Apple's Bay Street store, which is 2.7 miles from Berkeley's Fourth Street. Photo: Flickr Commons.

Apple will open one of its sleek retail operations on Fourth Street in Berkeley, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The computer giant will take over the former Slater Marinoff space at 1823 Fourth Street, currently being used by Ford Motor Co. as a pop-up store, and will probably open around March next year, according to several reliable independent sources who asked that their names not be used.

Nobody at Apple or in the City of Berkeley would comment on the news.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” said Michael Caplan, Berkeley’s economic development manager.

Apple would not corroborate the speculation either. Spokesperson Amy Barney said: “We’ve made no announcements about a store in that location.” Asked whether Apple planned to, she replied: “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.” Calls to Denny Abrams, who manages Fourth Street’s retail operations, were not returned.

A number of sources, including some Fourth Street merchants and other business owners, told Berkeleyside they had heard that Apple was coming to town.

The closest Apple store to Berkeley is at 5656 Bay Street in Emeryville which is 2.7 miles away from the Fourth Street space.

The arrival of a blue-chip brand such as Apple in one of Berkeley’s prime retail districts will provide a significant morale and economic boost for the city which has seen retail sales drop by nearly $200 million over the past two years.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...