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Nairobi traffic jam hurdle sparks rise in mixed-use property

A traffic jam on University Way in Nairobi. file photo | nmg
A traffic jam on University Way in Nairobi. file photo | nmg 

Nairobi’s traffic problem is encouraging the growth of mixed use developments as more residents look to avoid the lengthy daily work commute, a new report by real estate consultants Knight Frank says.

A number of property developers are moving away from building stand-alone malls or housing estates and instead putting up mixed use developments which incorporate offices, residential areas and other key facilities such as schools, dispensaries and recreation parks.

“Nairobi, like many regional hubs in emerging markets, has a rapidly expanding population and the city’s infrastructure struggles to keep pace. One challenge that this creates is traffic, which means a large amount of time is spent in the numerous tailbacks that occur in and around the city,” said Knight Frank Kenya managing director Ben Woodhams.

“As a result, the concept of live-work-play mixed use developments is rapidly catching on, with a number of projects offering office, residential and retail elements within one scheme.”

Mall developments such as Garden City and Two Rivers have incorporated a residential component in addition to the retail space they offer. Other upcoming projects such as the Pinnacle and Montave in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area are also mixing offices, residential apartments and hotel space.

“Nairobi and Dubai are among cities emulating mature markets such as London, San Francisco, New York and Miami where development of mixed-use projects is relatively advanced,” says Knight Frank.

These developments however mainly target the higher-end of the market with housing units going for tens of millions of shillings.

The incorporation of offices and residential units in the developments is also providing a buffer for mall developers, who have increasingly struggled to fill up all the retail space that has sprung up in the city in recent years.

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