Apple offered millions for a WWII German bunker but city officials said no

apple store stuttgart marktplatz concept 8
Apple Stores are iconic for their clean artistry. And in some major metros, they’re are also restorative. In New York, the Cupertino, California-based company refurbished the upper hallway of Grand Central Station, a Beaux-Arts Post Office, and the former U.S. Mortgage and Trust building for its growing collection of retail outlets. In Paris, the company repurposed the Apple Store Opera building’s original bank vault as the accessories and software section. Its newest Madrid, Spain, location occupies the Hotel Paris building, perhaps known best by the Tío Pepe advertisement that adorns the roof. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that a former wartime bunker in the German city of Stuttgart was next in Apple’s retail cards. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The site in question, a collection of World War II-era bunkers under the Stuttgarter Market Square, was prime real estate. According to German tech site ifun.de, Apple settled on the location after scouting several near the city center. The bunker’s been empty since an occupying hotel closed its doors in 1985 and efforts to revitalize it since have floundered. An architectural competition in 1995 produced a design that envisioned a 31-meter long and 14-meter high all-glass enclosure but the project never materialized.

Apple, eager to seal the deal, reportedly made a significant offer for the building. But Stuttgart city officials objected, citing a 10-year commitment to maintaining the bunker’s historic design. They explicitly rejected an Apple logo facing opposite the Stuttgart City Hall.

The proposed Apple Store would’ve been the closest Apple Store within 12 miles of the next brick-and-mortar location, in Sindelfingen, Germany. The company’s design would have featured a glass entrance similar to the Apple Store on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

It’s far from the first challenge to retail expansion that Apple’s faced. Company workers discovered the ruins of the 15th century Buen Suceso Hospital while renovating a building for a new Apple Store in Spain. The city’s heritage department allowed construction to resume on the condition that Apple includes an outline of the underlying walls in the basement floor’s design.

Apple’s retail operation is among the largest of its kind. After opening its first retail store in 2001, there are now 488 Apple Stores in 20 countries.

Its latest project includes a rumored South Korea location, which would be the country’s first. In the U.S., Apple is considering an extensive refurbishment of the historic Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., in the open-air style of its Union Square location in San Francisco. It recently renovated stores in Virginia, California, Arizona, and England with public Wi-Fi, event spaces, outdoor plazas, large glass doors, sequoia wood shelves, indoor trees, and other improvements.

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