It Would Be Canada’s Coolest Apple Store, But Now It Might Not Happen

Apple Store The One Toronto concept 2 Credit: The One concept image (Foster + Partners)
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While Apple has some seriously amazing retail stores around the world, not every country can boast of being the home of floating orbs and giant glass cubes. Still, Apple continues to open more spectacular new stores all the time, but sadly, it looks like some big plans for a flagship store in Canada may have run into a pretty big snag.

Five years ago, Mizrahi Developments began construction of The One, a 1005-foot skyscraper in the heart of Toronto promising to become Canada’s tallest mixed-use residential and commercial building. In addition to being home to over 400 condo units, it also promised a Hyatt hotel and 18 floors of retail space. Rumors swirled from almost the very beginning that Apple was lined up to become its biggest tenant.

By 2018 it was pretty much a wide-open secret among the commercial real estate community, with a real estate firm CBRE calling the site “the future home of Apple.”

Rumors of Apple setting up a flagship store at Yonge & Bloor, which is basically the nexus of Toronto’s downtown core, go back to 2012. It’s uncertain how much truth there was to these previous rumors, but with several failed property development projects in this area, it’s possible Apple had plans that simply never worked out.

Now, sadly, it looks like The One could become another such failure.

According to The Globe and Mail, Apple is threatening to pull out of the massive retail and condo project, citing numerous delays amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and other complications.

Apple at The One

Apple was set to lease more than 15,000 square feet of space within the new development, including 9,000 square feet on the ground floor. This would have not only put the new store as one of the largest in the country, but Apple also had architects Foster + Partners. The same firm has designed its flagship stores in major cities such as Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, Singapore, and Marunouchi, Japan to come up with another one of its landmark designs.

This would include “an arresting glass architecture and soaring ceiling,” as well as an incredibly expensive customized glass design to surround the space, which would become the hallmark of the ground floor retail space.

Apple’s space is surrounded by seven layers of glass with no breaks. That was made up of 34 panels custom fabricated from integrated units at an average cost of $400,000 per panel, in the signature and iconic style of flagship Apple stores around the world, Mizrahi stated in its court filings.

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail describes getting Apple into his space as “a coup for [developer] Mr. Mizrahi,” to the point where Mizrahi agreed to pay over $6 million to Apple’s architect to cover the cost of designing the store.

Unfortunately, there’s evidence that Apple may have run out of patience. The company has told Mizrahi Developments that it’s looking to exercise an option in the lease agreement that would allow it to exit without penalties if the developer misses specific deadlines — which Apple is suggesting it has.

These details have recently come to light due to documents filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last October by Mizrahi in an attempt to block Apple’s exit.

Mizrahi insists that his company has not missed any deadlines and that Apple, therefore, does not have the option to terminate the lease. Mizrahi isn’t seeking damages but rather an injunction that would stop Apple from leaving.

[We will] suffer irreparable harm from losing a world-class tenant that was intended to be an anchor tenant for a world-class property, which is a loss that cannot be compensated in damages.

Mizrahi Developments court filing

In the court filing, Mizrahi’s lawyers also argue that Apple simply doesn’t understand what’s involved in a project of this scope, stating that the company’s position “flies in the face of the commercial and practical realities of the construction process.”

While COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have unavoidably slowed down production — construction sites in Ontario were shut down for the better part of the year — Mizrahi’s company adds that the project was also delayed while it waited for Apple to choose its design for the storefront glass.

According to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail, Mizrahi told Apple in December 2020 that it would be pushing out the delivery of the space until Oct 31, 2021. Apple responded by saying that it would be terminating the lease, offering up a list of items that it believed Mizrahi would not be able to deliver.

Neither Apple nor Mizrahi Developments have offered up any comment on the matter. There have not yet been any judgments issued in the case, or even whether the parties are attempting to resolve the issue out of court.

It’s entirely possible that Apple is merely trying to jockey for position here, but should the iPhone maker decide to pull out, Mizrahi would be forced to find somebody else to occupy a space that the developer explicitly designed with Apple in mind.

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