With the increasing competition in the housing sector, which appears to be among the fastest growing and profitable ventures in the country today, developers keen to remain afloat in the business are devising ways to sell their products faster.
The innovation has gone beyond putting up attractive homes with elegant finishes to assisting potential clients access funding from lending facilities, all in a win-win situation.
Additionally, most developers today appear mindful of their clients’ comfort after purchasing houses, and are now going out of their way to put up amenities such as “shopping complexes” and schools within the estates.
Developers of gated estates with hundreds of units that are not located near any trading centres have taken it upon themselves to bring these basic services near the homeowners.
For instance, Home Bridge, a real estate firm which is putting up 30-acre high-end gated community apartments dubbed Lifestyle Heights along Kiambu-Ruiru Road, mindful of the estate’s occupants’ need for quick accessibility of simple and basic commodities, is putting up a “shopping complex” within the estate.
Lifestyle Heights, which is being constructed in phases, is about five kilometres from the nearest towns – Kiambu and Kahawa West– where without an internal “commercial centre”, occupants would have to drive or commute to buy daily supplies.
During the designing of the estate, which once complete will have 1,200 units, the developer set aside land for construction of a “shopping centre” in form of a mini commercial complex, which will be left to the homeowners in the estate to manage.
LIKE A COMPANY
Lifestyle Heights is among several housing projects coming up in the area which until recently was bare land, sometimes posing a security threat to anyone simply driving through the area.
Mr Karoki, one of the firm’s directors, told DN2 that the commercial centre will largely operate like a company, whereby when a client buys a unit in the estate, they automatically become shareholders of the commercial centre.
Mr Karoki said that homeowners, upon settling in the estate, will select a committee that will manage its affairs.
The “shopping centre” comprises a two-storey mini mall, which according to the design can host a mini retail store, a butchery, grocery, milk bar, barber and salon, among other businesses found in ordinary trading centres.
“The reason we came up with the facility is that we did not want the residents to be driving for kilometres to purchase simple items like breakfast supplies and other groceries, or in search of a salon, a barbershop or even fitness clubs.
With such a facility, one can even do their weekly or monthly shopping within the estate since it can accommodate a retail store,” Mr Karoki said of the estate, which also comes with a clubhouse, gym and swimming pool.
The facility, according to Mr Karoki, can either be leased to interested traders, including outsiders, on terms and conditions to be agreed by the shareholders and the proceeds can be used to manage and maintain the estate.
Optiven Group, which is developing Sh8 billion Amani Ridge, a gated community project also located along Kiambu-Ruiru road, which will have 400 luxury units sitting on 100 acres, is also constructing a commercial centre to serve the occupants.
The project, according to the Group CEO George Wachiuri, will have a mini-mall, a police post, a tenants-only clubhouse sitting on a 1.5 acre parcel of land as well as a running track.
It will also have a sports ground adjacent to a community centre, also sitting on a one -acre parcel for in-house and outdoor events.
At Great Wall Apartments in Mlolongo, off Mombasa Road, the developer, Erdemann, besides putting up close to 1,000 apartments in three phases, also put up among other common amenities, a shopping complex and a primary school to serve the people living in the estate.
Lifestyle Gardens, another gated community estate which comprises four-bedroom maisonettes in Syokimau, other than a club house and children play area, comes with a commercial centre that the developer, Home Bridge, has left to home buyers to run.
Cytonn Real Estate is also developing River Run, a 100-acre project which, according to the master plan, will comprise 600 stand-alone three and four-bedroom units, which will be complemented by social amenities among them a commercial centre and a school.
Perhaps moved by the phase one and two occupants’ plight of having to drive for kilometres to buy their daily supplies, Eden Ville, a gated community estate along Kiambu Road, which has 404 units, has factored a shopping centre into its third phase, which, upon completion, will serve the entire estate.
Mr Shailen Shah, the managing director of Paramount Chief Estate, which is developing the project, said they had set aside two acres which will host a shopping mall, complete with spacious recreational areas, playgrounds, community centres, banks, shops and office space.
Mr John Mwaniki, the director of Jekmass Services, a real estate agency, said although it’s not a requirement for a developer to put up a “shopping complex” in a gated community project, occupants are definitely in need of such amenities and any developer who includes them in their projects is definitely ahead of competition.
“Developers highlight the developments around their projects such as schools and shopping centres because they know occupants want to live in areas where these amenities are available.
If a developer decides to put up a facility that can offer such amenities within the estate, it gives occupants comfort and boosts marketing,” Mr Mwaniki said, but also noted that not all estates can sustain such facilities due to size of the land they have for development.
Ms Joyce Wairimu, a resident of Five Star Estate along Kiambu Road, does not enjoy such facilities. Given another chance, she would consider purchasing a unit in a “self-contained estate”.
“Who wants leave the house at 7am on a weekend to drive kilometres away just to buy milk and bread? Everyone would prefer to walk to a shop within the estate and return home to continue enjoying their weekend,” Ms Wairimu said.