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Crystal Rivers Project Set to Change the Face Of Machakos County

A one-of-a-kind mixed use development is coming up in Machakos County, Kenya, courtesy of the Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme. The multi-billion Kenya Shilling Crystal Rivers residential and commercial development project is another indicator of the growing confidence investors have in Machakos.

A rapidly growing middle class in Kenya has continued to fuel demand for property. Construction is surging, with many shopping malls, office parks and residential developments under construction. It is a sector that continues to surprise experts with its see-sawing performance making their predictions of impending slumps or bubble bursts come to naught.

It is therefore no surprise that many investors including groups of individuals, savings societies, insurance companies, pension schemes and many others are turning to property development to maximize yields for their members or stakeholders.

One such investor is the Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme. Over the last few years, the scheme has registered tremendous growth in the traditional asset classes and its trustees now feel that the time is right to diversify  into real estate development so as to realize the aspirations of members, which include being at the forefront of property development in Kenya.

The Ksh.3.48B (US$34m) project comprises a shopping mallandresidential houses. The anchor tenant in the mall is a leading Kenyan retail supermarket, with banks and ATMs, retailers, eateries, entertainment outlets, clinics and a conference/exhibition facility also expected to set up in the commercial space.

Why Machakos?

Machakos County has received favorable ratings since the devolved system of government in Kenya became operational and the first county governments created following 2013 General Election. The Government of Machakos has created an environment conducive to business, which not only encourages property development but also fosters a mutually beneficial engagement with businesses; all aimed at enhancing rapid development of the County.

The choice of location was also influenced by the fact that it is a fast developing transport corridor with readily available and suitable land for both residential and commercial development. The county, about 25 kilometers from Nairobi’s Central Business District, has witnessed exponential growth in property development and an increasingly large number of people are opting to buy or build in the area, not only because land is available at reasonable prices but also to escape congestion in the city’s suburbs.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Crystal Rivers project took place in mid-June this year at a ceremony presided over by Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua and Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, as well as Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme Chairman Les Bailie. The project itself commenced three weeks later. It is expected that the Mall component will be complete by mid-2017 and the residential units at the end of 2017.

Extentand Architectural Aspects

The Crystal Rivers Mall and Residences are being built on 25.3 acres of land, with a mall whose lettable area totals 200,000 square feet. The residential units will comprise 267 units of 3 and 4 bedroom maisonettesmeasuring114.5 and 150 square meters respectively, each with parking space as well as servants’ quarters.

Crystal Rivers is the only development of its kind in Machakos designed to effortlessly fuse suburban living with commercial activity, with the layout of the development leaning on contemporary architecture to provide panoramic views of the fast-growing Machakos County from the Crystal Mall.

The residential units are tastefully designed with spacious rooms. Unlike in regular residential developments, each four bedroom unit at Crystal Rivers has three levels to make optimal use of the land. In addition, the inclusion of a reclaimed water front, park and jogging track for use by residents provides the allure of a modern gated community just a few minutes away from the capital city.

The optimal use of natural light and adoption of other green technology (solar water heating, bio-digester) throughout the development cuts down energy consumption by reducing the need for air conditioning and electric water heating, setting it apart from other large developments.

Various factors influenced design decisions by the architects, including results of a market study and the river frontage. Given that the site itself is low-lying, appropriate elevations are being undertaken to ensure an effective drainage system.

According to Amazon Consultants – who are the Development Managers– all construction materials to be used at Crystal Rivers will be sourced locally, a departure from many other upcoming developments that depend heavily on imported materials.

Residents and visitors to the mall and will also enjoy adequate parking, with each home allocated two parking slots while the mall will be able to accommodate at least 1000 vehicles.

Boreholes are to be sunk to guarantee constant water supply while a standby generator will take care of power needs should supply from the national grid be interrupted.

Twenty-four -hour security on the premises will also be provided, backed by CCTV and Access Control systems. The project sponsor, Safaricom, will also be introducing SMART CITY installations for integrated internet and WIFI access.

Challenges

While the site is generally good for development, being a low-lying area in proximity to a river poses a flood risk and that has been given great consideration, while other areas with a weak bearing capacity require heavy foundations to ensure stability.

Lessons Learnt So Far

According to QS David Gaitho of Amazon Consultants, Crystal Rivers is a fast-paced project that requires highly competent team members as well as the support of the surrounding community, which the Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme hopes to involve by providing job opportunities.

To ensure the success of the development, the Pension Schemehas embraced a Development Manager approach, which is an end to end mode of project delivery that considers site selection, best use of site, business case development and review. The Development Manager is also instrumental in the selection of the core and support teams, statutory approvals, project management, close out and disposal.

 

 

Project Team

Client

The Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme

 

Consultants

Development Managers: Amazon Consultants Limited

Architects: MutisoMenezes International& Paragon Architects (South Africa)

Quantity Surveyors: M & M Construction Consultants

Civil/Structural Engineers: Xenocon Consulting Engineers

Services Engineers: Gill Consult Consulting Engineers

Access Improvement Engineer: Terms Kenya Ltd

 

Main Contractor

Landmark Holdings Limited

Subcontractors

Electricals: Jupiter Electrical & General Contractors Ltd

Plumbers: Trident Plumbers

BMS, ICT, CCTV, Fire Alarm, Access Control: East Africa Infrastructure Services Ltd

Generator Installation:Achelis Materials Handling Ltd

Lifts & Escalators: Schindler Limited

Air Conditioning & Mechanical Ventilation:Vio-tech Ltd

Solar Water Heating: Sun-trap Solar Engineers Ltd

Elevated Water Tank: Strucon Ventures Ltd

Borehole: Water Leaders Ltd

Bio Digesters: CESP Ltd

 

Letting & Selling Agents:

Advent Valuers

Crystal Valuers

Gimco Ltd

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