Safaricom scheme Sh4.3b Machakos mall to open next year

Construction of a Sh4.3 billion shopping mall by the Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme and Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) is halfway done.

The Crystal Rivers project, situated on Mombasa Road, about 1.2 kilomtres past the Athi River Interchange in Machakos County, consists of a shopping mall and a two-phase residential estate.

Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Ogutu said yesterday about 10 per cent of the housing project is complete while the mall is 30 per cent done.

The latter is set to be completed in quarter three of next year while the houses will be completed in 2018. However, the developer expects to have sold all space by next year.

While breaking ground for the project last year, the main contractor - Landmark Holdings - had indicated the mall would be constructed within two-and-a-half years while the residential estate was expected to be completed in five years.

Members of the pension scheme have contributed 60 per cent of the financing while CBA has a 40 per cent equity stake in the development known as Crystal Rivers.

Already, Safaricom Ltd - the sponsor of the scheme - has a blossoming relationship with CBA through M-Shwari, a mobile banking service on the Safaricom network, which allows subscribers to save and borrow using their mobile phones.

The Crystal Rivers project sits on 5.7 acres of land, measuring 200,000 square feet.

The residential estate comprises a total of 398 units,  most of which will be apartments (260), town houses (82) and three-bedroom houses (56).

Town houses will go for Sh14.3 million while the three-bedroom apartments will go for Sh3 million.

Naivas Supermarket will be the anchor tenant in the real-estate project, having offered the developers a better deal than rivals Nakumatt, who one of the officials of the scheme accused of "bulldozing" them and offering a lower price. Mr Ogutu said the mall will cater for the expanding middle class in Machakos and Nairobi counties.

"Today, we see many of the Nairobi city residents, including many of my colleagues, moving to the peripheral of the city in search of the perfect living space for their families," said Mr Ogutu.

Other tenants who have already confirmed they will take up space at the mall include Bata, Lorenzo, Java, and Pizza Delight.

The development comes at a time when the once-booming real estate sector is undergoing some fundamental changes, with Knight Frank Kenya saying prices for high-end spaces and rentals have gone down in the recent times.

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