For years Melburnians have wondered – and complained – about the lack of an Apple store in the city centre, with the tech giant's Melbourne locations restricted to suburban shopping centres. Until now.
Apple has revealed Federation Square as the location for its first Global Flagship Store in the Southern Hemisphere. It's only the second of this kind of Apple store to open outside of the US – the other is in Milan – and the fifth worldwide.
"This isn’t just any regular Apple shop," Fed Square says on its website.
"We’re thrilled to move forward in the planning process for our new home in Melbourne’s Federation Square and would be honoured to call the world-class galleries and museums of Melbourne our neighbours,” Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, said in a statement. "Apple Federation Square respects the original vision for the plaza, with a bespoke design concept and extensive landscaping bringing increased opportunities for the community to enjoy this renowned cultural hub.”
Donald Bates – the original architect of Federation Square – has given his approval for the new two-storey design.
Despite this, the announcement has triggered an immediate backlash, being slammed by the public across social media, and by a member of Melbourne City council. Councillor Rohan Leppert added his voice to the now thousands of comments and posts on Facebook and Twitter, saying that "changes to the planning scheme have already been approved without any public process."
Much of the public concern over the development centres on the fact the store will replace Fed Square's Yarra Building, which will be demolished. The Koorie Heritage Trust, which has operated out of the Yarra Building for two years, will relocate across the Square to the Alfred Deakin building.
Earlier this afternoon, the Koorie Heritage Trust Board released a statement to directly address these concerns. It says: "We wish to reassure all our friends and supporters that our Board of Management has made the decision after much deliberation to capitalise on this opportunity and relocate to new and larger premises, but still remaining on site at Federation Square. Also, we most likely will not be relocating until early to mid 2019, and apart from a short period of downtime for the physical pack and move, it will be business as usual for us." The board's statement goes on to detail the organisation's ability to expand in their new site due to increased floor space and public visibility.
The Herald Sun reports Apple will cover all costs in exchange for a 20-year lease.
The two level pavilion has, according to Apple's statement, "a sculptural quality, with wrap-around glass and balconies for uninterrupted city views. Metal cladding and stone flooring complement the adjacent buildings and plaza, while outside the new landscaped areas bring increased greenery and places to relax, meet and access the Yarra River and beyond."
The Victorian government says the Apple store's city location is expected to bring an additional two million people to Federation Square a year.
Due to open in 2020, construction of the two-storey building is expected to begin in mid 2019.
This article was updated at 5:20pm, December 20.