Cytonn’s dream to build Sh21b tower in city shattered

Cytonn Investments CEO Edwin Dande. [File, Standard]

Cytonn Investments plans to sell one of its prime plots in Nairobi, ending its dream to build a Sh21 billion tower.

Edwin Dande, the Cytonn chief executive yesterday said the company had resolved to put its four-acre plot in Kilimani up for sale following negative publicity on the project. 

The firm will be accepting bids for the plot, with the proceeds to be used to improve liquidity for the company’s real estate funds.

“We are selling the best land in Kilimani, bids welcome,” Dande posted on Facebook.

He narrated how he got the “beautiful parcel…the largest vacant plot with two access roads on Argwings and Elgeyo, and located smack in the middle of a mass affluence.”

He singled out two “buddies in Upper hill” for besmirching the project, leading to the latest decision to dispose of it.

Cytonn planned to put up a 35-floor skyscraper on the land, but disagreement with some residents in the area scuttled the project for the cash-strapped investment company.

The Nairobi County Government cancelled the project’s development plan that was approved in 2017, following which Cytonn moved to court to challenge the decision.

However, the court was satisfied with the county’s explanation that Kileleshwa, Riverside and Kilimani fall under Zone 4 that allows for construction of buildings not higher than three storeys.

“County governments have a duty to use planning controls to ensure development is allowed only where it is needed, while ensuring the character and amenity of the areas are not adversely affected,” said Justice John Mativo.

“The planning system plays an important role in modern society. It is meant to protect amenity and the environment in the public interest.”

Some Kilimani residents, led by the proprietor of Cavina School, a British preparatory learning institution, had claimed that the building would put the health and safety of their children at risk.

The proposed Cytonn Towers was a three-pronged structure, with each wing having 35 floors at the junction of Argwings Kodhek and Elgeyo-Marakwet Road.

It was to house a hotel, offices, parking space, serviced and residential apartments. 

At some point in 2018, Dande and the management of Cavina School traded barbs over the project.

The school accused Cytonn of not conducting enough public sensitisation about the associated risks to those living around the proposed construction site.

“With foundations that may need to be 30m (100ft) deep, the construction poses considerable safety hazards to neighbouring properties in the area,” said Adrian Massie-Blomfield, the Cavina School managing director in 2018.

Members of the Kilimani Project Foundation also objected to the project.

Cytonn Tower’s plan was approved, with conditions, on July 24, 2017. Some of the conditions included conducting public participation.

Failure to honour the details on the letter led to cancellation of the development plan in April 2018.

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