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There’s a reason why the English Point Marina apartments in Mombasa, Kenya, have attracted so many pre-construction investors. Despite the high prices, ranging from Sh36 million to Sh150 million per unit, the apartments are almost sold out. The developers have introduced a completely new concept in East Africa that is luring many investors to Mombasa.
The 5-star housing project will not be surrounded by high walls and tight security common with such establishments and it will house a marina that will accommodate 88 yachts, luring high-end tourists into Kenya’s coastal town.
Alnoor Kanji, a hotelier with an eye for detail, and who is behind the marina apartments has a new thinking, “The entire marina area will be flooded with light, an aspect of security measure that has not been taken seriously in Kenya. Nobody will ever commit a crime when everybody is watching them,” he said of the facility that will be open to the public for 24 hours, but which will provide privacy for apartment owners.”
“Psychologists have established that no human being likes being alone and the privacy the apartment offers and yet there is life going on out there has proved to be a very attractive concept,” Mr Kanji said. With just nine months into the project, the investor has sold 25% of the 96 apartments to mainly Kenyans buyers.
Rapid urbanization, population growth and expansion of the middle class are the main drivers of Kenya’s property market that is riding on nearly three decades of under—investment in the apartments and hotels. Growing tourism sector has attracted many developers to construct high-end hotels to lure travellers. Tourism earnings is expected to surpass the Sh74 billion benchmark of last year after the number of foreign arrivals rose by 15 per cent to 313,691 between January and March. Last year, the number of tourists visiting Kenya within the first three months was 272,424.
Tourism minister Najib Balala said the sector’s main objective will be to attract 1.4 million visitors by improving infrastructure.
Apart from home owners, the marina apartments have also attracted investors wishing to cash in on by providing accommodation when the facility is opened in December 2012.
The developer is looking to the housing project being the first destination for the high-end tourists visiting Mombasa. “These are people who are planning to use the apartments for holidays for just a few weeks and then let us manage them for the rest of the time,” Mr Kanji said.
These investors are also buying the apartments due to the expected appreciation once they open. An apartment facing the sea in the neighbouring beach hotels goes for between Sh20,000 to Sh25,000 a night and for the marina it is expected to generate over Sh35,000 a night with the prices expected to go higher in coming years.
“The apartments have also attracted unexpected corporate customers who would wish to own them not only as investments, but also as facilities to accommodate VIP visitors,” he said.
There are those who are buying the apartments for social status. Unique projects such as marinas, according to Mr Kanji, attract a significant number of people who want part of the cake just for social status. “We have several Kenyans who own apartments in Cape Town and Dubai not for commercial reasons, but to accommodate their friends and guests when they visit there,” Mr Kanji said.
There are 3 rows of houses in each block with the apartment in the first row, which is closest to the sea, going for between Sh54 million—Sh58 million depending on the floor. Mr Kanji said that out of the 24 first row apartments in the three blocks where the sale has started, only 3 are currently available.
“I was very concerned that these apartments would be the last to sell due to their huge price tag, but anybody who comes here and sees the ambience of the sea view is going for them,” Mr Kanji said.
The second row apartments are selling at Sh41 million-Sh45 million while the third row is going for Sh36 million-Sh40 million. The five bedrooms penthouse is selling at Sh150 million.
Mr Kanji said with rising cost of construction materials, the value of the houses is expected to increase as the construction goes on. The project was estimated to cost Sh4 billion when it started, but the cost could be reviewed upward. The apartments are built on four-story blocks consisting of 96 three bedroom apartments and eight five-bedroom penthouses, designed in such a manner that all rooms have a sea view.
The apartment blocks are built in an elevated position along Tudor creek overlooking Mombasa old town and the 16th-century Fort Jesus, two important tourist attractions in the region.
The structure for 3 apartments is almost ready and the contractor is now working on the penthouses.
“The contractor is working within the schedule and the marina is expected to be completed in the initially planned 24 months going by the assessment of the work already done in just nine months,” Mr Kanji said. The complex will also house a 26-room hotel, spa, gym, a five-star international marina, water sports centre, restaurants and an underground parking for about 200 vehicles, all of which construction is underway. The restaurant will be open to the public and according to Mr Kanji, three investors from Nairobi have submitted proposals to operate the restaurant.
The apartment, according to Mr Kanji is the strongest selling component of the marina and the small size of the hotel is designed to ensure that this component remains attractive to investors. A large hotel would have been in competition with the apartments, he explained.
The most attractive property anywhere in the world, he says, are marinas due to their proximity view of seafronts which is appealing, especially when one can view floating vessels from the comfort of their apartments.
With the upmarket apartments and facilities that the marina is going to offer, market analysts say, it is going to change the face of the coastal town, transform it into an international luxury marine resort, and claim its place as a landmark monument, defining the skyline of the resort city.
The marina will also have an oil jetty which according to tourism industry marketers, will position Kenya, known for its safaris and saline beaches, as the most favourable destination.
The marina will be the 3rd in Africa with others located in the East coast of Africa, one in South Africa and another in Egypt. Kenya does not have any facility to accommodate yachts and when they visit the coast, they remain in high seas and the guests have to use other means including choppers to access the mainland.
There will also be a fuel pump station at the marina to fully-service yachts and boats.
Source: Business Daily
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