Marina hopes for Apple store

Chestnut Street merchants believe possible site would serve as shopping magnet

Apple Computer Inc.’s interest in possibly opening a store along Chestnut Street in San Francisco has business owners and residents anxiously anticipating the computer giant’s arrival.

The iPod maker is studying whether a site in the 2100 block of Chestnut Street would be a good location for the company’s third store in The City, according to Larry Badiner of the Planning Department. Business owners along the quiet street that mixes small shops with corporate chains like the Gap are hoping the store can become an anchor of the street and draw new shoppers to the neighborhood, according to Jim Maxwell.

“Certainly it’s big booming business where they currently have locations,” said the former president of the Marina Merchant’s Association. “We see it as opportunity to draw people to the Marina that don’t come here right now.”

An Apple representative said it is company policy not to discuss possible future locations for its store, or the financial stability of the company’s other two San Francisco locations. The site is home to a Walgreens drug store, which is set to move next door in October into a new building under construction. The new building will house Walgreens at street level and on top it will have a refurbished Marina Theatre.

To 83-year-old Gary Eady, a longtime resident of the neighborhood, having the Apple store open next door to the movie theater makes sense to him because he said the only way to get people to stop playing with their laptop computers at home is to get them to go out and watch a movie.

“Folks don’t leave their homes because of all the technology,” he said, adding that he thinks the combination will have more people walking on the streets looking at other stores.

But, while Apple is still studing the feasibility of the site, some residents are trying to prevent the store from transforming the storefront into one of its well-known sleek, space-age designs, according to Maxwell. The Planning Department has received complaints that Spanish tiles on the roof of the current Walgreens are native to San Francisco and thus cannot be torn down as any part of the redevelopment. Calls to the woman who filed the complaint were not returned. But the Planning Department told business owners that they do not believe the tiles are native, according to Maxwell. Badiner said Apple is still in the early stages of its development.

sfarooq@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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