Riat Hills is new magnet for the rich and luxury business hubs
By Washington Onyango and Harold Odhiambo | May 21st 2021
Just 20 years ago, the land that is now a residential paradise in the outskirts of Kisumu town was a jungle.
The Riat Hills where the who’s who in the lakeside city has put up a residential home was nothing compared to what it has become today.
Within just a few years, it has become the haven for the haves with rows of majestic residential houses.
Riat Hills has been attracting wealthy individuals from the region and developers from Nairobi who are moving in to explore the property market in Kisumu.
The rocky hills that stood in the horizons of Kisumu are now turning into leafy-suburbs as investors go for it and land prices skyrocket.
Hordes of real estate agents can always be seen walking clients through the stony, vast hills checking out the best views as they discuss the escalating cost of land in the area.
Riat, in its own right, has managed to pull investors most of whom bought land in the area, which they later subdivided and sold.
Multi- million housing projects are currently being built on the hill with a few outstanding modern homes on the hilltop.
The hills have undergone a magical transformation for an area which was deserted, only characterised by thick bushes on steep slopes.
Only a handful of people lived there, with houses scattered and miles apart.
From the area, one can enjoy the scenic views of Lake Victoria, including the beautiful sunset as well as the Kisumu International Airport and its runway.
With recent development and facilities such as modern health centres, hotels, cultural centres and villas, the Riat Hills is now challenging the oldest posh estate of Milimani, which is slowly losing its exclusivity as a leafy suburb.
Riat Hills nowadays has a new breed of residents – well-to-do individuals and real estate investors who opt for modern urban designs.
The hills are home to ultra-modern facilities such as the Kisumu Specialists Hospital, the Susan Owiyo Art Centre, Ramogi Institute of Technology and several posh villas.
Others include Swedish firm, Coromandele Investment Ltd and Home Afrika Ltd, among many others who haven’t started construction and are therefore little-known.
Coromandele Investment Ltd is planning to put up luxury villas to be known as the Riat Hills Villas.
Coromandele plans to develop 30 villas on eight and a-half acres.
The villas will be developed by Coromandele Design, a subsidiary of Coromandele Investment.
The villas will have a flowing design with large windows.
The external walls will have stone cladding, cement fibre slats and textured paint to give it a textured brownish feel that blends with nature.
The cabinetry, like other modern developments will be built using MDF and granite.
The floor will be wooden to give warmth at all times since the area can be quite windy at times.
The villas will have roof top terraces with Jacuzzis.
The Riat Hills Villas will be four-bedroomed developments with enormous space.
The Stockholm Villa, which is the largest house, will measure 7,000 square foot while Gothenburg Villa, the smallest will be 4,600 square foot.
Currently, most high-end residential developments in Kisumu town do not get to 5,000 square foot.
When The Standard visited Riat yesterday, construction workers were busy putting final touches on one of the palatial homes.
The owner of the home, a senior county official who asked not to be named, said he was attracted to the area because of its scenic views.
“Technological advancement in architecture has made it possible for me to call this place home.
“The scenes are heart-warming and relaxing with the mix of nature and a lively city in the background making it perfect place to live in,” said the owner.
A few metres away stands the home of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Other prominent personalities with residences on the hills are Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch, Nyando MP Jared Okello and a host of Asian businessmen.
Raila’s house has several conference rooms, multiple kitchens, an expansive garden and offices.
A number of investors, leaders and homeowners interviewed attributed the developments to availability of land in the area as well as a good road network.
Patrick Owino, one of the real estate agents in Kisumu, said property prices in the area have continued to skyrocket with many people continuing to flock the area looking for space.
“In parts of Riat and Ojolla, a quarter of an acre goes for up to Sh3 million,” said Owino, whose view is shared by another agent Bernard Onyango.
“Kisumu is growing and that is why most properties are now coming up on the outskirts of the town.”
Israel Agina, the chair of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce Kisumu branch said the growth will transform Kisumu into a regional economic hub.
“We cannot have bungalows within the city anymore and that is why we are witnessing the emergence of skyscrapers on the hills,” Agina said.
Abala Wanga, the Kisumu city manager said there are plans to improve amenities in the areas surrounding the town.
He said the expansion of the town would continue and in a few years, all neighbouring villages would be at the centre of the town’s development.
Among key facilities serving the new Kisumu ‘paradise’ is the Lake Basin Development Mall, located on the Kisumu-Kakamega road.
The mall is easily accessible to residents of Riat and Kajulu Hills.
Measuring about 60,000 square foot, the five-floor facility has about 140 shops, a three-star hotel, showrooms, and a parking area that can accommodate 335 cars.
The mall is the major facility serving the rapidly growing new estates.
David Arao, the Railways Ward MCA whose ward lies within the area, said that the construction of the Chemelil-Mamboleo road would open up the area further.
“We are hoping the road will be tarmacked up to the airport to help serve Riat Hills and areas around it,” said Arao.
Other areas that have seen a transformation are Kajulu, Maseno hills, Mountain View and Mamboleo, which have posh facilities and homes of prominent people.
As developers wait for the roads that traverse the hills to be constructed by the county government, the area will for sure continue to attract Kenyans with deep pockets.
The population in the area is truly cosmopolitan making it an ideal location for holiday homes with its strikingly scenic vistas.
All that the country government needs to improve on in order raise the area’s profile and to attract more local and foreign investors, is the infrastructure.
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