Kat Woolf, principal of Space Online Group, says that Rosebank’s popularity as a business hub is down to its location – midway between Johannesburg and Sandton – and its accessibility. “The Gautrain played a big part in the revival of Rosebank as a business hub,” she says. “As property prices and development in Sandton skyrocketed, we started to see a simultaneous rise in demand for the (then) more affordable Rosebank.”
Woolf adds that the Rosebank Management District has driven a big push over the last decade to clean up the suburb, which has positioned itself as a trendy, pedestrian-friendly city. “Big development in recent years has seen major brands move into the node, including Standard Bank, Coca-Cola, BP and SAPPI,” she says. “Significant development in the last 10 years has seen the face of the suburb change from predominantly B and C-Grade office buildings, to a significant P-Grade (premium grade) office offering.”
Development of office space in the suburb has grown 30% in the last 10 years and today Rosebank achieves some of the highest rental prices in Johannesburg.
The suburb has also birthed a number of start-ups, small businesses and tech companies, which Woolf attributes to a culture of entrepreneurship. One example is Beyond Wireless, which offers remote temperature monitoring solutions with applications in global health, agriculture and food retail. The company’s ColdCloud™ system is used by numerous NGOs, Ministries of Health, and large and small businesses alike in over 50 countries, with partners and clients including South African National Blood Service, Famous Brands, Dis-Chem, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Rosebank has also become well known as a hub for arts- and design-based businesses, and is home to the South African head offices of two petrochemical giants – Total and BP. It has housed many media organisations and brands over the years, from what was Times Media (now Tiso Blackstar) to Mail & Guardian, and while many of these have relocated in recent years, Kaya FM remains.
“Development of office space in the city has grown 30% in the last 10 years and today Rosebank achieves some of the highest rental prices in Johannesburg,” says Woolf. “We Work has just launched their South African flagship in Redefine’s flagship building, The Link (opposite the Gautrain), which is following an interesting trend to provide corporates with a co-working, flexible and serviced office options.”
Property developers are catering to the demand for office space, with developments like Growthpoint’s 144 Oxford Road – a nine-storey, 35,000m² office development that has been designed with two office towers and a centralised office core. It includes an impressive multi-volume atrium and sits conveniently close to the Gautrain station.
The Rosebank Fire Station, which is one of the oldest buildings in Rosebank, has also been redeveloped into offices, while maintaining the original heritage building.
Aside from the location, Woolf says there are many other benefits for businesses in Rosebank. “Rosebank is creating more of a way-of-life culture than an old school corporate culture,” she says. “There’s a pedestrian culture and the city is relatively small with good accessibility. There are great amenities – especially around the Rosebank Mall node, which has seen several shopping centres and commercial offices all interlinked (and upgraded) to provide easy pedestrian experience. There’s also evidence of the mixed-use trend – retail, office and residential in the same building.”
Oxford Parks is a prime example of this. The mammoth 300 000m2 precinct will offer somewhere around 200 000m2 of office space and commercial rentals and 100 000m2 of residential development.
Woolf says that along with big brands moving into Rosebank, there’s been a corresponding rise in the suburb’s residential offering with numerous high-density, lock-up-and-go living options coming online in the last five years, adding to the ‘live, work, play’ culture of Rosebank.
“Rosebank is arguably one of Johannesburg’s tourism hubs, and the home of Johannesburg’s City Sightseeing Red Bus,” she says. “In a tough economic climate, Rosebank has continued to grow, with most of its high-end, premium grade office space fully let.”