High demand for office and commercial space is pushing estates in Nakuru out of the city centre.
The city’s central business district (CBD) which had earlier been concentrated along Kenyatta Avenue is expanding as the demand for bigger business and office space outgrows the small space in the newest city.
The CBD is extending towards Afraha Stadium to the south along Moi Road, Industrial Area to the west along with Nakuru-Eldoret highway and Section 58 Centre to the east towards Nakuru-Nairobi highway.
The demand arises from the rapid population growth, a sharp rise in the number of students graduating from colleges and universities and entering the labour market.
Other professionals have joined the informal sector after failing to secure jobs in different multi-sectoral companies and the civil service.
As a result, some government houses along Oginga Odinga Road next to Mburu Gichua Road roundabout to Bedi Road and Kenyatta Avenue have been demolished to pave way for modern buildings to house enterprises and offices.
This has also seen three-star hotels and modern buildings built along the street.
One building is housing one of the biggest supermarket chains along Oginga Odinga Road while some of the houses in the neighbourhood are on their way to demolition.
Most of the plots in this neighbourhood cost millions of shillings. A plot measuring 100 by 50 feet now goes for Sh50 million while that measuring 80 by 50 feet costs between Sh30 million and Sh40 million according to Jojean Real Estates Consultants Managing Director Sammy Kiguru.
Kiguru said the elevation of Nakuru into a city has opened doors, opportunities and benefits to the residents whose dividends will be reaped gradually.
“The benefits will not be felt by the residents at the moment but will trickle down to the city dwellers with time,” Kiguru told The Standard.
“Of course, the elevation of the town into a city comes with so many changes, which include an increase in the cost of licenses, land rates, rent and the cost of doing business,” he added.
Kiguru said the expansion of the CBD will depend on the nature of business suitable in a particular locality and the services of different professionals in the area.
“Surprisingly, the CBD is also expanding towards the affluent Milimani Estate and the professionals who like or occupy offices in such areas are the likes of architectures and engineers who are used to serene environments,” he explained.
Milimani Estate houses the super-rich who come from different parts of the country.
The De-Negotiators Enterprises Managing Director Elly Ogutu noted that most of the residential houses along this street (Oginga Odinga) are inhabitable.
“They (old houses) are inhabitable and it is the reason most of them are being sold out to private developers and later get demolished to create space for new modern buildings for the city’s expansion,” said Ogutu.
He said even those houses that are habitable are also facing demolition - having outgrown their usefulness.
Most of them were built in the early 20th century for the senior civil servants and senior officials of the Kenya Railways Corporation by the colonialists during the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway.
Ogutu said it was just a matter of time before some of the county and government houses located along Kinuthia Mbugua Road are brought down to create space for the CBD’s expansion.
“These are old houses, which in a matter of time will also be demolished to create space for high-rise residential and commercial buildings owing to the growing population,” he said.
And with the demand for an increase in university student accommodation, some of the former three bedroomed houses previously owned by a government parastatal in the same location (Oginga Odinga Road) have been leased out to university hostels.
With developed infrastructure, Kiguru said it was easier to come up with high-rise offices and commercial buildings that serve the needs of the growing population.
“Every development revolves around in places with proper infrastructures like the well-developed sewer lines, good road network and communication facilities,” said the veteran real estate consultant.
At Kenyatta Avenue, similar houses have been turned into offices while part of the spaces have been turned into car bazaars as the city starts to come to terms with the demands and high expectations of the residents.
These new developments have seen a sharp increase in house rents in the middle and high-end estates.
Kiguru said such development also opens the door to investors.