Nairobi city centre will regain its lustre
By By KEVIN OGUOKO
| Aug 15th 2013 | 3 min read
By KEVIN OGUOKO
1.What is behind Mentor Management’s claim to be one of East Africa’s most respected development managers?
Mentor has a reputation for integrity and professionalism. Our team has gained experience all over the world, giving us the ability to look beyond conventional wisdom when analysing and realising real estate opportunities.
2.What are the prime locations to watch out for in terms of office building development in Nairobi?
Westlands will remain the most sought-after area for multi-nationals and footloose businesses, while Upper Hill will remain popular for major banks, insurance companies and legal firms. Upper Hill will become increasingly disadvantaged by traffic congestion. Decentralisation to more peripheral areas will also become an increasing trend for those businesses, which do not require citywide public transport accessibility.
3.More and more companies are moving from the Nairobi’s Central Business District. What can be done to reverse this situation?
The CBD is still very well located and will become increasingly decongested once the improvements are carried out to Uhuru Highway. I see a renaissance of the CBD over time as accessibility improves and additional car parking is added to satisfy the demand for new businesses. We are working on the development of a major car parking facility in the CBD at present, which will help to reduce under-supply of spaces.
4.Why do you think there is little growth in Mombasa Road office market?
The problem with Mombasa Road has solely to do with traffic congestion. Once the roads are improved, things will improve.
5.What is your view on the office market in other counties?
It is still early for the counties. I do not see a change to the pre-eminence of Nairobi as the business hub in the country, although increasing number of businesses, particularly in the financial services sector, is expanding their networks, which will lead to modest demand for clean, modern accommodation in the provincial cities.
6.There has been concern that there are not enough project managers in Kenya. What is your take on that and how does it affect the real estate industry?
It is true that real estate development over the last few years has outpaced the supply of qualified and experienced practitioners. This has led to delays in projects completion, inefficient designs and sometimes poor finishes.
7.What are the main advantages of having a ‘one-stop’ management service firm undertaking a real estate project on behalf of a client as opposed to the hiring of professionals from various firms?
A single point of control means there is one team of experienced individuals taking full responsibility for the delivery of the development in terms of programming, budgeting and to quality. Clients have often undertaken the development management role in the past, but we are seeing a growing divergence between pricing of property, which has been professionally planned and executed. Architects also traditionally do not have the research skills and market knowledge to specify the product to best meet market demand.
8.How does East Africa’s real estate management services compare with the rest of the world?
In management of completed buildings, I would say we have a handful of good professionals in this market although there is some catching up to do to achieve international standards. As the market grows, we are seeing more international management businesses being attracted to Kenya, each bringing its own standards and methodologies, which will improve the overall pool of skilled practitioners.
9.Tell us about Mentor Management’s upcoming projects.
We are planning a number of retail projects across the region, although we are yet to launch them. Nairobi Business Park and Garden City are two major projects in progress at the moment.
10.How is Mentor Management planning to reap from opportunities to be created by Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits)?
We are still reviewing how best to benefit from Reits. It is clear, however, that they offer the potential to draw significant new funds into the real estate sector.
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