A group of campaigners seeking to stop the construction of a Foster and Partners-designed Apple shop in Federation Square has launched symbolic bid to buy back the precinct for the public.
In an action announced on 10 February, the Our City, Our Square group is crowdfunding $40 million in donations to “buy back Fed Square.” The pledges will not be called in, meaning that the “donations” are entirely symbolic.
The campaign is being run on the crowdfunding platform Pozible, with roughly $189,000 in donations made at the time of publication.
A statement posted to the group’s website said, “we’ve realized that we don’t need to fight the system - we should instead play by their rules.
“So, if Fed Square is up for grabs to the highest bidder, let’s get together as the public to raise the money required to outbid the competition and take back our town square. We’re the people who paid for it in the first place. Isn’t that what the free market is all about?”
The Yarra building at Federation Square is earmarked for demolition to make way the construction of an Apple shop. Federation Square management has submitted an application for a demolition permit to Heritage Victoria, which is currently being advertised for public submissions.
In its heritage impact statement, Federation Square management said, “The current use of the Yarra Building is not a viable economic use for Federation Square.
“Given the importance of commercial uses with Federation Square to FSPL’s ability to be self-funded, the current and likely future financial performance of the Yarra Building in the context of Federation Square as a whole is critical to FSPL’s long term financial sustainability.”
The Our City Our Square group said, “Based on demolition documents sent to Heritage Victoria, we guestimate that $4 million a year for 10 years is more than enough to fund Fed Square. That’s only $40 million to protect our town square for at least a decade.”
The campaign comes days before a deadline for public submissions to Heritage Victoria regarding the demolition permit application, which closes 13 February. Federation Square has been recommended to be included on the state heritage register. An interim protection order was placed on the precinct in August 2018. The Heritage Council of Victoria’s directions hearing for Federation Square for permanent heritage protection is scheduled for 14 February while a registration hearing will take place from 15 to 17 April.
ArchitectureAU’s coverage of the Apple Fed Square saga can be found here.