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Growing middle class ups scramble for Nairobi’s shoppers, diners

By Jackson Okoth | Published Sat, February 14th 2015 at 00:00, Updated February 13th 2015 at 21:36 GMT +3

Nairobi’s shopping landscape is changing drastically with the ongoing construction of several malls and hotels within the city - all scrambling for the attention of the city’s growing middle class.

Notable among these developments is the Thika Road-based Garden City which is set for completion this May.

This will be Kenya’s first integrated residential, retail and office development to be completed on May 28 and officially opened the following month. “We are confident that the scale and quality of this project is something that hasn’t been seen before in East Africa,” said Actis Managing Director Michael Turner.

“We are proud of what we have built so far, and excited to open our doors in May, welcoming everyone to the new Garden City Mall.”

Garden City is put together by sub-Saharan Africa’s private equity real estate investor Actis. The equity fund invests exclusively in the emerging markets with a growing portfolio of investments in Asia, Africa and Latin America and currently has $6.5 billion (Sh592 billion) funds under management.

Apart from Garden City, others competing for attention of shoppers and diners is City Lodge Hotel Group. Through its wholly owned Kenyan subsidiary, Fairview Hotel Ltd, City lodge is putting up a hotel within the upmarket Two Rivers area in Ruaka, Nairobi.

The group, which already owns the Fairview Hotel and the Country Lodge (to be re-branded to Town Lodge) in Nairobi, has acquired the land for the new hotel on a 99-year long-term lease and will design, develop, fund and operate the 170 rooms City Lodge branded hotel. The total cost is expected to be between $23 and$25 million respectively (Sh2.02 billion and Sh2.18 billion).

“We are excited about this new hotel as it signifies the confidence that we have in expanding our presence in Kenya and East Africa to meet the accommodation needs of business and leisure travelers,” said City Lodge Hotel Group Chief Executive Clifford Ross. Construction of the hotel begun in January this year with completion scheduled for July 2016. Also in the pipeline is the Two Rivers Mall  currently under construction. It is scheduled to open in October this year. The Two Rivers Mall when complete will be the largest Mall in Sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa.


Situated in Nairobi’s diplomatic blue zone, the Two Rivers development is the brainchild of Centum - the largest investment company in East Africa that is also listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Spread across 40 hectares (100 acres) of prime land adjacent to the upmarket residential suburbs are Foronda and Rosslyn Estate.  They are being designed to be east Africa’s premier destination to meet, do business, live and shop within a master planned urban lifestyle environment.

The Two Rivers development will, once fully developed, comprise 850,000 square metres of office, residential, retail, hotel and entertainment facilities.

“Centum is proud and excited to welcome the City Lodge Hotel Group to its Two Rivers Development,” said Centum Chief Executive James Mworia. “It is notable that this will be the first City Lodge branded hotel outside Southern Africa, and this marks a great achievement not only for Centum but for Nairobi and Kenya.”

The City Lodge Hotel Group acquired a 50 per cent stake in the Fairview Hotel and the Country Lodge in 2012 and in May this year gained full ownership of the two Nairobi hotels as a springboard for further expansion across the East African region.