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Luxury residential tower goes ahead despite glut

By Gardy Chacha | March 4th 2021
Architectural Design of 88 Nairobi. [Courtesy]

The chairman of Lordship Africa, Jonathan Jackson, is confident that by December 2023 Kenya will have full bragging rights as the country with the tallest high-end residential building in Africa.

This is despite him admitting that the real estate bubble did burst around early 2019. A market burst happens when supply goes higher than demand.

“There is no doubt that the bubble bust – for the middle and upper market – around the start of 2019. In places like Kilimani and Westlands rent has halved in the last 12 months,” Mr Jackson said in an interview with Home & Away.

Lordship is the company behind 88 Nairobi, a development set at Nairobi’s Upper Hill, adjacent to Bishop Road and Fourth Ngong Avenue.

Expected to rise 44 floors, it will be one the tallest residential skyscrapers in Africa. South Africa’s Ponte City, a 54-storey low-end establishment in Johannesburg, is currently the tallest residential building on the continent.

After a two-year delay occasioned by architectural redesign and Covid-19 downtime, construction has resumed at the site, with the foundation and basement seemingly complete.

Jonathan Jackson is the chairman of Lordship Africa; the company behind 88 Nairobi, which is set for completion by December 2023. [Courtesy]

“There are several factors working in our favour. To start with, there are no good quality residential units in Upper Hill. Unlike Kilimani and Westlands, we have almost no competition,” Jackson said.

“Secondly, Upper Hill is home to offices for multinationals, listed companies, international organisations and other respectable firms.

“Data shows that about 40,000 people work in Upper Hill. Most of these cannot find a decent place for a home. Yet they would wish to be close to work and avoid the crazy Upper Hill traffic.”

88 Nairobi will feature studio, one and two-bedroom fully furnished apartments and penthouses. In total, there will be 288 living units.

The building will have luxury amenities such as a manned reception, lounge, pool, spa and a helipad. “Our target clients for this project are middle-class citizens, Kenyans living abroad and expatriates,” Jackson said.

The project was launched in 2018 and construction had been estimated to end this year. “After the launch we decided to add two basement levels, more floors and extra packing. We spent time redesigning. And then we had to re-apply for construction permits.”

“We started construction towards the end of 2019. Because Upper Hill is home to many offices we were forced to dig the basement quietly and slowly to reduce noise pollution; which stalled us further.

And then came Covid-19 that forced everything to a halt. Construction resumed in December last year.

“The good news is that we do not foresee any other situation that would force us to stop construction again. It is all systems go for us, and there is no reason for us to miss our 2023 target,” Jackson said.

So far, he adds, the project has attracted 76 pre-sale transactions.

The two-bedroom units are going for Sh25 million currently, but when complete Jackson predicts they will cost at least Sh40 million.  

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