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Society & Success

Craze of homes within malls

The apartments, living area, amphitheatre and playgrounds at the Garden City Mall in Nairobi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
The apartments, living area, amphitheatre and playgrounds at the Garden City Mall in Nairobi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

While mixed-use properties are not new in Kenya, the concept is appealing to more home buyers who want to live, work and play in one location.

Garden City Village is one such development with townhouses and apartments located near a shopping mall and has a children’s fun fair playground, an open-air amphitheatre and office blocks.

The take-up of the homes may have slowed down due to the upcoming August 8 elections, but one buyer has already purchased 22 units of the two-bedroom apartments going for Sh21 million.

A majority of the buyers are purchasing the units for investment and plan to rent them out.

The ‘village’ also has 60 square metres of office space, a business hotel and a state-of-the-art medical centre.

Companies are increasingly moving offices to edge-of-central business district (CBD) locations, a trend that has created new office hubs, with homes and shops following suit, says real estate firm Knight Frank in a Global Cities 2017 Report.

Traditionally, one high-rise building would have a mix of retail space on the lower floors, office space on the upper floors, and occasionally, some penthouse on the top-most floor.

However, what we are seeing today are properly integrated developments, which are delivering commercial, residential and retail space.

Not everyone wants to live in an enclosed setup; where they work and play within the same locality. And as building space shrinks in the city, of concern to many parents is the lack of playing areas for their children.

Entertainment spots

To cater for these homebuyers, developments like Garden City Village have set up a central park that sits on three acres and generous gardens which gives you a lush green escape from the urban hustle but with entertainment spots at the mall, only footsteps away.

The ‘village’ boasts of having the first game store in Kenya (which is part of the Walmart Group) as well as MAC Cosmetics and Mambo Italia, with all shops and 16 eateries arranged around light and airy terraces overlooking the park. The gardens have water fountains and installation by local artist Peterson Kamwathi.

But why is the live, work and play concept appealing to more developers? Mumo Kianga, a development manager at Garden City Mall says developers are looking at offering the buyers and renters convenience.

He says that because Nairobi has become very congested, travelling from one corner of the city to another takes a lot of time and therefore mixed-use development ensure someone doe not have to leave the estate.

“In this day and age, time is money. The more time you spend commuting in your car and travelling to run errands like grocery shopping, the less time you have to enjoy your hard earned money,” he says.

Contrary to popular belief that not many people want to live in an enclaved setup where they would work and play within the same locality, the uptake of the concept has been good, according to Mr Kianga.

For instance, he says that since the mall opened its doors in 2015, they have been receiving over 400,000 customers a month and tenant occupancy has risen up to 90 per cent.

Furthermore, they sold 76 units of the first phase of the apartments in the first six months of construction and the villas have hit up to 60 per cent occupancy.

“Garden City has attracted many people. We have young professionals, expatriates and investors who do not only want to live and work in this area, but are also looking at this as a business opportunity.”

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