Formerly:   Prome Court
Address:     36 Pyay Road
Year built:   1921-1922
Architect:    Clark & Greig (contractors)

Built in the early 1920s, Prome Court was one of Southeast Asia’s first apartment complexes. One two-storey structure faces Pyay Road. Two other three-storey buildings are on Zagawar and Than Ta Man Streets respectively.

Prome was the British name for the city of Pyay, about 250 kilometres northwest of Yangon. (The long road in Yangon bearing the same name will lead you there.) The growth of the colonial apparatus after the First World War called for greater civil service accommodation and many officials used the 28 spacious flats inside this building. No doubt the occupants found the short distance to the Pegu Club  convenient. In 1937, the Public Works Department moved into the northern and the southern blocks of the complex. By then, the Secretariat was reaching its capacity following Burma’s separation from British India.

Former Prome court is now the June XI Business Centre

After independence, the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs moved into the building. They remained there for several decades. The building stood empty for some years after the government’s move to Naypyidaw in 2005. It received a new, yet controversial, lease of life in 2011 when the government-run Myanmar Investment Commission and a new entity, the “Youth Force Hotel”, signed a 60-year lease agreement. These leaseholders first planned to erect a 14-storey condominium on the site, but local conservationists led a campaign in protest. City authorities then changed zoning regulations to allow for a six-storey building only.

The colonial-era buildings are now renovated and converted into serviced apartments and high-end offices. It is now called the “June XI Business Centre”—a rather uninspiring reference to the month when the lease agreement was signed… The managing director of “Youth Force Hotel” told the media that rents here will be similar to those in Sakura Tower which, as of mid-2014, was the third most expensive office building in the world. And should the zoning regulations ever change, the business centre can easily expand. The press reported that the foundations put in place for the six-storey building are strong enough to bear the load of a building more than twice the height.

Barbed wire and uniformed guards protect the building