Apple still isn’t talking about its new Seattle store, but it looks almost ready for prime time.
GeekWire first unearthed plans last year for the store in the University Village mall adjacent to Seattle’s only Apple Store, just a few feet away from a Microsoft Store. Though fences surrounded the store and we couldn’t see inside during a visit this week, the exterior and roof look to be done or close to finished.
Apple has yet to acknowledge the store publicly, and declined to comment for this story. Everyone within a mile radius of the location appears to be sworn to secrecy. Apple Store personnel didn’t want to talk about it, and a person in the mall’s management office said they weren’t allowed to talk about it for legal reasons. Susie Plummer, vice president and general manager of the mall, also declined to comment.
No opening date has been set officially, but rumor has it the store could be done by the end of the month. Apple has received approval from the city to drop a company logo on the backside doors, so Apple Store sleuths should expect to see that installed soon.
The design fits with a company-wide refresh of Apple Stores. Gone are the uniform shops with big, bright Apple logos and gray exteriors dropped into contiguous blocks of stores. Apple has, over the last few years, increasingly replaced those locations with standalone stores with unique designs, taller ceilings and more subtle branding.
The most eye-catching features of the new store — at least from the outside — are the wood-clad awning that circles the exterior of the store and the vast array of trees and shrubbery flanking it. The roof provides cover during the rainy months for several outdoor seating areas around the location.
The current store faces west, with the entrance peering out at the Microsoft Store across the way. The new store is much closer to the Microsoft Store, but the building and its entrance are oriented away from its fellow tech giant’s storefront.
While the new store looks to be a lot larger than the current one, it won’t quite rival some of the massive new flagship stores in San Francisco, Chicago and other places. A recent permit document filed with the city shows the store takes up about 14,000 square feet of the 23,000-square-foot site that used to be parking, with about 8,000 square feet of sales area.
Apple opened the University Village location in 2003, approximately two years after the company opened its first brick and mortar locations. In 2011, Apple revamped the store, though it stayed the same size. University Village is one of six Apple Store locations in Washington state. There have been persistent rumors over the years of a potential downtown Seattle store, but so far those plans haven’t materialized publicly.
The open-air mall has in recent years become a hub for tech companies opening brick and mortar stores. It started with Apple, and then Microsoft opened its store in the mall in 2011. In 2015, Amazon made University Village the home of its first physical bookstore.