BY VICTOR ADAR
It is not easy being a real estate developer especially now that Covid-19 pandemic has a bearing on businesses, countries and families. For months, business environment has been tough and making the big dollar a tall order for many investors. Ensuring business continuity has meant that innovation and out of the box ideas are embraced.
“We now want to move to counties,” says Shiv Arora, Superior Homes CEO. “There we see a huge opportunity in developing what we would call middle income housing but not apartments. We are delivering a unit at between Sh6m to Sh10m in the growing Kenyan counties and someone can have their space or a garden on their own plot, and making sure that it is affordable and within the reach of growing middle class.”
Mr Arora who is behind a company that primarily focus on master planned communities, says that there is a pretty high demand for average houses in counties as compared to apartments. The growing road and rail network is a sign that access to the counties, including the ones touted as remote, will be an easy affair.
At the same time, the viability of this market is partially hinged on the growing number of professionals in counties. These days, people with buying power such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and administrators, are doing well, and quite settled in various counties.
Besides plans to spread tentacles to counties before end of the year, Superior Homes, the developers of Greenpark estate, is set to build a retail commercial centre at a cost of Sh350 m. The developer will break ground for the 3,500 square meters commercial centre in the second quarter of 2021 and will be completed in 2022.
The commercial centre, to be situated at the front of the Greenpark Estate, will provide a shopping outlet for the growing number of residents of Greenpark, estate which has taken time to mature to what it is today, now nearing 700 families. It will also give a one-stop shopping opportunity for the travellers along the busy Nairobi – Mombasa Highway, which is currently under expansion.
The on-going construction of the Nairobi Expressway, which is targeted to rid Mombasa road of the notorious traffic snarl-ups, is also expected to attract more residents to the Mlolongo, Kitengela and Athi River areas. Expressway will be a game changer, as the anticipated traffic-free infrastructure will play a major role in providing ease of accessibility of the retail centre to both the residents of Greenpark and the general public.
“Our concept to launch the retail frontage is attributed to the relatively high occupancy for residents and motorists along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway with high consumer purchasing power,” says Superior Homes’ chief executive Shiv Arora.
Research has shown that most developers have resolved to concentrate on the delivery of well-located small and medium-sized convenience shopping centres instead of the popular mega-malls. Nairobi has the greatest volume of modern retail floor space in the sub-Saharan region and continues to be a development hotspot.
“The commercial centre, a first concept in Mavoko Municipality, will comprise of convenience stores, small outlets, dry cleaners, offices, banks and supermarkets and everything that the community needs to be sufficient,” he says.
Mr Arora adds that the project is part of the year’s re-evaluated business model approach for the real estate developer as it bounces back to recovery following the impact of the health pandemic that affected the real estate sector last year. Key selling point will be accessibility, and efficiency. It will ensure that people can “shop and leave”.
To him, it is not just about business but also improving the market. This is going to be almost like what happens in the UK and US where there are retail centres on the side of major housing developments as well as highways. Locally, Delamere Farm shop, which is on Nakuru Nairobi highway seems to be a success story – It is always a buzz with motorists who make stops to relax, bite something, or simply shop.
Although the virus has brought a disruptive effect to most businesses including real estate, there is hope that things will bounce back. But, even then, a positive outlook will only be realised, if, and only if, strategic areas of growth are not overlooked. And Superior Homes seems to be prepared to make it happen. How will it pun out?
“In summary, 2020 was a difficult year but we are seeing a lot of sales and that’s obviously a positive and it shows that this is going to be a growing market. Superior homes are doing well as sales picked up. We hope for a strong 2021,” says Arora.