Apple wants store, 'genius bar' in Marina 

An Apple retail store — complete with a sleek glass façade and an in-house "genius bar" — may soon border the renovated Marina Theater on Chestnut Street.

Apple Inc. is hoping to open its third San Francisco retail store in the former Walgreens on Chestnut Street near Steiner. Apple opened stores on Stockton Street and in the Stonestown Galleria on 19th Avenue in 2004.

The San Francisco Planning Commission will hold a hearing on Apple’s proposal today.

A spokeswoman for Apple said the company is "excited to bring the unique Apple retail store experience to the Marina district."

If approved, the new Apple Store would coincide with amuch larger revitalization project on the 2100 block of Chestnut Street: Walgreens is moving one building over to occupy the first floor of Cinema 21, which closed in 2001 but is reopening on its second floor under the original name, Marina Theater, this fall.

"Chestnut has been undergoing a renaissance," said Jordanna Thigpen, commissioner with The City’s Small Business Commission and owner of Mask Italia on Chestnut Street. "Apple is going to put Chestnut on the map."

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Apple retail stores sell a wide range of the Cupertino company’s popular items — including iPod music players, desktop and laptop computers, and accessories for both — and provide hands-on technical support.

Many buildings along Chestnut Street have Spanish-style clay roofs. Apple’s original plan included removing the reddish clay tiles and installing a metal roof similar to its Stockton Street store.

Patricia Vaughey, president of the Marina-Cow Hollow Neighbors and Merchants Association, lobbied for the tiles to remain. Apple obliged.

Next door, the Marina Theater is in the final stages of renovation and is expected to open in the fall with two screens. It was a long journey for the theater. When its doors were closed in 2001, the owner proposed moving the neighboring Walgreens onto both floors. The Planning Commission turned down the proposal after theater advocatesmade a case for its historical significance.

Facing stiff competition from The City’s multiplex theaters, single screen theaters have shut down in most neighborhoods. There are about a dozen left, said Alfonso Felder, of the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation.

"I don’t think anyone thought both those theaters would be around in 2007," Felder said, referring to the Marina and Presidio theaters, both on Chestnut Street. "It’s exciting that not only are they both there, but they’re going to help enliven the street and add to the quality of life in the Marina."

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