Eldoret town last weekend made it to the growing list of towns in Kenya that are competing for the new crop of investors in real estate who are breaking away from the buzz of gated communities to bet on multi-billion resort cities.
The town last Saturday hosted investors at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Sh40 billion leisure and property development plan to be known asÂ Sergoit Golf and Wildlife Resorts, marking the beginning of the construction of East Africaâ€™s first sports city.
Until now, most developers were sinking their money into the gated community housing projects and office blocks. But a year after the launch of the Sh240 billion Tatu City in 2011, several projects have now been lined up, some mirroring Tatu Cityâ€™s concept in what is raising the bar in real estate development.
Development of cities and mega projects themed around luxury, sports and technology is now gaining currency. Other major luxury housing projects at various stages of development include the Sh120 billion Aberdare Hills estate, the Sh85 billion Longonot Gate golf city and Osotua Villas around Naivasha. All the projects are betting big on the rising demand for housing by Kenyaâ€™s emerging upper amd middle classes.
â€œWe are targeting the rising middle class in Kenya,â€ Jason Kapkirwok, a director at Sergoit Golf and Wildlife Resort, said during the ground-breaking ceremony. â€œThe discovery of oil in Turkana is also set to increase demand for quality residential property and we are preparing ourselves when this time comes.â€
Sergoit is the latest in the on-going shift of preferences by real estate developers, who have been pushed out of Nairobi by the high cost of land and other variables, adding a new dimension to Kenyaâ€™s property market growth as the developers move to smaller towns.
Other towns competing with Eldoret for similar projects are Nairobi, Naivasha, Machakos, Kilifi, Malindi, and Mombasa.
Here are some profiles of the projects coming up across the country and their status.
Sh40 billion Sergoit Golf and Wildlife Resorts
The sports city, the latest project to break ground, is hinged on the theme of sports, luxury living, leisure and recreation.
It is the largest single project by the private sector in western Kenya, giving the region its first taste of the eight-year real estate boom that has been mainly concentrated in the capital and Mombasa.
The project will have more than 2,000 villas, three golf courses, a five-star hotel, a shopping mall, a conference centre, a private hospital and a private airstrip. All this will sit on a 3,100-acre piece of land 15 kilometres north east of Eldoret town and will be built in four phases.
The sports city is expected to drive tourism in the western tourist circuit given that it also features a wildlife sanctuary.
Sergoit Holdings Limited, the company behind the project, has set 2016 as the date for completion. Every phase will take a year to finish and will be purely financed by private investors.
â€œOur goal is that this project will be ready to host various teams going to Brazil for the Olympic Games in 2016. It will open this region to both sports and wildlife tourism,â€ Joshua Chepkwony, the chairman of Sergoit Holdings, said last Saturday.
Every phase is expected cost about Sh10 billion and the initial phase involves construction of 626 villas located near the Sergoit Hill, a tree-covered rocky outcrop with about 400 acres dominating the flat landscape.
The project has already received the backing of major financiers, including Co-operative Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank, who have lined up mortgage facilities for interested buyers.
â€œWe have already sold about 81 plots and we expect this to shoot up now that we have officially broken ground,â€ Chepkwony said.
Private developers can buy plots at a price of between two and five million shillings and put up the structures as laid out in the master plan.
Chepkwony, who is also the chairman of Jamii Telecoms, said the project will have high-speed fibre connectivity as part of the infrastructure.
Like Tatu City, the company will put up an independent management company to build and manage physical infrastructure, including roads, power, water, waste, drainage, and fibre-optic connection, among others.
All property within the golf city will be built according to six pre-approved house designs and shareholders will enjoy free membership to the golf club and access to the Club House.
The leisure and golf resort city will feature scenic nature and fitness trails, a view of game and scenery, rock climbing spots, athletic training tracks and a water splash. The game sanctuary will have giraffes, antelopes and birds.
Inventors of the Sergoit real estate development are hoping to tap into the growing middle and upper income households in the region and the millionaire athletes around Eldoret, Kenyaâ€™s fifth largest town and one of the fastest growing, with a population of about a quarter a million.
It is strategically positioned to serve not only Kenya but the neighbouring countries of Uganda and South Sudan as well.
The Rift Valley town, whose economy is hinged on large-scale agriculture, is home to Moi University, Moi Referral Hospital, a KCC milk processor and banks, among other major learning, business and recreation institutions.
An airstrip will be constructed during the second phase alongside an 18-hole golf course, and a golf estate with luxury villas on varying plot sizes which will be offered for sale after construction.
A five-star hotel with modern amenities and services is part of the third phase plan. Retirement homes will be part of the last phase expected to be completed between 2015 and 2016.
The Sh85bn Longonot Gate golf city in Naivasha
Owners of plots are expected to start constructing at the Golf city before the end of this year following its groundbreaking in August.
The housing development, dubbed Longonot Gate, sits on a 2,400-acre serviced-plot project in Naivasha.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, architects of the project said they had completed putting in place basic infrastructure such as security, access roads, and bore holes to allow for the commencement of construction.
The project managers have also graded access roads linking the facility to Mai Mahiu and Moi South Lake roads and constructed a 14-kilometre electric fence around the property expected to be completed in 2015.
The project is also targeting investors to set up commercial services such as a polo field, an office park, spa site, cemetery, school and hospital.
Half an acre of land in phase two of the project costs Sh4 million, up from Sh2 million last year.
Naivasha is about 70 kilometres from Nairobi, making it attractive for those seeking to live in a serene semi-urban environment with ease of access to the capital city.
Longonot Gate is expected to accommodate 1,500 homes, a commercial centre with tourist hotels and shopping outlets, and a golf course. Longonot Gate is a fraction of the expansive Kedong ranch bordering Longonot National Park.
The Sh120bn Aberdare Hills Estate and Osotua Villas
Aberdare Hills Estate and Osotua Villas are the other two major luxury housing projects coming up around Naivasha, an indication of rising demand for housing by the emerging upper class.
The resort cities enjoy access to key tourist attractions such as Hellâ€™s Gate National Park, Lake Naivasha, and Mt Longonot.
Like Longonot Gate, Aberdare Hills has been designed to include an 18-hole golf course, a five-star hotel, and high-end villas.
â€œThe site chosen for the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort is on a high plateau with views over Lake Naivasha. The resort includes the Malewa River on its north-west boundary and dry gorges and ravines. These natural features have been incorporated into the design of the golf course,â€ reads the description of the project on its website.
The site ranges in altitude from 1,920 metres at its lowest point to 2,125 metres at its highest, embracing an extremely varied topography with the Aberdares on the eastern boundary.
The Sh240bn Tatu City
Seen as the turning point in the real estate sector, Tatu City is billed as a model project that will house 62,000 residents and provide extra amenities such as schools, shopping malls, hospitals and playgrounds.
Promoters of the project say the city, which will be constructed near Kenyatta University, will have the capacity to host up to 23,000 visitors every day.
he fate of the project, however, is in the hands of an ongoing court process. Phase 1 comprises 3,000 residential units, 86,000 square metres of commercial office space, 31,000 square metres of retail floor space, public service transport interchanges, health facilities and recreational parks.
The first residential occupants and business tenants are expected to start moving into their apartments and offices and shops in late 2013.
The Konza ICT Park
This is the first government-backed project targeting to make a new city from scratch.
The Konza Technology Park sits on a 5,000-acre parcel of land expected to be the centre of Business Process Outsourcing activity and software development in the region.
When complete, the city is expected to employ a 200,000-strong workforce in the core business activities.
Its development is still at the design stage, with the Ministry of Information marketing it to potential investors internationally. A master developer for the project is yet to be contracted.