The rumors began swirling in February.
Apple, the stylish tech company that has redefined both retail stores and consumer electronics, was said to be looking to open its largest store in Grand Central Terminal, the Beaux-Arts train station owned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
A month later, it appeared Apple was pulling out. But it reemerged in the summer as the only applicant for a space formerly occuipied by Metrazur restaurant, paying $5 million to buy out the lease.
Metrazur had paid $263,000 per year to the MTA, with a lease until 2019, while Apple is set to pay an average of $1.1 million each year for a decade, according to MTA figures, more than quadrupling the rent.
But as the New York Post reported earlier this week, Apple's lease for the 23,000 square foot space came out to $60 per square foot annually, far below the $200 per square foot another new tenant, burger shop Shake Shack, is reportedly paying. The deal also lacked a cut of the profits for the MTA, something the agency does with the other tenants in Grand Central.
The story initiated an audit from the State Comptroller and some puzzlement from real estate figures.
On Friday, the MTA shot back that the Post story was inaccurate.
This is the best possible deal for the MTA. When all of the costs are included, Apple is paying more than $180 per square foot over the 10-year lease, Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the MTA, wrote in an email. As the competitive bidding process revealed, there are no other uses for this space that would generate the same revenue for the MTA given the up-front costs and limitations.
He noted that Apple was paying both the $5 million acquisition of the previous lease and would spend $2.5 million renovating the space, which is an interior landmark and thus can't be modified without approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Robin Abrams, an executive vice president of Lansco, who was quoted in the original Post story, told the International Business Times that the overall deal was strong and would benefit the other tenants in Grand Central by attracting foot traffic.
I think the deal is a very lucrative deal, said Abrams. Apple is a real traffic generator. They bring buzz, they bring energy, they bring people.
Faith Hope Consolo, chair of Prudential Douglas Elliman's retail division, called the original Post story sensationalist and said it was important to look at all of the various costs for Apple.
I think it was a good deal for both sides, said Consolo. You have to look at the whole transaction.
It's going to make Grand Central even grander, she added.