A leisurely drive through the forest and curves of Limuru road on a Sunday afternoon will never be the same again. The once quiet road frequented by some of Nairobi’s richest citizens including politicians, Cabinet secretaries and top diplomats, has roared to life as motorists make their way to the biggest mall in the region. On any weekend today, one will be met by winding queues of traffic, at times stretching over a kilometre through the affluent Muthaiga, Gigiri, Runda and Rosslyn estates into the magnificent gates of Two Rivers Mall.
Already more than 200,000 people have visited the mall since it was opened, with most traffic reported in the first two weeks after it flew its doors open during this year’s Valentine’s Day. On average, about 10,000 people visited the mall daily in the fortnight alone.
As soon as one gets through the gates, a shopper can download a mobile application that can help them find their way around to the parking, and then to the rest of the 67,000 square metres of retail space housing nearly 200 stores. At any given time the mall can accommodate 1,300 cars with parking option of the basement, the rooftop or the open parking space outside the mall.
Status of Nairobi
Its location near Gigiri, Nairobi’s diplomatic blue zone, and bordering Runda on one side and Crossly estate on the other side gives it the proximity to tap into the shopping budgets of Nairobi’s millionaires. It also faces Ruaka estate on the front, one of the fastest growing residential areas by population, hosting the young middle class.
Two Rivers, now the largest mall in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa, has raised the status of Nairobi as the shopping destination in the region. Among its tenants are 18 food and beverage outlets, 10 banks, 38 fashion and apparel stores and 13 health and beauty stores. In addition to the retail, entertainment and lifestyle offerings, the mall also includes two office towers with a combined leasable space of over 21,000 square meters of Grade A offices.
Two Rivers, located on just 11 acres of the 100 acres available for the development, which will ultimately comprise residential, commercial, retail, MICE and hospitality offerings when complete.
Centum, the investment company behind the mall says it has already sunk Sh27billion in the first phase of the project.
It has spared no effort to secure the mall after it splashed nearly Sh1billion into a security system.
Anything in the vicinity of the mall will be captured by any of its 500 CCTV cameras.
And shoppers don’t have to surrender their privacy and personal space when going through the security checks that is associated with the physical screening by metal detectors.
To eliminate this discomfort, the mall is using a system mostly used at airports where someone is scanned without any physical contact. It is counting on a digital barrier system, known as the ThruVis TS4C, one of the most advanced people-screening camera system that can detect concealed objects at four to 10 metres to keep shoppers safe.
The mall says its security system can detect metal or plastic weapons, explosives, liquids and currency and basically anything concealed under clothing with almost 100 per cent effectiveness. It can also identify a gun in a crowded place.
To access the mall from the parking, one has to go through this system that operates like a camera that transfers your image to a screen manned by a security guard. The system is fitted with a software that helps security details manning it using a laptop, show a colour CCTV image of a person being screened.
If one doesn’t have any object, the security guard will see an entire red body, but anything else turns blue, with a clear outline. It provides real-time screening, automatic alerts to the mall’s security control room.
To take care of shoppers who want to visit the mall on foot or cycling, the Two Rivers project will also have jogging and cycling lanes for tenants and guests.
Space for events
Another unique feature of the mall is to have public event spaces. Most other malls convert their parking spaces for events. One of the spaces, the CK Square, can hold more than 2000 people. Already, the spaces have attracted one of the most popular Television comedy shows—Churchill Show—that has started live recording at one of the squares.
The development still has more on the pipeline. There is also a planned movie theatre on the way. It has also planned 3600 seater Amphitheatre that will also have a live studio, an outdoor video facility and VIP corporate spots.
South Africa’s City Lodge Hotel group and Victoria Bank have bought land in the project. City Lodge Hotel group are establishing a three star hotel expected to have 170 rooms. On their part, Victoria Bank are constructing an office block.
When complete, the complex will have 18 escalators, 22 lifts and 4 travellators.
Other developments in the pipeline include luxury apartments, a five star hotel and residences, AS well as additional parking.
Some of the tenants include Deacons Group, which has four stores in the mall among them Adidas, Bossini, Mr Price Home, Mr Price Apparel.
Other tenants include Chandarana Food Plus, Carrefour, LC Waikiki, Villeroy & Bosch, Magic Planet, Swarovski, Anmol Jewellers, Woolworth, Azadea TA Cool Trends and Secret Garden.
The mall has also signed up Burger King, Artcaffe, Text Book Centre, Coffee Nove, Urban Gourmet, Barclays Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sidian Bank, Coop Bank & Stanbic Bank amongst others.
The entry of Two Rivers on the mall market is set to step up competition for shoppers fighting it out with Garden City, Thika Road Mall (TRM), The Hub, the upcoming Riviera Mall on Limuru Road, Capital Centre, Greenspan, T-Mall and Kiambu Mall among others.