Contractor Reveals Store Project’s Complexity

January 9, 2013

Even as Apple has reportedly cancelled its planned MacArthur Chambers (Australia) retail store, a construction company Web site has detailed the US$2.5 million building renovation that involved tight schedules, limited access, and materials that were both delicate and massive. Interior photos of the construction work on the 1849-era building show demolished walls and removed floor slabs, and also added steel columns and remodeled ceilings. The photos and text appeared on the SJ Higgins Group Web site as an example of their past work, along with a description of the complexities of working in a city-center heritage building. The project does not mention Apple Inc., but instead identifies the Precision Group as the client, a local retail investment company that also manages the adjacent shopping center known as MacArthur Central. The project description says, “The project consisted of stripping the existing tenancy fit out back to the original heritage fabric in preparation for the new worldwide retailer to fit out.” The work included gutting four levels covering about 21,000 square-feet, including the removal of escalators and elevators. Old openings were closed up, the company said, and new openings were created. “Lots of existing structural steel and structural components were temporary modified with temporary propping throughout to allow for this change,” the company said. After the heavy construction, the company said it installed new utilities and finished the interior. The Apple store was first spotted in April 2011 when building plans were submitted to city officials. Progress was slow, and then stopped entirely when one major contractor suffered financial problems. Construction restarted within months, but last November sources said Apple had withdrawn from the project. Update: Within 48 of posting this story, the entire SJ Higgins Web site was down for “site maintenance.” The Web site reappeared 48 hours after that, but without the MacArthur Chambers page.

Here’s a screen grab of SJ Higgins Group Web page describing the project.

The construction company had to create new openings in the walls by using heavy machinery. This wall is over 31 inches thick.

This view of the interior shows the size of the proposed store, which is now believed to have been cancelled.

This view seems to have been taken in the latter stages of heavy construction, as the fine detailing is visible.

The finished ceiling of the ground floor shows the detail in the original ceiling. The architecture is reminiscent of other Apple stores located in heritage building in Europe.



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