Ten years ago, the six-storey Zonic Hotel and Uhuru Plaza building, stood out as the tallest buildings in Kisii.
But in the recent past, newer modern buildings have emerged to dominate the town’s skyline.
Along the Kisii-Kisumu highway, the 10-storey Umoja Elimu Complex is now the tallest.
In the heart of the town’s CBD, a number of concrete structures finished with shiny ceramic tiles have come up.
And these developments are not just taking place within the town centre. On the outskirts and in nearby estates, developers are putting up dozens of impressive residential flats.
Before 2010, the town’s most visible estate, Nyanchwa, had units built by the National Housing Corporation. Today, the estate has become an upmarket centre and has attracted hordes of middle-class citizens.
The town’s Mwembe Estate has also undergone a transformation, and has evolved from the shanty it was five years to a middle-class residential area.
Some people attribute these developments to the tranquility and the resolve of the local people to develop their home town.
The county remained largely peaceful amid the violence that followed the 2007 elections.
A number of businesses are said to have relocated from Kisumu County to the town.
Another factor is the rise of Kisii County as an economic power house in Nyanza.
According to the office of the County Governor, Mr James Ongwae, the county now controls 60 per cent of the former Nyanza Province’s economy.
Today, the hosts dozens of administrative offices.
The County’s economy is also fed by Narok, Migori, Nyamira and Bomet counties as it rises.
The Kisii County Executive Member in charge of urban planning, Mr Moses Onderi, says they have been encouraging developers to make maximum use of the little land available.
“We are encouraging residents to put up storey buildings to capitalise on space in Kisii town as the town does not have much land,” Mr Onderi said.
However, he added that developers must abide by building laws and put up decent houses, which must be approved by the county’s urban planning committee.
Mr Onderi said any plans for a proposed building must be designed by a recognised and approved architect and submitted to the county’s development committee for approval before construction begins.
“Building laws must be observed. There are a few rogue individuals but we make sure every project related to urban development abides by the law,” he said, adding that the county authorities would not hesitate to bring down any structure that poses a danger to the residents.
He said the local people also turned the aftermath of the post-election violence into business opportunities.
“All the people who were kicked out towns like Kericho, Kisumu, Migori and Eldoret came here to invest and do business and they are doing well,” he explained.
“Come devolution, the business environment grew, bringing with it the demand for residential houses and business premises, he said.
Devolution also helped as it opened up opportunities and brought resources nearer home.
Mr Onderi noted that in Kisii town, 90 per cent of all developments have been put up by individuals, the majority of whom come from the local community.