Featured in Phnom Penh Post

Redefining the urban jungle at Yellow Tower
Cocooned in foliage and outfitted as a tech-savvy co-working space, the seven-storey Yellow Tower is the greenest office space in the capital – and one of the most aesthetically unique. Over 2,400 square metres of plant life clings to the building’s facade, forming a lush vertical garden that instills calmness and keeps out the tropical heat.

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Coliving and coworking pop-up

by Cheyenne Chia

Over the years, we have seen co-working spaces sprung up in our Kingdom to help further the sense of community within entrepreneurs and startups in the tech scene. Some examples are TRYBE, a blend between a coworking space and makerspace, EmeraldHub, a diverse space for co-working and events, and ImpactHub, a laidback startup space with various workshops for all.

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Co-Working Spaces in Demand as Alternative to Rising Rent

by Hang Sokunthea - Cambodia Daily

When Duong Kim Hak and his business partner decided to expand their online bookstore to a brick-and-mortar location, the entrepreneurs went for a non-traditional store site that’s growing in popularity abroad and in Phnom Penh: a co-working space.

“It would be at least 30 percent more expensive to rent an individual house to run our business, and we would not make much profits at the end,” he said.

Through their bookstore at workspace Emerald Hub, Mr. Kim Hak has joined dozens of entrepreneurs who are warding off Cambodia’s rising rents by sharing office spaces.

When comparing the space, location and other costs associated with parking, security and utilities, Mr. Kim Hak concluded that using a co-working space would allow them to sell books while cutting some of the costs of running a business.

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Outpost pops up at the Green Penthouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

by Blau Journal

Get your passport ready: Outpost Coworking is delighted to announce it’s first international pop up!

Set in a must-see urban treehouse, Outpost Cambodia at the Green Penthouse delivers a range of contemporary coworking and coliving options along side everything you’ve come to expect from Outpost: great events, fast internet, and a creative, productive space.

Located just across the river from the buzzing culturalfoodie and entrepreneurial hub of Phnom Penh, Outpost Cambodia the perfect spot for your next great venture.

“Our members are adventurous, imaginative professionals. They’re seeking idyllic lifestyles. We saw this opportunity with the Green Penthouse to develop a half-year pop-up in a stunning building within the vibrant, entrepreneurial Phnom Penh community and knew it was a great fit,” said Outpost co-founder Bryan Stewart. “It’s a rare find and a chance for our members to design their best possible work life balance. We love the idea of temporary pop-ups to experiment.”

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Inspiring tech entrepreneurship

Stuart Alan Becker

The arrival of Startup Weekend in Cambodia marked a new beginning for high-tech entrepreneurship as more than 80 people worked on all kinds of new business ideas all weekend at Yellow Tower across the Tonle Sap from The Riverside.

Chief Marketing Officer Joey Pomerenke of Startup Weekend flew out specially from the US to attend all three days and to lead a planning group of regional high-tech participants at the Lazy Beach private hideaway on Koh Rong island off the coast of Sihanoukville and is leaving on Tuesday.

“It is really about bringing the region together. The organisers from Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand can work together,” he said.

Startup Weekend originated in Boulder, Colorado in 2007 as the brainchild of a man named Andrew Hyde. Two friends of Pomerenke, Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen, attended a Startup Weekend in Seattle and found it very inspiring. 

“They saw an opportunity to take this model and turn it into a non-profit and scale it up across the world.” In 2009, Nager and Nelsen paid Hyde more than $100,000 for the Startup Weekend concept and since then have grown it to 86 events in 2010 and 261 events in 2011.

“This year we’re on track to do 550 events,” Pomerenke said. 

Since the status of Startup Weekend is as a non-profit, Nager and Nelsen were able to get a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the largest in the world for entrepreneurship, to fund Startupweekend.org. The first year’s grant disbursement was $250,000.

“This is funded all through corporate sponsorships and foundations. That’s how we pay our staff of 25.”

Pomerenke says the Startup Weekends are experiential education.

“You are learning by doing and you can take these two days over the weekend and have a zero-risk way of validating your idea. In two days you learn a lot, validate your idea with your peers and you have mentors and judges on Sunday night.”

