Politics and policy

Investors cash in on Mombasa land rush as property prices soar

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Some of the houses coming up in Utange. The cost of land and residential property in Mombasa’s prime areas have nearly doubled in the past three years. Gideon Maundu.

Some of the houses coming up in Utange. The cost of land and residential property in Mombasa’s prime areas have nearly doubled in the past three years. Gideon Maundu. 

By GITHUA KIHARA AND GITONGA MARETE

Posted  Thursday, August 25  2011 at  17:46
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For many years, Utange was a sprawling refugee camp. But the tents and shacks that stood here are now long gone— replaced by new elegant buildings as developers scramble to get in on the action.

Prime land in Mombasa is up for grabs as a property boom like the one witnessed in the 1970s continues to push up home prices in the coastal town.

The cost of land and residential property in prime sections of Mombasa has nearly doubled in the past three years.

In the upmarket Nyali suburb, the value of land has hit the roof in the past two years with half an acre going for Sh30 million compared to Sh15 million less than three years ago.

Rents for three-bedroom houses range between Sh60,000 and Sh90,000, locking out many prospective tenants who consider the prices too high for an area that does not have sufficient water and sewage system. High-rise buildings are replacing stand-alones as old Nyali residents sell their homes to new developers. Others have moved to more spacious areas such Vipingo Ridge where there is also privacy.

Land-sub-division

Vipingo Ridge is about five kilometres from Mtwapa on the way to Kilifi. The investors acquired a piece of land about 2,500 acres that was subdivided into one-acre plots which are selling at between Sh15 million and Sh20 million depending on the location. A good number of buyers have built maisonettes here.

With the exception of Greenwood, Oleander and Coral drives which have maintained their original face, the rest of Nyali has undergone big change.

Apartments are also popular with young professionals, especially from Nairobi and those in the diaspora seeking to own property in the country. The ready flats are convenient since it is difficult for a developer living abroad to supervise construction.

The congestion and the need to accommodate a fast- growing population in Mombasa has opened new markets for real estate developers.

The planned expansion of the port of Mombasa and Dongo Kundu by-pass to start early next year will, for instance, spur development in Changamwe.

The area’s rise as a commercial hub started in 2007 when residential houses started paving way for the Container Freight Stations (CFSs) concept that was adopted to address congestion at the port.  There are now more than 15 licensed CFSs in Changamwe. One requires at least 10 acres to build such a facility. This has increased the value of land in the area, with investors scrambling for a piece of the business.

From what has been going on in Utange, it is clear that the property development bug has bitten this once crime-prone and neglected area.

Market analysts say investors are scrambling for all available space in Mombasa to satisfy growing demand for housing. Utange growth will soon rival Kiembeni estate’s which targets middle income earners working in Mombasa and wishing to acquire homes or rental houses.

“It is the new frontier in property development north of Mombasa which promises stiff competition to established estates,” the chairman of the Kenya Property Developers Association Coast chapter, Mwendwa Thuranira, said.

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