Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - May 18, 2012

Shop Talk

APPLE STORE IN STEALTH MODE ... A new Apple Store is quietly beginning construction at the Stanford Shopping Center. No one will publicly talk about it, yet no one will deny it. But it can't be missed. At 12,100 square feet and standing nearly 23 feet tall in a single story, it will be a behemoth of a building.

Why the big secret? An Apple spokeswoman would say only, "We've made no announcement around the store at this location so I'm not sure how much more I can tell you." A Palo Alto city official also did not reveal anything. Further, Stanford Shopping Center spokesman Jon Benvenuto said, "We cannot comment on the new tenant."

But the construction site is so extensive and intrusive that it can't be missed by anyone walking through the western portion of the mall. Ten-foot-high black sheeting, which extends into the courtyard and forces shoppers to walk around the barrier, conceals the work. The venerable frog pond is gone, but only temporarily. It will be relocated in the mall once construction is complete, according to one source. The new store replaces two vacant storefronts: the former Rugby Ralph Lauren and Williams Sonoma Home stores. Construction is expected to take about six months, with completion in mid-November, the source said, adding that the current Apple Store at the mall will close once the new one is finished.

Plans for the new store were submitted to the City last October, but they went virtually unnoticed by the public because the company was not named. On May 11, the final plans were handed over to the City's Development Office. They detail the construction and elaborate design of the project, and the Apple Store is prominently named. One seasoned industry observer who had viewed the early drawings called the building design exquisite. "It makes an elegant and dramatic statement. It is destined to become Apple's flagship store," he said. The structure features a tall glass cube with an overhang that extends well beyond the building. "It makes the space between the outside and the inside almost indistinguishable," the source said, adding that it will bear some similarity to New York's Apple Store Fifth Avenue, which also has a distinctive glass cube as an entrance.

A second Apple Store is also being built in Palo Alto and will replace the current downtown shop at 340 University Ave. Construction is well underway at 451 University Ave., in the former site of Z Gallerie . The store is expected to be completed several months ahead of the one at Stanford. The downtown store, which will also have a glass facade and roof, will be two stories plus a basement, with the total square footage at 16,600.

ADIENT IN ALMA PLAZA ... After six years at 120 Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto, Adient Health, a rehab center that offers physical and occupational therapy, is moving south to the new Alma Plaza. "We've done well here downtown, but we can no longer afford the rent in this location," clinic manager Kurt Koeppen said, noting that the landlord raised the rent significantly. Adient will make the move in late summer or early fall and will take up the entire second floor of one of the buildings. Next to Adient Health will be the 20,000-square-foot grocery store Miki's Farm Fresh Produce, which also plans a move-in date of late summer to early fall. Alma Plaza will go through a name change when it is completed. "We'll be calling it Alma Village," said developer John McNellis. With the construction of the planned 51 new homes, "we will have created a village," he said.

CORRECTION ... The May 4 column incorrectly stated the number of La Boulange patisserie/cafe locations in the Bay Area. There are 19.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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