Have you ever been really excited about something, and accidentally said more than you should have? That’s what happened Saturday morning in the South Loop.
At a public event in a public building, the president of McCaffery Interests, Ed Woodbury, told the public a very private fact: His company is actively courting the world’s largest computer company to open an Apple Store at the Roosevelt Collection (150 West Roosevelt Road).
There have been rumors and wishes for years that Apple might open one of its iconic stores in the South Loop. It started when a store looking very much like an Apple Store was depicted in one of the early drawings of the $350 million retail and residential complex.
This is a common tactic among real estate developers. In the drawings they use to pitch potential tenants they will often include stores that look like a Starbucks, or a Crate and Barrel, or a Chanel. The depictions are strikingly similar to the designs of those stores, but without the logos or wordmarks that can cause legal trouble.
But an Apple Store is a whole other creature. For a retail development, scoring an Apple Store is virtually a license to print money. They draw thousands of people of a liquid demographic from miles away who might otherwise never venture anywhere near your mall. An Apple Store is like having Bono hand you a Stanley Cup full of unicorn tears while cherubs shoot arrows into your butt. Yeah, it’s that big.
So it was not surprising that you could hear a pin drop when Mr. Woodbury said McCaffery is in, “continuing conversations with them” and that a McCaffery leasing representative was in Cupertino, California this week.
He made an interesting note that it’s hard for American companies to get Apple’s attention these days because it’s so focused on expanding in China. He continued, “I will tell you that they are excited about the Roosevelt Collection. The demographics work. [And] the sales work for them.”
At that point, Mr. Woodbury realized he’d said too much and joked that he hoped there weren’t any reporters in the audience and asked that if there were, that they not report anything he said.
It hit the internet less than 15 minutes later.
When the Roosevelt Collection opened in 2009 its huge retail spaces were vacant, except for the Icon Theater. It remains that way today, but not for long.
The new owner, McCaffery Interests, bulldozed the empty standalone stores in the middle of the project, replaced them with a park, and simultaneously managed to ink a bunch of retail leases.
Right now, the vacant mall has contracts on 60% of its retail space with stores such as H&M, White House Black Market, Ulta, and others expected to move in very soon.
Over the years, rumors of an Apple Store have come and gone, with the most recent wave in July of 2012, when Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti told reporters that Apple was very close to signing a deal for a South Loop location.
The alderman’s prediction that Apple would open at the Roosevelt Collection by the end of 2012 didn’t work out, but this new information shows that the idea is still being pursued, and more importantly — that it’s not just the South Loop going to Apple for validation; that the highly influential retailer has a crush on the South Loop, as well.