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Urban Ocean’s ‘National Bank House’ and the historic ‘CornerHouse’ – great rental opportunities and a world-class model for inner city rejuvenation

Posted On Thursday, 10 August 2017 12:49 Published by
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Taking up most of the city block at the corners of Market, Simmons and Commissioner Streets in the old city of Johannesburg.

The CornerHouse and National Bank House may look like one building from the outside, but are in fact two separate buildings – the first were constructed in 1903 as the Head Offices of Anglo American. Both buildings feature an extensive network of high-security safe rooms where actual gold and precious metals were stored in earlier days. All the redeveloped offices in the CornerHouse are currently let, with only two floors remaining to be developed. Although Urban Ocean prescribes the look and feel as well as the finishing schedule of the permanent fixtures, these two floors of 725m2 each, can be let to a bigger tenant, or subdivided into smaller suites.

There is also opportunity to take up exciting space in the adjoining National Bank House - including a theatrical 1500m2 banking hall previously occupied by FNB with a maze of secure walk-in vaults of a further 1200m2 on basement level. The first floor of 810m2 is begging for a visionary tenant to be redeveloped by Urban Ocean to the tenant's specification. This floor can be subdivided into three smaller office units on request and Urban Ocean offers in house interior design and project management services.

At the time of being built, the third and final version of CornerHouse, was the highest building in Johannesburg. 

Urban Ocean Property Developers acquired the properties in the early 2000’s, and insisted that just putting in ‘any tenant’ is not part of their vision. Their goal remains bringing back the precious old city of Johannesburg not only its former glory, but also on par or better than rejuvenations of other world class inner cities around the globe. “Our first step was to develop two very luxurious living spaces in the buildings – the first by Stefan Antoni in The CornerHouse (which was awarded “Best Apartment in South Africa” in 2008), and the next was the Apprentice Apartment by LIFE design (which received the coveted 5 star award in the category of “World’s Best Apartment for 2011” at the International Property Awards”), says Herman Schoeman, Urban Ocean’s CEO. “Inner cities around the globe are unique in that it is almost like a huge shopping mall – you can literally walk everywhere in the Financial District without using a car, so whereas many talk about LIVE, WORK and PLAY developments, the city really offers that lifestyle, and much more!”


“And our monthly rentals are much more attractive than any other comparable spaces in and around Sandton, whilst our finishes and fit-outs are of higher quality”, says Schoeman. “We are also willing to work with entrepreneurial young tenants to make their business successful, whether it is for coffee shops, rooftop restaurants or bars, new clothing designer labels, or art galleries”.

When entering the CornerHouse via the remodeled lobby, one would be forgiven to think one is entering a six star hotel! Urban Ocean provides medium sized ‘sexy’ businesses with luxury office suites with top notch finishes, catering for companies with a sense of style and adventure. “One HAS to enjoy coming into the office every day”, says Schoeman, “so world-class heritage design and quality finishes are important”.

Urban Ocean meticulously selects and approves prospective tenants that share their passion and vision for heritage and world-class inner city rejuvenation.

The developer will carry all the costs of renovation based on a long term lease and will do a customized layout according to the tenant's requirements.

Also at The CornerHouse, Urban Ocean caters for entrepreneurs through its state of the art co-working space called “Urban Collective”. With air conditioning, built in sound, projectors, 50mBps free wi-fi, a twelve seater boardroom, a dedicated hostess, coffee shop and impeccable design, this is the ultimate start-up or entrepreneurial environment. Not to mention the convenience of great coffee and croissants on your doorstep and the privilege of networking with likeminded individuals. To top it all off, the contracts are available on a month to month basis, eliminating all risk for budding entrepreneurs. 

On weekends CornerHouse hosts live music on its rooftop twice a month. The building is also a popular venue for corporate events, weddings and film shoots.

The adjoining National Bank House was completed a couple of years after CornerHouse around 1907, hence the similar exterior and many people confusing the property with CornerHouse. Urban Ocean has recently reinvested into this pristine building after some of the prior renovations have dated somewhat. This includes remodeling of The Apprentice Apartment, an upgrade of the lift interiors and also the lobbies. Recent high profile tenants that have moved in include Wethinkcode_ with 1600m2 and ETN with 800m2 of office space. Their state of the art offices have set a new standard of excellence for National Bank House. 

Similarly to CornerHouse, National Bank House is a hotspot for film and advertising shoots, while The Apprentice Apartment is one of the best kept secrets in town for cocktail parties, dinner parties and corporate events. 

With a Gautrain bus station right opposite this exciting office complex, many of the tenants' staff prefer the hassle-free option of the Gautrain.
Other amenities include easy access to City Central Food Hall just one block's walk away, with a variety of food options to cater for office workers in the city. 

While CornerHouse and National Bank House caters for medium sized enterprises, Urban Ocean has the capacity to accommodate tenants with a size requirement of up to 16 000m2 at rates much more attractive than elsewhere in Gauteng. Other notable developments include a Home Choice retail development, designer student accommodation and soon to be launched studio apartments that will be available for lease.

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Last modified on Friday, 11 August 2017 16:49
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