From bank to co-working space: Penang’s 87-year-old Standard Chartered building reopens

Opalyn Mok
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow officiates the grand opening of Spaces Beach Street in George Town November 20, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 20 — The grand colonial-style building here that used to house the Standard Chartered Bank for over 87 years has been converted into a co-working space called Spaces Beach Street.

The building, designed by John McNeill and CG Boutcher of Stark & McNeill architects back in 1926, was completed in 1930.

Standard Chartered Bank sold the four-storey building to Mercury Securities Sdn Bhd in the 1990s and had remained as a tenant in the building until they moved to another premise down the road in 2017.

Mercury Securities managing director Chew Sing Guan said the building is a historical building that fronted Beach Street.

“Its imposing structure, intimidating wooden doors and beautiful architecture provides a fitting place for a co-working space for businesses to meet and work,” he said at the opening of Spaces Beach Street today.

He said the iconic building is one that most Penangites remember as it fronted the beginning of Beach Street and is also a popular site for couples to have their pre-wedding photos taken along the corridors of the building.

The ground floor of the building has remained vacant before International Workplace Group (IWG) took a lease of the space to create Spaces Beach Street.

The upper floors of the building were divided into many offices and were mostly occupied by legal firms.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow checks out Spaces Beach Street in George Town November 20, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who attended the official opening of Spaces, said the first ever co-working space by the state government was launched about four years ago at Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, also in the heritage zone.

He said it was fitting for IWG to open up a co-working space in the heritage zone where Penang started out as a trading port.

He said the co-working space will be a good platform for entrepreneurs and business owners to meet and work with their peers.

“It can be a good platform for the people to connect, communicate and expand the business community here,” he said.

Spaces Beach Street is the second co-working space by IWG in Malaysia.

IWG Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Country Head T. Vijayakumar said Spaces Beach Street will be a cultural and business hub for businesses of all sizes.

“Spaces offers a vibrant atmosphere where free-spirited entrepreneurs and digital nomads can share ideas, build connections and be catalysts for change,” he said.

IWG has a networked of Spaces workspaces in more than 250 locations worldwide.

It set up its first workspace in Malaysia with the opening of Spaces Platinum Sentral in Kuala Lumpur and Spaces Beach Street is its second workspace in Malaysia.