The heart of Melbourne is set to host a new Apple flagship store. The tech giant has reached an agreement with the local government to move ahead with the project, with the city's Federation Square to be the home of the Southern Hemisphere's first ever Global Flagship Store.
This will be one of just five Apple flagship stores around the world. These retail spaces generally involve some spectacular architecture, such as the recently opened Apple Dubai Mall, with its gigantic solar-powered shading screens that open up in the evening over Dubai Fountain.
Apple Federation Square takes things one step further and will be powered entirely by renewable energy. It will also host daily workshops based around creative endeavors such as photography, music, app development and visual arts.
According to the State Government of Victoria, the project will create 250 construction jobs and bring an extra two million visitors to the Square each year. Construction is slated to begin in 2019, but already the project is generating significant backlash, with online petitions opposing it attracting thousands of signatures in less than 24 hours.
Part of this is because the Apple store will take the place of the Yarra Building, which sits on the southern edge of the civic space alongside the Yarra river and hosts the Koorie Heritage Trust, which houses indigenous artifacts and runs education programs to help preserve the Aboriginal culture of the area.
The Trust will be relocated to a larger premises in Federation Square, but for many this is beside the point: they simply don't want a towering corporate presence invading a public space meant for the arts, public events, culture and history.
For what it's worth, the government says the project will open up almost 500 sq m (5,382 sq ft) of public space along the riverside (because the Apple store is smaller than the Yarra building), and Apple will work to reinvigorate the Square, including efforts to install new LEDs as part of the world's first outdoor digital art galleries.
If all of this does go ahead, the store will open its doors in 2020.
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