Apple Opening Its First Bronx Location at Mall at Bay Plaza

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Bronx residents won’t have to trek to the Upper East Side or Yonkers anymore to get the latest Macbook and iPhone.

Apple will open its first location in the Bronx on Friday — the same day the company is releasing the iPhone 13 — in a ground-floor store at the main entrance of the Mall at Bay Plaza in Baychester, brokers said.

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“Basically, the No. 1 thing they were looking for is population density and it’s incredible in that area,” said Jim O’Brien, Welco Realty‘s vice president of leasing, who negotiated the deal. “Within five miles, you’ve got more people than some states have.”

The multinational technology company will immediately become an anchor tenant, after inking a deal for 10,391 square feet in the mall’s Center Court area — adjacent to an H&M store, Aldo shoes, and a Victoria’s Secret boutique. The store is directly between the 780,000-square-foot mall’s two other anchor tenants, Macy’s and JCPenny.

Brokers declined to reveal the terms of the lease or the rental price, but said Apple representatives stressed they wanted a large, open space to show off their laptops and phones and were scouting the location for a while. Apple also worked with Dallas-based Open Realty Advisors on its retail expansion, brokers said.

“Their preference is to have a column-free space, they’ll work with you,” said Jerry Welkis, president of Welco Realty, who represented the mall’s landlord, Prestige Properties. “t’s just their look. I think they like to show a big expanse. That’s just their marketing.”

The Bay Plaza mall’s location can’t be beat either. Exits off the Hutchinson River Parkway and Interstate 95, which crisscross the site, have given Bronx and Westchester residents easy access to the complex since it opened nearly a decade ago. But tens of thousands of shoppers merely walk to the mall from their homes in Co-Op City, which abuts the mall to the north.

That constant flow of mallrats has buoyed the suburban-style shopping center’s fortunes when other malls in the actual suburbs have been sputtering, even before COVID-19 shut down non-essential businesses for several months. 

Nearly 200 department stores closed during the first year of the pandemic, and another 500 could close in the next four years. But few retailers have left Bay Plaza, despite the growth of e-commerce and the threat of coronavirus, Welkis said. 

He attributes the mall’s stability throughout the pandemic to its multitude of attractions, and its ability to provide both outdoor and indoor environments for shoppers.

“We offer a really beautiful shopping environment, including a major food court on the third floor,” Welkis said. “We think we’ve brought something to the borough of the Bronx that didn’t exist before.”