Just when you thought it was too late in the year for big news: Apple has just announced that they'll be opening their new global flagship store in Federation Square in 2020, with building set to commence in 2019.
Apple's small number of concept stores across the world aren't your average retail spaces. According to Apple, the Federation Square space (which they're describing as "Apple's most significant store in the Southern Hemisphere") will be a two-storey building fully powered by renewable energy. Apple have announced that the project will create 500 square metres of new public space, bring two million new visitors to the square every year, connect Fed Square to the Yarra with better access, and run daily sessions in everything from photography and visual art to app development. Fed Square's lead architect Professor Donald Bates contributed to the plans for the two-level pavilion, which will feature wrap-around glass and balconies.
What does this mean for the existing tenants of Fed Square? The three-storey Yarra Building (currently home to tenants including the Koorie Heritage Trust and Melbourne Festival) will be demolished. Koorie Heritage Trust chief executive told The Age that the organisation would be moved to a larger space within Fed Square, with Apple footing the bill.
Not everyone is welcoming this news. The project (which has been negotiated for more than a year) was organised through a partnership between Fed Square and the Victorian Government. Melbourne Greens state MP Ellen Sandell told the ABC that "Victorians will rightly be asking themselves why this Labor Government continually lets our public space be taken over by corporations and private developers" – and Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert took to Twitter to question the lack of public consultation before making major changes to a community space.