Apple to take over Fed Square... 'ken Wut?

They already dodge paying any friggen tax here, now this is to be built on Public Land!! What the hell??

Backlash over plan to demolish Federation Square building to make way for Apple shop

Benjamin Preiss
6-7 minutes

The decision to demolish a large building in Federation Square to make way for a new Apple store has unleashed a torrent of criticism.

On Wednesday the Andrews government confirmed the tech giant had finalised a deal with Federation Square management to build the new “flagship” shop where the Yarra building now stands.

Hundreds of people condemn the decision to demolish a large building at Federation Square to make way for a new “flagship” Apple store.

The announcement triggered a spat with a Melbourne City councillor who said the decision was “appalling”, and prompted an avalanche of criticism on Premier Daniel Andrews’ Facebook page.

Hundreds of people condemned the decision in a torrent of negative comments and Facebook posts, with many urging the government to reconsider the move.

Age readers have described the plan as “absolutely disgraceful”, a “monstrous carbuncle” and an “appalling use of public space”.

Former premier Ted Baillieu was also drawn into the fray, criticising the plan in a radio interview.

Wednesday’s announcement follows more than a year of speculation about the deal. Construction is set to start in 2019 and finish the following year.

However, the government insists that Apple will foot the cost of the demolition and construction, which will also include the creation of 500 square metres of new public space.

The Koorie Heritage Trust, which is based in the Yarra building, will be moved to a new site within Federation Square.

Tourism Minister John Eren insisted the government offered no funding or other incentives to entice Apple to undertake the project.

The company will lease the building but the terms of that arrangement were not made public.

Mr Eren said the Yarra building needed commercial tenants to ensure the entire precinct was viable.

“It does need to generate some money through commercial ventures,” he said.

Mr Eren confirmed negotiations had been underway for about two years.

Apple retail senior vice-president Angela Ahrendts said the company was thrilled to move forward with the plans and was honoured to “call the world-class galleries and museums of Melbourne our neighbours”.

There are large Apple stores in suburban shopping centres across Melbourne as well as a shop selling Apple products directly opposite Federation Square.

The government insisted the redevelopment would create 200 jobs.

But Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert slammed the plans, accusing the government of failing to consult the public or councillors.

“It has radically different architecture and converts cultural space to commercial space – but [planning minister] Richard Wynne has made that change to the planning scheme by exempting himself from the normal public participation requirements,” Cr Leppert, a Greens member, told The Age.

“The bottom line is that this is Melbourne’s civic square and Melburnians deserved to have their say.”

The Yarra building and Koori Heritage Trust fitout cost a fortune. Is moving them at great expense across the square really a good use of resources? All the questions.
— Rohan Leppert (@RohanLeppert) December 19, 2017 

In response, a government spokesman said advice had been sought from Victorian government architect Jill Garner and Federation Square’s original architect Donald Bates.

“Mr Bates said the location was suitable for a commercial development and designed as such, and commercial and retail uses has always been part of its vision,” he said.

The architect himself said the Yarra building had not been particularly successful in its “various iterations”.

“I don’t have a huge problem with it being replaced with something that would be more viable,” Mr Bates said.

He also said it was appropriate that the new construction look substantially different from the Yarra building rather than mimicking the current “aesthetic”.

Ex-premier Ted Ballieu, who is also an architect, described the plan as a “bananas idea”. He told radio station 3AW said it was “completely incongruous” with the square’s existing buildings.

“It could only be a financial solution to a financial problem,” he said.

Mr Baillieu said he did not have a problem with commercial activity in public places, including restaurants and cafes. But handing part of Federation Square over to Apple was going “way too far”.

Federation Square and Apple were both powerful “brands” but only one could survive in the proposed arrangement, Mr Ballieu said.

“I don’t think Fed Square is going to have an easy time with Apple on top of it.”

Mr Baillieu said the deal would allow Apple to, in effect, “own the square in terms of the way the space is used”.

The Koorie Heritage Trust moved into the Yarra Building just two years ago.

But its chief executive Tom Mosby said it was already outgrowing its current space and had been assured there would be a new, larger site within Federation Square.

“In terms of our location it’s been fantastic. We’ve certainly more than doubled visitation,” he said.

“[But we’re] starting to feel the constraints of the space.”

Federation Square chief executive Jonathan Tribe said the new building would take up less space than the Yarra building.

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That’s ridiculous.


What the Fk do they even do with that building?

can we get rid of it? hideous.

“Looks hideous. Can we get rid of it?” was what people asked when the original fed square was built so it’s kind of appropriate in a way.


Government falls over itself to suck up to a rubbish business. Who’d have thought.


"Federation Square and Apple were both powerful “brands” but only one could survive in the proposed arrangement, Mr Ballieu said.

“I don’t think Fed Square is going to have an easy time with Apple on top of it.”

Mr Baillieu said the deal would allow Apple to, in effect, “own the square in terms of the way the space is used”."

