Heritage Victoria has ruled that Apple cannot build a giant new store in Melbourne.
Apple hoped to build a global flagship store in the city’s iconic Federation Square. To do so, it applied to demolish the existing “Yarra Building”, which Apple said just couldn’t accommodate its hoped-for store and other facilities that it only installs in super-sized flagship stores.
Melbourne residents didn't like Apple's plan and lobbied hard to prevent the store's construction.
Anti-store activists relied on the fact that the Yarra Building can’t be touched without sign-off by Heritage Victoria.
And that body today issued a determination that put the kybosh on Apple's ambitions.
The determination [PDF] comes a month after the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne Committee resolved to oppose the store, following months of public debate sparked by Premier Daniel Andrews' shock announcement of Apple's plans shortly before Christmas 2017.
Even a public debate at Federation Square in which the square's original architect was roped in to argue for Apple's proposal didn't reduce public opposition to the project.
And now Heritage Victoria has rejected Apple’s plans on grounds that replacing the Yarra Building “would result in unacceptable and irreversible detrimental impact on the cultural heritage significance of Federation Square."
The document goes on to say that Apple’s proposed building is too big, out of character with the rest of the Square and eats into public space. Heritage Victoria added that the likely economic benefits of the Store don’t outweigh the damage done to Federation Square.
Activists who opposed the Apple Store are chuffed.
They’ve also reported that Apple has walked away from the project.
Update: Apple is walking, no appeal. It is over.— Rohan Leppert (@RohanLeppert) April 5, 2019
Apple confirmed the decision in the following statement sent to CRN.
“While we are disappointed we’re no longer able to pursue our plan for Federation Square, we remain committed to serving our customers in Melbourne and across Australia. All 22 Apple retail stores are proud to offer their communities a special place to gather, learn, and be inspired.”
Chalk one up, then, for the combined might of people power and a regulator that thinks aesthetic consistency matters: among Heritage Victoria’s objections was its belief that the Apple store “will detract from the design language of the existing buildings and public square.”