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Tim Cook says $30M Carnegie Library Apple Store is more than about selling iPhones

An earlier photograph of Carnegie Library before Apple's construction work.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hopes the soon-to-open Apple Store at the Carnegie Library will be more than a retail outlet, one that reportedly cost $30 million to renovate, suggesting the focus is on community and creativity, rather than selling iPhones and other products.

Due to open on May 11, the Carnegie Library in Washington D.C. has undergone a transformation that started in 2016, with Apple renovating the building and preparing it for use as one of its major retail outlets. In an interview, Tim Cook however suggests the new space won't be primarily about sales, stating "Probably one of the least done things in an Apple Store is to buy something."

Rather than sales, people visit the Apple Stores to explore new products and receive training and services for devices they already possess, Cook told the Washington Post. "We should probably come up with a name other than 'Store,' because it's more of a place for the community to use in a much broader way."

The reconstitution of the Carngie Library was the company's "most historic, ambitious restoration by far, in the world," Cook claimed. Signature projects like the library will help the company showcase services via classes and sessions, like Today at Apple, but it will also help connect customers with creativity, an important part of Apple's culture.

"Our roots are in education and creativity, you think about where the company started from and Steve (Jobs) and the team at the time were very focused on providing people tools that allowed them to do incredible things," said Cook. "We've been serving the creative community as a company since the founding of the company, and the truth is everyone should be a part of the creative community, so this is our way to democratize it."

While Apple has not revealed the cost of the Carnegie Library project, with earlier reports suggesting it was paying market rent and between $1 million and $2 million to Events D.C. to cover losses relating to the Apple Store being in the space versus its prior usage, it is estimated that it has cost the iPhone maker in excess of $30 million to renovate.

Preliminary budget details shared with the report indicate $7 million was forecast towards a restoration of the facade, $300,000 towards the stairwells, and $2 million for site work and landscaping. As for the lease of the building, Apple is thought to be spending $700,000 per year over ten years, with earlier reports suggesting it had options to extend the term by five years twice.