Stockholm council dumps controversial Apple flagship proposal

A newly elected governing alliance for the Swedish capital has signed an agreement to drop plans for an Apple retail outlet at a prominent park in central Stockholm.

The store, designed by Foster and Partners, was first proposed in 2016 and would have occupied a privately owned site at the edge of Kungsträdgården in the centre of the city, which dates back to the 15th century. Apple has purchased the site, which is currently occupied by a TGI Fridays restaurant.

Critics of the proposal say the store would have commercialized the public park and the design of the store would block an entrance to the park from Hamngatan, a thoroughfare adjacent to the park.

In April 2016, a majority of Stockholm City Council voted to support the proposal with conditions, including that the building must have two fronts – one facing Hamngatan, which is to be commercial, the other facing Kungsträdgården, which is to be a cafe.

A revised design for the store was exhibited for public comment in July 2018. The new proposal, however, was still widely unpopular with Stockholm residents. A poll conducted by SVT News Stockholm revealed 79 percent of residence though the proposal was “bad” while only 14 percent thought it was “good.”

In September Swedish elections, Stockholm city council’s governing parties – Social Democrats, Green Party and Feminist Initiative – lost their majority. A new alliance forged between the Green Party and an alliance of centre-right parties took power of the council.

The group agreed to halt plans for the Apple store as well as plans for Stockholm to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Apple’s senior vice president of retail Angela Ahrendts is behind the strategy to rebrand its shops as “town squares,” that has seen the company seek out retail locations in prominent public places around the world. In Melbourne, a proposal to demolish part of Federation Square to make way for a store has faced fierce backlash, while in Washington D.C., plans to locate a store in Carnegie Library has also faced criticism.

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