Almost three years after Watermark Business Park was put up for rental, there have been few takers for the office block that boasts a man-made lake.
Farhana Hassanali, the Hass Consult head of development consulting and research, blames the situation on the harsh economic times that hit the real estate sector in 2017 and also on the fact that office spaces take a longer time to get fully occupied due to the nature of commercial tenancies that are typically five years at a minimum.
But now the developer is seeking to appeal to renters and buyers by offering them something new in the office market — an island gazebo made of glass walls and with a view of a water feature. It can be used for private lunches, meetings and business presentations.
The property has a garden on 4.5 acres of land, an over-water pavilion and a restaurant run by Brioche.
The Sh1.5 billion property that was completed in April 2014 is set to house Unilever, General Electric, Finlays, Fly540, Southern Cross, Mode Telecommunications and JCB, amongst others.
“The combination of the water features together with the gardens bring the outdoors closer home. It has proved very popular with tenants looking for that kind of environment as it is different to what is available,” says Ms Hassanali.
The days when luxury meant flaunting a sky- scrapper apartment or swimming pool are long gone. Developers are adding beautiful views to woo discerning buyers and renters.
Just like luxury hotels and resorts, offices now have indoor gardens, water features such as waterfalls or man-made lakes.
Lee Karuri, the chairman of Longonot Gate Development, says the growing middle class, which is the potential buyer, is paying close attention to comfort and style.
More emphasis is on the outdoor design and beauty as is the indoors.
“The taste for landscaping design, which has been generally accepted has changed. Many developers and consumers have resorted to peaceful attractions whether it is a residential or office building or resorts,” he says.
Landscaping has changed with introduction of water features which exude class in commercial and residential spaces, opening up to a quality outdoor living.
Mr Karuri says water features blend well with the natural landscapes, bringing tranquillity with the aspect of relaxation, freshness and retreat.
Leisure homes like Sandalwood Waterfront in Karen, The Lake House Tigoni and Longonot Gate, use rainwater technology to collect enough water for the lakes.
Mr Karuri says water harvesting complements the overall value of the environment. There are several water design features like waterfalls, which spread in a dam and fountains which come out of nozzles, changing the whole atmosphere.
Water is used to enhance projects and is seen as enhancing the overall quality,” he says.
A feature beyond 10 acres is considered a man-made lake, which usually requires enough water for it to remain fresh.
“Longonot Gate has exploited water features in and outside the luxury apartments including fountains and all types of outdoor waterfalls. It has two water features already aligned to provide water for the golf course.”
Depending on the ground conditions, Mr Karuri says the water holds better on loamy soils and rocks which do not absorb water while other require further alignment.
Longonot Gate, which sits on a 2,400-acre prime land at the foot of Mt Longonot, boasts integrated superior gated country homes with modern amenities that include holiday and retirement homes, an 18-hole golf course, sporting facilities, ornamental lake, hotels, theme parks and conference facilities.
The construction of such extraordinary luxury villas has opened up the area, with investors keen on real estate rushing to cash in on its growth besides offering job prospects, among other opportunities, for the locals.