Wasn’t a huge fan of Ted but he is bang on here.

Fed Square might be just about the ugliest building ever conceived but the way the space has been utilised is fantastic. Anyone who has gathered there to watch a sporting event or to participate in one of the various arts/cultural events knows this.

If Apple want to lease a space in Fed Square, fine - it is a mixed use space. But what they want is to turn Fed Square into Apple square, and that’s just fcked.


its a joke. honestly. just when people are starting to embrace fed square for the ugly cubic monstrosity that it is, they go and decide to put a fkg apple store in it.


There’s about a dozen businesses in there now - maybe 20. It’s a huge space, there’s 3 or 4 separate buildings, some of them with 4 floors above ground + 1 below. And now 1 business is a huge problem? Admittedly, retail, rather than hospitality, entertainment or that cultural mecca of generic office space. But 1 less story in the eyeline, and 500 extra square metres of public space - there’s definitely swings to the roundabouts.

And it’s unusual, to say the least, for an architect to admit their building is a dog.

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Out of interest Bloodstained, what’s your favourite and least favourite part of Fed Square?

It’s not exactly St Paul’s or the Empire State building. It looks like a Mad Max set fell over and a drunk person put it back together.


Get fvcked apple you big tax evading, spying ■■■■■.


7/11 are fine though, right?


So ugly Fed Square’s ugliest building - well, OK, it’s got a lot of competition - is going to be replaced by another building that occupies less space and people actually want to go into. Although it may or may not be even uglier.

I can’t say I’m dismayed.

I agree with your first paragraph.

I took it that he was referring to the financial success of the building given his recent comments about the financial challenges Fed Square is dealing with. Bates is being pragmatic that the square needs to also be a viable commercial enterprise. He speaks about it here.

Personally, I’ve always liked Fed Square. Not perfect as it lacks good shady areas. But it was different and didn’t try to be faux neo-classical-blah blah whatever copycat. Melbournians struggle with new stuff.
Yellow Peril, Fed Square. Just because you don’t like it does not mean it is rubbish.


I reckon the rest of it is OK. Not great, but visually interesting, and all the buildings seem to work well. and I’ve been into all of them, except for this one.

I mean… it’s offices. There’s thousands of offices elsewhere in melbourne.
If the council can tenant the Melb Festival and the Koori trust and the other tenants elsewhere, and make millions of rent off Apple, and open up more public space back to the taxpayer… where is the downside?

My least favorite part is where they let the biggest Tax Dodging asswholes on the Planet have a chunk of Prime commercial real estate in the most used Public space in the City, so they can make shitloads of money to not pay more tax on I think… :thinking:

Other than that, … , Would it kill them to have a tree in there?


Why should fed square be judged by “profit”? It’s a public space. Profit is by no means the correct KPI for a public space. @Bomb_Doe (And I quite like it…but then again I was an RMIT student back in the day, and spent years hating on Building 8 and the Batcave, only to realise they were both great…and the new one across the road may be even better)

@Henry_s_Angry_Pills “make millions of rent”. This assumes that apple is paying something vaguely approaching market rates. Which I think we can safely assume is not the case, given they were talking up the “economic benefits” of some mystical apple store tourism in the media release. I think we can assume the negotiations went something like this:

Steve Jobs Ghost: Hey Dan, we want to build an Apple store in Melbourne, you reckon we could have all of fed square?
Dan A: I don’t think we can give you all of fed square, we just spent billions redeveloping the thing
SJG: Surely you can cough up the half of it closer to the river, I mean you can obviously see the benefits of monetising the foot traffic between flinders st and the G / Tennis centre?
Dan A: I don’t think so Ghosty-man
SJG: Oh well, I guess we’ll take our store to Sydney, they’ve offered us a nice spot on the Harbour, Bennelong Point or something, they’re happy to demolish some minor public building for us.
Dan A: Sydney you say, hmm, tell me how this would work for you?
SJG: Well we build on the river side of Fed Square, and you reap the benefits of all of the tourism from having the only Next Gen Apple Store in the Southern Hemisphere
Dan A: OK, and how much rent will we get?
SJG: You’ll pay us about a mill a month for the honour of having our brand grace your city
Dan A: I’m not sure this will get through the cost benefit analysis
SJG: Don’t forget all of the jobs this will create. I mean with the millions of apple tourists every month the city will be billions in front every year
Dan A: Where do I sign?

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I agree that profit is not the only indicator of a public place’s worth. Far from it. In this case the upkeep of Fed Square is not being met by its income. Everything has to be paid for - public spaces may be free to use but they are not free to keep. So it’s a decision of does the public wear the cost of running that space at a loss? Or does the government better utilise the space to increase its commercial income from it? As HAP said, there is no shortage of commercial entities in Fed Square already. So making money from Fed Square cannot be the issue. Not sure what the real outrage is about - is it loss of that building? Or is it a knee-jerk backlash against Apple (i.e. big international bad boy company)?