The central business district of Kisumu City is changing fast, with new modern shopping malls and business hubs opening up even as old hotels renovate their premises to keep pace with new hotels. As opposed to real estate developments that have seen investors jostle for suburbs such as Migosi, Kenya Re and, Milimani and Mamboleo estates for rental housing, the new craze is construction of holiday homes, hotels and shopping malls. Until now, the city has had few shopping malls within the central business district, a fact that has forced investors to clutter for the little space.
The new executive malls include West End Mall, Taffoam and Mini Mall. Property dealers say demand for shopping malls is being driven by a growing population of more than 500,000 residents. Ms Raquel Ouma, a housing expert, says investors have noticed the untapped potential of the city. She says the location of Kisumu makes it the first preference in western Kenya after Nairobi and Mombasa.
“For along time, the jostle for the country’s property has been concerted in and around Nairobi, where investors argue they stand a better prospect of receiving good returns courtesy of the comparatively higher rents and steep real estate prices,” she says, adding: “Something has to be done to address the current shortfalls in the shortage of reasonable middle class business centres and housing. With the city population expected to increase, things can only get dimmer or rosier if nothing is done,” says Ouma.
She says the establishment of business centres is a key factor in economic growth regarding the city, noting that developers must agree that putting up apartments in the outskirts of the city or close major roads would be more ideal as city centre is left for business only. However, other developers believe that being closer to the city is most appropriate for easy accessibility. As a result, numerous developments are coming up near the town centre all aiming to cash in on the new business centres booming in the region.
The security of the area, shopping malls, good roads and proximity to schools and other services such as hospitals has to be factored in a factor she is quick to note plays key role in business progress. Mr Kennedy Lang’at a businessman and real estate dealer, investors in the real estate to first consider the likely opinion of the target customers. “They should first take into consideration the price of the homes and the perception by the targeted customers,” he adds. Most of the upcoming investors have fallen prey to unscrupulous argents that have manage to con them large sums of money in the name of selling those premises.
As such lack of clear and stringent laws guarding against such malpractices within the real estate sectors have been blamed for the vice. Kisumu real estate association and other developers have petitioned the Kenya Association of Real Estate Investors to roll out the tough rules to the counties to curb the increasing rate of this undercut dealings in the region.
The shift of attention has seen the lakeside city attract more investors, with Asian architects displaying prowess in architectural arts. The hoteliers too are not left behind as investors put their best foot forward to showcase the best offer in the hotel industry. This is first bearing fruits as more tourists troop to Lake Victoria as the region.