Life & Work

Westlands remains the most sought-after office location


An aerial view of Westlands area with its high-rise buildings and apartments. FILE PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Nairobi’s office occupancy rose slightly amid an economic recovery in the second half of last year following the completion of commercial spaces and a growing culture of co-working in a post-pandemic era, a new report shows.

Knight Frank’s report shows the growth in occupancy to 74 percent from 72.8 percent in the first half of 2022 was on the back of a recovering economy where government and corporates sought prime grade A spaces compliant with environment social and governance (ESG) guidelines.

“Occupancy rates in grade A offices averages circa 74 percent, a marginal rise compared to 72.8 percent in H1, 2022,” the report read.

“Westlands remains the most sought-after office location… because it has the largest share of grade A commercial office space compared to other competing nodes such as Upper Hill, Kilimani, and Mombasa Road.”

The government has been on the hunt for prime offices in some posh Nairobi neighbourhoods for its workers and top officials, including Cabinet Secretaries.

The State Department for Housing and Urban Development had invited property owners in some of Nairobi’s upmarket commercial and leafy districts to offer spacious and air-conditioned buildings for leasing.

Among the places listed were Westlands, the CBD, Community or Upper Hill, Hurlingham, Kilimani, and Milimani.

The report showed the continued depreciation of the Kenyan shilling, driven partly by the increased demand for the US dollar, and increased landlords’ preference for rent payments in the greenback.

The report highlighted the average monthly rent steadied at Sh149.4 (USD1.20) per square foot, which was the same in the first half of the year.

Accessibility problems and concerns about the quality of available office space had precipitated an exodus to the financial hubs of Upper Hill and Westlands, leaving CBD landlords with unoccupied office space.

“The CBD stagnation of rent because of congestion has resulted in people opting to go to satellite towns and suburbs like the Westlands and Upper Hill,” said Stephen Katei, the CEO of Regent Management.

The government’s failed attempts at decongesting the CBD has necessitated modern and green building which use less energy to attract people who are looking for ample space.

Some companies have left the CBD, relocating to newly accessible suburban neighbourhoods leaving the city to informal workers and small businesses.

KCB, Britam and UAP among other companies top the list of firms that left the CBD to put up huge office blocks in Upper Hill.

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