City Objects to Plans For Larger Store

June 19, 2011

After objections from a Miami Beach (Fla.) planning board, Apple has withdrawn its proposal to demolish a building near its existing Lincoln Road retail store and build a new structure that would house a larger Apple store and a neighboring Gap clothing store. The plan is part of an on-going project to enlarge older Apple stores and to build larger new stores. In this case, the existing Lincoln Road store would move about 1,000 feet west from its current 30-foot wide space to 1001 Lincoln Road, a conspicuous space along the trendy, upscale and very historic pedestrian shopping street. But the city’s Historic Preservation Board (HPB) has objected to the massive stone walls of the corner building, which would resemble Apple’s Upper West Side (NYC) store. The HPB wants the final design to better match the existing historic architecture of the district, which is listed in the National Register of Architectural Districts, and for the walls to be less massive.

In Apple’s original proposal, it would demolish the existing 19,238 square-foot building now occupied by Gap Baby. Apple would then occupy 18,000 square-feet on a single level looking out onto Lincoln Road and Michigan Avenue and the Gap store would occupy about 17,000 square-feet over three levels facing Lincoln Road. The Apple store would have Tennessee limestone walls on two sides, a 25-foot tall glass storefront and an arched glass roof. It was the two stone walls that drew the most criticism from the HPB. In a staff report to Apple, the board said the side wall is “not conducive to an active pedestrian street,” and the rear wall “should be modified in order to create a…more active presence.”

In response to the board’s criticisms, Apple proposed a wide and narrow display window set into the rear wall. But after consulting with its architects, Apple said the board’s proposal for more windows in the side wall weren’t architecturally possible. That response triggered another round of remarks, with the board  saying if the side wall truly couldn’t be changed, “the design of the corner should be reconsidered in another manner to further enhance its compatibility within the built design context of Lincoln Road.”

Despite its criticism, the board was optimistic that , “Apple can overcome any challenges encountered” while meeting the board’s objections. “Thirty years from now the Apple and Gap stores on Lincoln Road will be recognized by the Miami Beach preservation and design community as mightily ‘contributing’ to the special character and quality of Lincoln Road and the Flamingo Park Local Historic District.”

Apple may not have been as optimistic—in response to the city’s continuing objections, Apple withdrew its proposal just before it was to be considered at the June 14th HPB meeting. Presumably Apple is now preparing further refinements of the original design that will overcome the board’s objections.

The current store opened in July 2006 in a 30-foot wide space that has a unique storefront and an all-white theme, inside and outside.

Download (pdf) the collection of HPB agendas, meeting reports and the two HPB staff reports that detail the building’s history and the board’s objections.

This rendering shows the proposed architecture for the store that would replace the existing retail store not far away.

The Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board objected to a “massive” side wall for the proposed store, which corresponds to the same wall (left) show here at the Upper West Side (NYC) store. The HPB asked Apple to reduce the wall width and have more windows on the side. However, Apple said more windows was not possible because of engineering issues. The HPB also objects to a rear stone wall that has no windows or other openings.

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