Plans for a flagship Apple store in Melbourne’s Federation Square, announced late last year by the Victorian government, have plenty of people riled up in opposition to the project.
Since Premier Daniel Andrews announced it just before Christmas, his Facebook page has attracted nearly 3,000 comments, many of them berating him about the decision and concerned about the loss of public space.
More than half of the 4,600 people hitting Facebook’s “like” buttons chose an angry face in response.
Comments such as “So I presume Daniel Andrews that this means you’ve convinced Apple to actually pay their fair share of taxes in this country? Why else would you let bulldoze an iconic element of Melbourne’s public space to further push a brand who feels under no obligation to pay taxes in our country” are typical of the reaction.
Announcing the concept on December 20, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail, Angela Ahrendts said: “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.”
Here’s how Apple describes the $100 million project:
The two level pavilion has 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.
It will be the first such store outside the US and just the third in the genre. The company says Apple Federation Square will be powered by renewable energy, create more 200 new jobs.
Addressing a key concern about the much-loved site opposite Flinders Street Station, which will see the Yarra building, which houses the Koorie Heritage Trust, demolished and replaced with the retail space, Apple says its project will increase the public space within Federation Square and improve access to the Yarra River.
But the controversy grew as the Victorian government rammed through approval for the project last month, bypassing its Fed Square partner, the City of Melbourne council, in the process, and Apple blocked release of the plans, insisting they remain confidential.
The secrecy around the project has been widely condemned by city councillors, architects and town planners.
Federation Square CEO Jonathan Tribe claims the Apple store will attract around two million people – nearly 5,500 a day – annually .
He played the interstate rivalry card, telling The Herald Sun the city was in danger of losing the project to the NSW capital.
“If this does not proceed there is a significant risk they would go to Sydney and I think this would be a disaster,” he said.
But when Apple approved the release of new images of the store last week, it sparked a new round of criticism, although one Twitter user, Larry Schlesinger, preferred to see the lesser of two evils in the design.
— Larry Schlesinger (@larryschles) February 3, 2018
But JB Hi-Fi, which last month joined the ranks of the world’s top 250 retailers, was quick to show an Australian sense of humour in response:
We don't know Larry…we'd be very subtle and you wouldn't even notice it. pic.twitter.com/1HxFlkhx5x
— JB Hi-Fi (@JBHiFi) February 4, 2018