Mac Academy plan hits a bum note

Mac Academy plan hits a bum note

The opening of a Mac Academy has been delayed by two months after the man behind the initiative found he was out of tune with local council officials.

Apple Centre Taylor Square director, Ben Morgan, had big renovation plans for the premises, which are located in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst. These included lots of aluminium and a pink paint job. But his bright ideas were shelved when he found out the council had heritage listed the would-be Mac Academy because of connections with the local jazz scene dating back to the 1930s.

“When South Sydney Council and Sydney Council merged [about a year ago] an assessment of the area was undertaken and this particular building was given heritage trust status,” Morgan said. “We didn’t become aware of this until we lodged our standard commercial development and were advised by the council that any alterations would have to be in keeping with its heritage status.”

After coming to terms with the initial shock of having to go back to the drawing board, and the extra 20 per cent that it has added to the bottom line of getting the Mac Academy project up and running, Morgan said he had grown to like the idea that the building had such a colourful history.

“We are taking a 1930s jazz club and turning it into a modern community focal point,” he said. “We won’t be using the history theme in what we do but it will be nice to re-establish the place as somewhere that people come together to be creative.”

The Academy had been scheduled to open on the first day of June but that has now been put back to August 1. However, Morgan said staff would spend the next week or so relocating the Apple Centre Taylor Square repair centre to the second floor of the new Academy premises, which is next door. This would start trading almost as soon as the move was complete.

When it finally opens its doors in a couple of months, the Academy will provide the Mac community with a hi-tech learning and support centre based on Apple’s retail stores. The difference this time around is that the concept has been driven by a channel partner, although Morgan admitted the vendor had made a substantial financial contribution.

As previously reported in ARN, it will boast a 300sqm showroom, a 35-seat cinema with digital projector and THX surround sound, and a technical support desk.

“It will offer customers a friendly and relaxed environment to talk about the issues they are having with our support staff,” Morgan said. “Apple is right behind us because the training and customer service we will be offering is a valuable addition. It is initiatives like this that make sure we have a sustainable business.”

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