Stockholm rejects Apple’s plans for historic park flagship store

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Apple Store
This mockup shows how the Apple Store could look.
Photo: Apple/Foster + Partners

Apple chooses some spectacular, historic locations for its Apple Stores — but those spaces don’t always want to be home to trendy retail stores selling expensive smartphones.

In Stockholm, Sweden, the new government has announced that it will block plans for an Apple Store in the Kungsträdgården park. While it welcomes Apple’s arrival in the city, it says that “Kungsträdgården is the wrong place.”

An article for The Guardian notes that:

“To many in the city, it seems astonishing that the company could ever have thought Kungsträdgården – the King’s Garden – an appropriate place for a store, however outstanding its design. The park looks over the water to the Royal Palace, connecting the city to the monarchy in the same way that the Mall in London links to Buckingham Palace. It is one of the city’s oldest parks, the venue for public events from Pride parades to election debates, political protests to winter ice-skating.”

While that description does, in fact, make clear why Apple would consider this an “appropriate” space for one of its stores, the move has nonetheless been heavily criticized. Of 1,800 responses to the city’s consultation on the project, virtually all — from conservationists to official bodies like the city’s official Beauty Council — answered negatively. What happens next is unclear.

Sweden is already home to three other Apple Stores.

Less a store, more a ‘town square’

Apple, for its part, has increasingly tried to cast Apple Stores as less of a retail center than a “town square.” Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior VP of retail, has described Apple Stores as, “gathering places where everyone is welcome.”

However, while that argument is open to criticism, so is the suggestion that Kungsträdgården is not a commercial space. In fact, the spot where the Apple Store would be located is currently home to a TGI Friday’s restaurant.  The Apple Store would be larger, but it would also be considerably more attractive.

This isn’t the first time that Apple’s retail ambitions have been thwarted by similar criticism. In Melbourne, Australia, a proposed Apple Store in Federation Square has run into related problems for causing a, “loss of definition to the square.” At present, it’s not clear whether the store will proceed.