Ensuring the long term viability and competitiveness of commercial property in the Sandton office market has seen the recent revamp of two prominent office buildings owned by Sanlam Life Insurance and asset managed by Vukile Property Fund. These are Norwich Place (previously called 66 Grayston) and The Forum office complex, both of which are managed by JHI Properties, a member of the Excellerate Property Services group of companies. Carried out at a total capital investment of approximately R118 million, the projects were completed by JHI Project Management.
Comments Beukes van Heerden, project manager for JHI Project Management, who was involved in the upgrades: “In today’s competitive trading environment, Sandton remains a prime hub highly sought after among corporate and tenants who seek a prestigious address in this convenient, central location. However, with an increase of highly appealing P-Grade and A-Grade stock on the market in the area, enhancing and protecting rental income over the medium to long term for improved return on investment is a priority among property owners, particularly in regard to existing B-Grade and A-Grade buildings, in order to realign them with market conditions and expectations.
“This was the main objective for the extension and upgrade of Norwich Place, situated in Norwich Close in Sandown, Sandton, which enjoys direct exposure onto busy Grayston Drive. The existing development consisted of two separate office buildings, a shared parking garage and open parking on a site of 14 075sqm. There were 421 parking bays providing a ratio of 3.1 bays per 100sqm GLA (gross lettable area), which was too low given the demand in the area for a minimum of four bays per 100sqm GLA,” he says.
The project provided a new parking deck structure, a modern façade treatment for the existing buildings, upgraded central entrance and lift lobby with additional lift and multi-volume glass enclosure and closing up of the atriums in the building in order to increase and create more user-friendly lease space. In total the offices were extended by an additional 1 417sqm and 283 further parking bays provided. An improved air conditioning system was also installed and electrical system upgraded. The capital outlay of the entire project was R98.2 million.
Van Heerden says a key focus was not only to improve the parking ratio but also allow for easier access to and egress from the parking decks, while the internal traffic flow was also greatly improved. Entry and exit lanes were also doubled. He says the new facades achieved an economical but bolder and more contemporary look while the new lobby created a central area with easier access for tenants and visitors.
“In Sandton, gross office rentals up to R190 per square metre are currently being achieved in newer developments. The rentals required to justify this project are much lower at R155 per square metre. Coupled with this, Norwich Place now offers 4.5 bays per 100sqm GLA which is higher than most of the buildings in the vicinity and at a rental rate below the norm, making this a highly effective and marketable property for this area.
“In addition, the upgrade to electrical and mechanical systems will result in lower energy and maintenance costs over the long term, thereby ensuring the property’s competitive edge in the marketplace. The redesigned facades and materials substantially enhance the management of heat loads in the building to achieve a more efficient air conditioning system saving on consumption over time, while new low-energy consumption electrical components contribute positively to the overall efficiency of the building. The second office block in Norwich Place also received a complete revamp of all common areas to replace outdated previous installations and create a modern, light feel,” says van Heerden.
Upgrade of The Forum
With an upgrade completed at a capital investment of approximately R20 million The Forum office complex is well positioned in Sandton adjacent to Nelson Mandela Square, close to the intersection of Maude Street and 5th Avenue and about 300m from Sandton City Mall.
Comments van Heerden: “The Forum common areas had long been in need of an extensive revamp to enable the building to successfully compete with other office complexes that have since been developed in the catchment area. The scope of work carried out includes upgrading of the main entrance at the reception area, revamp of all lobby areas including floors, ceilings and lights, complete revamp of all bathrooms, painting of the external façade of the building and a new security system. There has also been a major improvement in the electrical system, including the implementation of green energy saving measures wherever possible.”
He adds: “As a result the building portrays a more contemporary, revitalised appeal which will take it forward into the future.”