Kisumu housing estates moving further from CBD

By DALTON NYABUNDI (Updated November 14th, 2013) – Nation – Read original article here.

Real estate investments are moving farther away from the central business district of Kisumu as the town’s infrastructure continues to expand.

As the lakeside city moves towards a 24-hour economy, land-user change is phasing out the former town plan, which designated areas close to the busy CBD as peri-urban hinterland.

The rigidity of this old plan left little room for expansion, with high-end residential zones located in areas that would have been used for expansion.

The move to the periphery comes in the wake of a new city plan set for adoption later this year.

According to the acting head of city planning, Ms Everlyne Otieno, the town plan adopted in 1974, which set aside areas like Tom Mboya Estate and Milimani as suburbs, has been overtaken by the town’s expansion.

“Land-user change has since been imminent and we strive to run notices in national newspapers to inform residents of the changes before executing them,” she said.

“We cannot jump Milimani to continue expansion beyond. If there’s growth, it will be in a pattern that conforms to modern trends.”

Master plan

She said a strategic master plan set for adoption later in the year will restore sanity in the property development industry in Kisumu, adding that the use of cross-breed zoning has been prompted by the availability of infrastructure required by businesses.

Meanwhile, investors have moved in to reap from the move to the town’s outskirts.

Among them is Kisumu Real Estates (KRE), which entered the western Kenya market in 2006 and was among the first to take advantage of the city’s expansion to build residential houses.

“The expansion has pushed up land rates within and around the CBD.

This, coupled with population growth, challenged us to find quick solutions.

This also presented an opportunity for the real estate industry in the region to prove itself,” said Mr Wycliffe Abok, the KRE director.

Consequently, KRE and other real estate agencies like Opande Africa Investment, Ounga Commercial Agencies and Kisumu Vista Estates began real estate projects in the Mamboleo and Riat Hills and attracted investors who have transformed the scenic hills into new, affluent suburbs.

The dual carriageway under construction between Nyamasaria and Kisian, with a road linking it to the city at Kondele, is expected to attract further investment in the region.

In addition, plans are underway to revive lake transport, with the county government having signed a Sh400 billion deal with a Canada-based maritime company in relation to the project.

Quality housing

Other residential projects away from the city centre are Milimani West in Kisian and Equator Gardens in Maseno township, both of which are under the KRE.

The Sh1.6 billion Milimani West gated estate project is intended to provide quality residential housing at affordable costs to meet the rising demand for housing by middle-income earners, according to Mr Abok.

Kajulu Gardens, a housing scheme developed by Jadili Properties, and in which Housing Finance pumped Sh65 million, is among the modern developments the lakeside city has attracted.

These developments have also pushed up the cost of land as more and more investors troop in to reap from the boom.

“Half-an-acre is selling at Sh4 million and developers are trooping in to get a piece of land around the airport,” says Mr Christopher Osir, a private developer.

High cost of business

However, the developers have decried the high cost of doing business following moves by county government and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to adjust rates upwards by more than 100 per cent.

The 2013/2017 county finance bill will affect the industry with its 100 per cent increase in most construction work. And Nema has increased the approval fee for projects to 0.1 per cent of total cost, up from 0.05 per cent.

Mr Abok noted that the pace of development has been slowed by con men, who masquerade as landowners and give prospective buyers fake title deeds.