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Apple could open a flagship store in the District’s historic Carnegie Library in the next few years, but conceptual designs are still in process, a formal lease has yet to be authorized, and regulators must oversee any final plans.
Events DC, the city’s sports and conventions authority, which regularly hosts events in the library, confirms in a release that Apple has signed a letter of intent to rent parts of the first floor and basement under a 10-year lease with two five-year renewal options. The 63,000-square-foot facility and the land under it will stay publicly owned.
Finalizing the lease is expected to take several months, says Gregory A. O’Dell, Events DC’s president and CEO. Apple will pay market rate plus operating expenses “consistent with comparable retail space in the vicinity of the building,” per the release. Due to a non-disclosure agreement and the fact that Apple is working on initial designs, O’Dell could not discuss specifics of the potential arrangement, including floor area, rent, and “special events” to take place in the non-retail areas of the Carnegie. Local and federal historic preservation boards will consider the plans after they are submitted. O’Dell says Events DC will host community-engagement meetings.
“In the short-term, it’ll be business as usual” at the library, O’Dell notes. “We will continue to operate the building until we get certainty the project has been approved. We have to plan a transition process.” He adds that Events DC envisions maintaining the Carnegie as “a public gathering and educational space” to “respect D.C.’s history.”
In September, the Post reported that negotiations for Apple to lease space in the library were underway. Officials told the paper that the company intended for the D.C. store to echo its recently opened store at San Francisco’s Union Square, which has outdoor seating, public WiFi, and the ability to host events. Then, earlier this week, the Washington Business Journal broke the news that the parties had agreed to preliminary lease-agreement terms.
In a statement, Apple calls its possible new home “an exciting opportunity,” adding that its “location, history, and incredible architecture makes it the ideal destination for visitors to experience all of the entertainment and educational services Apple offers for the local community.”
Under the letter of intent, Apple will pay Events DC at the beginning of any lease term “in consideration of the estimated lost revenue” from the authority’s events at the library during Apple’s development phase, according to the release. O’Dell says Events DC sees Apple as “great partners” and would collaborate with them on events.
Events DC closed the Carnegie Library “out of an abundance of caution” for over two months after discovering mold in a couple of areas toward the end of September. It has since reopened after certain repairs, O’Dell says.
“It was in no way related to the conversation with Apple,” he explains of the environmental testing that found the mold. “This is a matter of course for us managing the building. We conducted a study to make sure it was safe.”
The library opened in 1903. The Historical Society of Washington has rented space there since 2003.