Why Stockholm’s City Council Blocked Apple’s New Retail Store

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Stockholm’s city council has blocked Apple’s plans to build a new store in one of the city’s historic parks.

Apple’s new flagship store was to be constructed in Kungsträdgården, or King’s Garden, one of the Swedish capital’s oldest parks. The urban park, which dates back to 1430, sits in front of the Royal Palace and is considered one of the most popular hangouts in the city.

The previous members of city council approved Apple’s proposal to build a store in the park back in 2017 but it quickly sparked public opposition. Locals objected to the idea of building the store in an area of the historic park that is used to host public events and concerts.

The biggest concern however, was the use of public space by a private company. While the commercialization of the public space for the development of a private company in the park had been approved before for restaurants and coffee shops, protesters argued that Apple’s arrangement would surrender the public space for retail purposes.

The city would have to rezone areas of the park for retail, which would essentially be a transfer of land from the public to a private sector.

Cha già José/ Flickr / Archpaper

“When I heard about it, I thought it must be impossible. Stockholmers won’t let them build a big store in Kungsträdgården. City parks are a little bit holy in Stockholm. You can’t privatise a park,” said Göran Folin, member of green pressure group Alterativ Stad, to The Guardian.

City leaders were quick to point out that it was the location that ignited the process of halting the construction of the store, and not the company setting shop in the city, as Apple currently has three stores in Sweden.

“It is welcome that Apple wants to establish itself in the city,” said Christian Democrat group leader Erik Slottner, at the press conference after the election. “But Kungsträdgården is the wrong place.”

Apple has yet to comment on the city council’s decision to block the store, but it must be noted that the company still owns the rights to construct in the plot of land that surrounds Kungsträdgården.

Recently, the proposed store in Melbourne, Australia suffered a similar fate. Public backlash forced the company to abandon their original design because it did not compliment the surrounding buildings around Federation Square. With the help of city officials and the Citizen’s for Melbourne group, Apple is attempting to overhaul their design to address the problem. It is plausible that Apple may look for a similar compromise by seeking feedback from city council and the people of Stockholm.

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