He says a “ton” of real businesses have been founded as a result of Startup Weekends, citing Zaarly as one, a business that organises deliveries.

“Entrepreneurship is the best thing for economies,” …

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A trip to the Yellow Tower on the other side

Following a ride over the Japanese Bridge across the Tonle Sap to “The Other Side”, you take a right turn and head along the peninsula, towards the confluence with the Mekong, the 7-storey Yellow Tower rises up alone, easily visible from the Riverside, an unusual building specially designed as a workplace for technology and development.

As the curved-glass elevator speeds up the front edge of the tower, the view up and down the Tonle Sap and across to the Riverside district swiftly becomes a stunning panorama.

Constructed during the last three years, the building is designed to house creative forms of businesses.

With a total of five architects involved in the design, Yellow Tower is now being completed and ready for tenants in the new year, the sides of the building are being covered in mesh with a “vertical garden” concept.

The architects believe the building offers attractive, specifically designed space for creative work and development.

While the top floor is in use as a residential penthouse apartment, four floors are available for leasing, each with more than 400 square metres of working space, 57 square metre balconies and each with their own “vertical garden” consisting of planting areas with vines that climb up the mesh installed up and down the exterior.

The architects’ design purpose was to create “a sense of an environment inspired by nature” with a buffer between the hot sun and the working space. Each floor has its own dedicated IT room and storage, along with an executive bathroom and shower, plus two other toilets on each floor for ladies and gents.

The building was designed with eight metres between the columns, offering large, unbroken open spaces, each floor with a different style of mezzanine; each floor five metres high.

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Strong current for development

Steve Finch

FROM the top of Yellow Tower, a new seven-storey office space on the Chroy Changvar Peninsula, the views extend 360 degrees into the surrounding provinces on a clear day. To the east the view of the Tonle Bassac is uninterrupted with only a few buildings in the surrounding area rising above two floors. While significant development has transformed the waterfront property across the river in recent years, changes to the capital’s Russey Keo district have been rather modest, but that is changing.

Of the half dozen satellite districts the government has earmarked for completion by 2020, in many ways this slither of land between the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers is the most advanced. 

While Camko City on the northern edge of Phnom Penh is years from completion – none of the commercial space is even under construction as yet, according to real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis – and Grand Phnom Penh is looking at a 2014 launch at the earliest, new properties in Chroy Changvar are coming online at an accelerating pace.

VTrust Apartment III was completed at the end of last year, Yellow Tower is scheduled to open in February and meanwhile construction workers at Mekong Tower could be seen finishing the building’s parking area this week. In just over a year another apartment building, the US$30 million Bellevue Apartments, is also due for completion.

“Chruoy Changvar is developing into one of the most exciting districts of … Phnom Penh,” said CBRE Country Manager Daniel Parkes, who is acting as agent for Yellow Tower and other buildings in the capital.

Although still undeveloped in comparison with the opposite bank of the Tonle Sap, the government has targeted this riverside district for major infrastructure development that would make it increasingly attractive for investors, property developers including Bellevue’s Arakawa told the Post this week.

“We do not have any problem with the infrastructure at all,” said a senior executive at the Japanese developer, declining to be named. “All the basic infrastructures are in place.” 

Work continues on a project to widen National Highway 6 that extends into Kandal province from the Japanese Friendship Bridge, but the main improvement in access will be the new bridge across the Tonle Sap River, announced in September.

Ministry of Land Management spokesman Nomm Pheany said on Tuesday that private infrastructure development built around new projects will in turn transform the district.

“The infrastructure in Sangkat Chroy Changva will be better [than the city centre] because … developers are taking … new technology and materials that are modern to develop that area,” she said by email.

Prices on the peninsula are still low by Phnom Penh standards. Bonna Realty is advertising plots of land in the district starting at about $400 per square metre, or roughly five times less than those in sought-after Boeung Keng Kang I. Similarly, Bonna was selling a gated four-bedroom two-storey villa in Chroy Changva for $350,000 this week. Meanwhile, comparable properties in BBK I rarely priced below $500,000 with sellers often asking for $1 million or more.

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