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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Apple to open Flagship store on Ste-Catherine

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Being a nerd, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Apple plans to build a massive 9 300 square foot flagship store in the heart of Downtown at 1321 Ste-Catherine. According to AppleInsider, the existing building (currently housing a clothing store) will see its bottom floor raised to reconfigure the space inside and the facade will be replaced with stainless steel (and probably a giant glowing Apple logo).It is easy to pass this off as just a new retail store for a large corporation on a section of the street filled with many others like it but Apple Flagship stores tend to be very different. First of all, this will only be the 10th such store to be built (many of which are in Manhattan) and the first in Canada. These stores also attract huge numbers of people and are wildly popular for a retail store. Apple’s massive 5th Avenue location in New York is becoming a popular tourist attraction in its own right and a store being built in Manhattan’s Meat-Packing District is expected to pump new life into otherwise quiet and “un-hip” section of the city. Furthermore, Apple Stores have a huge effect on the streets on which they are built. Store openings and product launches always create huge lines in front of the store, which sometimes start days before the actual “event”.Due to their often ostentatious design and disregard for historical context, Apple Stores have created a great deal of controversy in other cities and have even been blocked due to complaints from residents and historical organisations. This probably won’t be a hurdle in Montreal as the location they have chosen already looks somewhat like a typical Apple store and isn’t a particular noteworthy building. It is unlikely that this store will have a huge impact on this particular section of Ste-Catherine as it is well known as a high-end retail strip (the building is attached to Ogilvy) and is already very popular with tourists. What such an important store will do however is reinforce Ste-Catherine as an important and thriving retail strip as past Flagship stores have done on other streets around the world such as Manhattan’s 5th Avenue and San Francisco’s Market Street.



  1. Even though Apple is pretty much the height of American consumer culture, I have to say I’m pretty excited to hear that they’re finally coming downtown. Apple stores always create a certain buzz around neighbourhoods, I’m thinking of the SoHo store in NYC or the flagship in San Francisco .. It’ll fit in quite perfectly on Ste-Catherine West. Hopefully it’ll help out the area nearby Concordia, things tend to get shadier the more west you head towards Atwater

    that, and at least it’s not a Microsoft store *shudder*

  2. That’s so awesome… Looking forward to it!

  3. Some New York corrections:
    – Manhattan has two Apple stores at the moment — hardly “many of” the 10
    – The Meatpacking is not an otherwise quiet and unhip area. It probably has more clubs per block than any other part of Manhattan (and certainly any part of Montreal)

  4. I thought there were a couple more stores in New York but, after a trip to the Apple website, I guess there is only the SoHo store and the 5th Ave location. Still, New York is the only city to have more than one Flagship and they will soon be adding the third.

    Concerning the Meatpacking district, I’ve never been to new York so I can’t offer any personal experience so I’m just going by discussion I’ve read about the store in the area. What I had read suggested that it isn’t the best place for an Apple store because it doesn’t receive much foot traffic compared to other parts of the city and isn’t considered much of a tourist attraction compared to the locations of the other two stores. I don’t know though, I’d have to see for myself.

  5. Actually, the MePA is now a HUGE tourist destination. Made famous in Sex and the City episodes of course but it started to transform in 2000. I lived in NYC around this time and it was, the last bastion of old, interesting New York; Meat Packing and the West Chelsea warehouse district having been overtaken by the galleries, cutting edge designer boutiques such as Alexander McQueen and Stella MacCartney. So, I guess, Apple’s massive flagship there is really the ultimate symbol that MePa is no longer hip and egdy but on it’s way to totally gentrified. The Standard Hotel opening and the Highline Park will seal the deal.

    As for the Montreal store… this is excellent news. Unlike Manhattan, Montreal desperately needs gentrification in certain areas. Some parts of downtown look like Chernobyl or Beirut (eg: the block between Crescent and Bishop, between RL and Ste Cath). This opening will only result in much needed development if not the very least, more investor interest in the area. Also, Ste Catherine Street, needs to be streamlined in terms of caliber and quality of stores and boutiques. There are still peep shows and junk clothing shops amist stores like Ogilvy’s, and Zara, and Browns etc…

  6. But the incongruous mix of strip clubs and chain stores is what makes Ste. Catherine so appealing in the first place. The street has had that tension between middle-class propriety and red-light seediness since at least the 1940s. It would be a tragedy if it became a homogeneous white bread street like so many other retail strips in North America.

  7. I doubt that in 10 years there will be peep shows or low-end t-shirt shops left. With new stores coming in this summer/fall, such as H&M, Diesel, and the Apple store, rents will continue to rise, forcing these local stores into peripheral areas, possibly the new developing Griffintown area. The Apple store will help bring people further west towards the new reebok store, and hopefully increase the quality of stores on the block. These stores pay property taxes, so the more valuable the land, the more they pay. We should encourage high-end stores to move in and help gentrify those areas.

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