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Why Eastlands is new home to big money

Eastlands is on the up and up.

It’s the new county hot spot — shedding its seedy image by attracting billions of shillings in new supermarkets and housing.

Large chains including Nakumatt, Uchumi, Naivas and Tuskys are jostling for space as they seek to cash in on the area known for hosting the majority of Nairobi’s working class; around 2.2 million of them.

And the oldest African estates, identified with crime and overcrowding, are about to be redeveloped, thanks to the planned upgrade of Outer Ring Road connecting the Thika Super Highway to Mombasa Road.

Multistory blocks

That should happen within four years as the estates are transformed into high-density multistory blocks.

The new investment cycle has just kicked off with the area seeing an influx of high end shopping malls with luxury coffee shops, restaurants and food courts, supermarkets, banks and other businesses including beauty shops, chemists and cinemas.

The new malls, high quality housing and improved and new roads will attract more investors, said Housing Finance’s managing director Frank Ireri.

“As long as there’s increased investment in shopping malls and other infrastructure projects in the area, the area will keep attracting investments,” Mr Ireri said.

His firm has been at the centre of development in Eastlands, building and financing homebuyers in Buruburu and Komarock estates.

“Property prices will definitely escalate as residents and investors demand quality, convenient and comfortable experience in the area,” he added.

The game changers have been the Greenspan and Taj malls hosting Tuskys and Uchumi.

Nakumatt, the biggest supermarket chain in the country, has also booked space in the upcoming Shujaa Mall in Donholm.

“Eastlands is vast and highly populated. There was no shopping mall in the area when we were starting out. We saw a lot of potential and we felt there was a big market able to sustain a shopping mall,” explained John Wambugu, chairman of Virgin Estate, the developers of Shujaa Mall.

Construction began in 2009 and is nearing completion. Greenspan Investment started building Greenspan Mall in 2008 in Donholm to target the growing middle-income earners, with rising disposable incomes.

The mall was opened last year with about 60 outlets featuring brands like Tuskys, Aga Khan Hospital, Bata, Optica, Healthy U, Multichoice, Fuji Film, Phone Link, Standard Chartered and Bank of Africa, Pizza Inn and Chicken Inn.

Taj Mall, in Embakasi, which brands itself as an upscale retail complex with leisure outlets, opened in 2011.

Embakasi has also attracted large supermarkets with Nakumatt opening behind City Cabanas restaurant and Tuskys near Nairobi Bottlers.

Mama Lucy Hospital, tipped as the second referral hospital in Nairobi after Kenyatta National Hospital, is also in Eastlands.