Apple Store may come to Yale

Mac users, rejoice: An Apple Store may be coming to campus.

As Yale University Properties renovates the campus Barnes & Noble store, which is consolidating and vacating part of the space, Yale Bookstore employees say Apple may move in to share the storefront. Yale and New Haven’s efforts to lure the electronics giant to the city started in 2008, when they co-hosted an Apple-themed party as an open invitation to the company. Yale Bookstore managers have strongly suggested that Apple will open shop in the vacant space, according to two employees who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

Neither Yale nor Apple would confirm or deny the rumors.

“Of course it’s true that Apple would be a desirable tenant,” Director of University Properties Abigail Rider said in an e-mail. “We have been marketing the space to a number of desirable tenants; we have no lease at present.”

In response to changes in the textbook and book industry, Rider said, Yale Bookstore and University Properties “came to a mutual decision” to reduce the Bookstore’s use of the retail space a few months ago.

A Yale Bookstore employee who asked to remain anonymous said there is a tenant lined up for the space — which used to hold Yale licensed goods on the ground floor and textbooks in the basement — though he is not allowed to reveal the new retailer’s identity because he may not speak with media representatives. Apple representatives have been spotted touring the space over the past month, the New Haven Independent reported Wednesday.

“We have not made any announcement about a store in that place,” said an Apple spokesman who declined to comment any further.

Currently, the interior of the old east wing of Barnes & Noble is hidden behind brown paper that covers the windows. The Yale Bookstore has removed its merchandise, but Rider said renovations have not yet begun. University Properties must first build a mock-up store called a “vanilla box” in the space to show to prospective tenants, she added.

The “vanilla box” is not the only construction planned for the property. In an e-mail to college masters and other administrators last Wednesday, Rider said that the Yale Bookstore’s entrance will be relocated to face Broadway. The arcade roof will be removed and outdoor seating at neighboring restaurant Thali Too will be expanded.

Thali Too manager Rattan Kaul said Wednesday that he does not know University Properties’ specific plans for the restaurant’s patio. He was sure, however, that he would like to see a store like Apple open next door.

“I’d be happy to see the crowd it would draw,” he said.

The size of those crowds could be cause for concern, said Elaine Bridges, a shopper who drove to the Yale Bookstore from Guilford Wednesday. Bridges — who found that the art magazine she wanted is no longer in stock because the store cut inventory during its consolidation — said Apple Store shoppers could overwhelm parking on Broadway.

But Jim Travers, New Haven’s Interim Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking, said such concerns are unfounded. He said that the Broadway area has ample street parking and parking lots, which can support any store that may move into the vacated section of the Yale Bookstore.

All seven students interviewed said they would welcome Apple to the area.

“I’m surprised, because I don’t think of New Haven as a prime location for Apple,” said Jonathan Martin ’12 when told of the rumors. “But I have a Mac and I would appreciate the move.”

Apple currently operates four stores in Connecticut. For customers in New Haven, the closest store is 40 miles away in Danbury.

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