Market News

Acorn eyes students with Sh1.9bn hostels in Karen

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A Qwetu hostel in Ruaraka, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Property developer Acorn Holdings is rolling out a 3,591-room hostel on a five-acre plot in Karen, targeting students from Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
  • Environmental impact assessment filings by the firm said the land was acquired from the university. Acorn’s fully owned subsidiary Spruce Properties LLP will implement the Sh1.89 billion project.
  • Acorn, known for their purpose-built students hostel brands Qwetu and Qejani, said the Karen project would be built within the next two years, comprising nine residential blocks facing Bogani road with three other blocks set for development fronting CUEA main campus.

Property developer Acorn Holdings is rolling out a 3,591-room hostel on a five-acre plot in Karen, targeting students from Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

Environmental impact assessment filings by the firm said the land was acquired from the university. Acorn’s fully owned subsidiary Spruce Properties LLP will implement the Sh1.89 billion project.

“The parcel of land was acquired from CUEA with he sole understanding that it be developed into students hostels as the university had previously intended,” said Spruce in the Nema filings.

“The proposal is to develop the property into two residential brands, namely Qwetu and Qejani incorporating amenities blocks and a retail block, which will serve the students within the property.”

Acorn, known for their purpose-built students hostel brands Qwetu and Qejani, said the Karen project would be built within the next two years, comprising nine residential blocks facing Bogani road with three other blocks set for development fronting CUEA main campus.

The firm charges between Sh15,000 and Sh16,500 for a room on the premium Qwetu brand, and between Sh7,500 to Sh12,500 under the Qejani brand.

The collaboration between the university and the private property developer is a pointer to a possible solution for institutions of higher learning that face perennial student accommodation problems but lack the finances to put up hostels on their sizeable parcels of idle land.

The Karen project is targeting a slice of the more than 19,000 students in the area, drawn from CUEA (5,158), Kenya School of Law (605) Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Karen (5,000),Multimedia University (4,632), Co-operative University (3,724), Tangaza University College (501) and Marist University’s 255 students.

Acorn has been putting up the bespoke student facilities around Nairobi, targeting the ready, underserved student housing market.

It has four completed projects under the Qwetu brand in Ruaraka, Parklands, Jogoo Road and Madaraka, with a combined capacity of 1,570 rooms.

The newest is the 512-room Madaraka property known as Qwetu Wilson view, which mainly targets students from Strathmore University.

Upcoming projects include the Sh810 million Nairobi West Qwetu hostels project targeting Strathmore University, and the Sh880 million Qwetu 3 and Sh740 million Qwetu 4 United States International University Africa (USIU-Africa) set for completion by May 2021.

Qwetu Hurligham Phase 1 costing Sh990 million should also be completed by May 2021 while the Sh970 million Qwetu Chiromo phase 1 will be completed by January 2022.

The students hostels developer earlier this year raised Sh4.26 billion by floating a green bond listed on the Nairobi and London securities exchanges with plans afoot on floating bids for the remaining Sh738 million unsubscribed notes later in the year.