(New York, NY - WNYC) Apple and Shake Shack have gotten preliminary approval to set up shop in Grand Central Terminal. The relatively upscale retailers continue the terminal's decades-long march from dingy transit crossroads to a combination of train station, ornately restored public space and glitzy retail mall.
The Apple store would occupy 2,300 square feet of a mezzanine in the Main Hall. It would not have glass walls but keep the mezzanine's open design.
The NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Finance Committee approved the new tenants this afternoon. If the board votes in favor of the deal on Wednesday, Apple would sign a ten year lease starting at $800,000 dollars a year and escalating to more than a $1 million a year. The move is part of the authority's drive to wring more income from its real estate holdings.
The MTA paid $5 million dollars to buy out Metrazur, the restaurant that previously held the spot. That caused some unease with New York City Transit Riders Council member Andrew Albert.
"You could probably replace every existing tenant in Grand Central with national chains because they have the ability to pay more," he said to the MTA's Director of Real Estate, Jeff Rosen. "Is that the direction we are going?"
Rosen said the MTA was committed to keep a mix of business at the terminal. He named several stores that operated only at the terminal or oa handful of other locations, including a spice shop and florist.
Shake Shack would be in the center of the lower level Dining Concourse. Its lease would be for ten years and range from $435,000 to $567,000 a year. The restaurant is known for its long lines so the MTA has already designated an area for people to stand and wait: an up-sloping ramp near the Oyster Bar restaurant.
Further unease, of a sort, was felt by board member Pat Foye, who represents Long Island. He noted that as Grand Central Terminal gets fancier, Penn Station stays the same, which he darkly referred to as "the cheeseburger gap." Foye wanted to know why the cuisine for sale at Penn Station, which serves passengers from the Long Island Railroad, was limited to simple foods like pizza and cheeseburgers while visitors to Grand Central can nosh on fresh salmon and endive salad before ascending a marble staircase to peruse iPads and Macbooks.
Mr. Rosen said the authority was looking into whether retail could be improved at Penn Station.