Sneak Preview of the Grand Central Station Apple Store

New York City railway commuters had better get ready for some serious congestion on iPhone and iPad launch days. The Apple Store in Grand Central Station, which is expected to be approved later this week by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has been detailed – and Photoshopped – by the Wall Street Journal.

While yet another Apple Store opening may not sound like that big of a deal, Grand Central Station’s combination of history, significance and architecture make it an important opening. If the renderings provided by the WSJ are any indication, the station’s classical look will be integrated into the store:

While we’ve never seen an (open) Apple store that looked as sparsely populated as the one in this render, it’s a fascinating image nonetheless of what this outlet could look like.

Apple is expected to begin work on the store, which is estimated to take about four months, as soon as the official approval is given. The MTA is set to meet on Wednesday, and that could very well be the date for those NYC construction workers to start getting ready for business.

In order to get the space, Apple is paying off a restaurant (Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur) for $5 million to break its lease early. They are also planning on moving into an adjacent space, which is currently open.

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The MTA board members don’t sound like they have any hesitations about approving the store, as a recent meeting turned into an open mic night at fellow NYC rail center Penn Station’s expense. “It makes the Penn Station customers no longer second-class citizens,” said Suffolk board member Mitchell Pally. “It makes them third-class citizens.” Nope, there’s nothing quite like train station board members channeling their inner Don Rickles at the expense of a cross-town rival.

Amateur night aside, an Apple Store in Grand Central is a brilliant idea. Thousands of people pass through every day. They’re all about to sit on a train. Many of them will have several credit cards that are primed and ready to rack up a $200 new iPhone charge, a $500 iPad billing, or even a $1000 MacBook Air purchase. It’s a perfect match: mobile devices for people on the move.

Should this be as successful as Apple is hoping, perhaps we will see Apple Stores opening in other cities. While they don’t have the daily traffic of Grand Central, perhaps New York’s Penn Station (the butt of the digs above), and Chicago’s Union Station could be ripe for iPad displays and Genius Bars down the road.

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