A Knight Frank report on the Kenyan Real Estate Market showed that demand of high quality ‘Grade A’ & B office space increased by 12% the first half of 2018. But while the demad for such offices is on the rise, the Kenyan ‘Grade A’ office market continues to be slow in supply.
A majority of ‘Grade A’ commercial property can be found in upmarket locations such as Karen, Kilimani,Parklands, UpperHill, Westlands and parts of Mombasa Road, leaving out a large swathe of under-serviced business locales in the city. It is this low supply of quality offices that enabled Garden City to spot a gap that Garden City Business Park now seeks to address with its offering of “Grade A” office space targeting various sectors including entrepreneurs and businesses in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) field.
To assist in their goals of making Thika Highway compete with the rest of Nairobi, when it comes to premium office spaces, Garden City in February announced the appointment of Ms Ciru Okobi as Commercial Director to the Garden City Development Team. Chief among Ms Okobi’s many roles is to drive the commercialization agenda and uptake of Garden City Business Park.
Commenting on her appointment, Ms Okobi said, “I’m delighted to be working on such a prestigious project, which has been market-leading both in terms of concept and quality of delivery. We’re about to complete the first of four ‘Grade A’ office buildings, and which is already 60% leased to EABL for their new corporate headquarters.”
Upon announcement of her appointment, CIO East Africa, had a chance to interview Ms Okobi on how such offices will specifically benefit technology companies, and how they will affect Kenya’s technology ecosystem in general.
Sustainability for efficient tech use
Ms Okobi explained that, with their ‘Grade A’ offices a lot of time was invested at the design and engineering phase to not only ensure Garden City Business Park adheres to international standards but also appeals to the right clientele among them local and regional tech startups and global technology companies.
“We’ve incorporated a lot of design work to accommodate the extensive and varying needs of modern business such as space functionality. Characterized by the L-shaped floor pit, this design approach has given us up to 90% gross net efficiency. We have also embraced sustainable building technologies within the overall Garden City Development design. Our buildings are IFC Edge certified, and this creates a very modern, comfortable and fun work space for both the lessor and lessee,” she added.
To her point on Sustainability, Ms Okobi referenced Africa’s largest solar carport (farm) which was unveiled in 2015 at Garden City Mall. The solar energy generated by the solar farm currently contributes up to 18% of the electricity demand for Garden City’s retail clients as well as to power ancillary services such as lighting, lifts and escalators in the Mall. The solar farm will also be used to provide power to the business park.
During the launch of the solar farm in 2015, (the second of its kind in Kenya at the time), Guy Lawrence, Director at Solarcentury in Kenya, commented: “Solar is a mature, reliable energy generation technology that can be deployed quickly and at scale. We are seeing more and more businesses in Kenya looking to invest in solar because of the multiple benefits it affords – notably, it enables organizations to take control of their long term energy spend. A system like this will produce free solar energy through to its average lifetime of at least 25 years”.
Access to ‘Grade A’ offices at ‘Grade B’ prices
‘Grade A’ offices are office buildings with a total area ranging from 100,001 – 300,000 square feet that are pacesetters in establishing rents and that generally have ample and natural lighting, good views, prestigious finishing and on-site undercover parking, and a parking ratio of 3:1000 Square feet. While the Garden City Business Park matches this description of ‘Grade A’ offices, Ms Okobi says their prices will be among the best in the market.
“Because we’re introducing new international ‘Grade A’ offices on Thika Highway, an area previously under-served for premium offices, we’re offering rates of $1.1 per square foot to match rentals in Westlands and Upper Hill, which are in fact only prime Grade B quality spaces. We are able to offer these competitive rates by being value driven right from the start, with innovative engineering of our buildings which enables us to keep costs down and thus pass on the benefit to our clients.
Ms Okobi pointed out that some of the advantages of renting offices at the Garden City Business Park for tech companies could include:
- Having a ‘Grade A’ address; and access to ample parking;
- Living and working in a mixed use community consisting of an impressive shopping mall with over 100 shops, cafes and restaurants.
- Access to bespoke modern apartments and townhouses for purchase or rental with conveniently located and easily accessible amenities
- Diversity in businesses, industries, cultures and opportunities in a vibrant and growing community of people who live, work and play at the Garden City development.
Making a move for start-ups by promoting Co-working
Ms Okobi further explained that, Garden City Business Park was also exploring how to innovate in the co-working spaces concept so that start-ups looking for flexible working spaces are not left out. According to a research done by Coworking Africa, the co-working business is expected to see a boom in the continent, attributed to menials who make up 70% of Africa’s population.
“In modern business engagements we see a lot of telecommuting, virtual offices and the use of other modern-day communication technologies. We are already in talks with several co-working space partners, exploring how to create a uniquely competitive and attractive co-working space where people can utilize and benefit from these technologies.” Ms Okobi concluded.
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