Apple really wants the skinny jean-set, the tech titan could snag a primo storefront one block away at the corner of N. Third Street that used to be home to the Bagel Store.
The vacant space has already been the center of much speculation — including rumors of a possible J. Crew takeover. Sources familiar with the building tell us a brand with an even higher profile is eying the space. But if Apple’s first Kings County shop is in Williamsburg, it could be tough to draw all of those Mac fans who live in Brownstone Brooklyn.
Havens’s take: “I don’t think it covers enough of Brooklyn. That space would work great if they want to do more than one store, which I hope they do.”
The Kings Plaza Shopping Center is about as far from the gentrified bustle of Brownstone Brooklyn and Williamsburg as possible — but a retail space doesn’t need blog buzz to make business sense. An Apple in Marine Park is a long shot, but the mall is already a home to major national retailers including a Best Buy, H&M, Aldo, and Express. And Apple doesn’t shy away for malls. Scoff all you want, but shoppers in suburban Long Island currently enjoy four Apple stores, while Brooklynites continue taking the train to Manhattan whenever they need to get to the Genius Bar.
Havens’s take: “It’s hard to imagine that.”
Where should Apple open in Brooklyn?