High rise apartments could solve Kenya’s housing crisis

High rise apartments in Glasgow.
High rise apartments in Glasgow. Housing towers can help solve Kenya’s housing woes. PHOTO/FILE
The City Council of Nairobi recently announced it was reviewing building restrictions in Nairobi’s leafy estates to pave way for the construction of high-rise apartments.

The Council’s decision to review the laws that were established more than two decades ago is timely, if not long overdue.

Because of the building restrictions, developers cannot build high rise flats in Nairobi’s upmarket estates such as Kilimani, Westlands, Lavington and Kileleshwa.

These restrictions could have made sense 30 years ago when the population of Nairobi was about 1 million people.

But with the city’s population exceeding 3 million people there is need to open up leafy suburbs to pave way for the construction of high rise flats.

High rise apartments have proved to be the most efficient way of maximum land use in densely populated cities around the world. In many developed countries, high rise apartments are currently attracting many cash buyers as their prices remain quite affordable.

By building multi-storey apartments, developers are able to distribute the land costs over the number of units in a building – thereby bringing down the cost per unit.

For example, if a developer puts up a 17-storey residential complex consisting of 2,500 units on a 41-acre piece of land valued at Sh1 billion, the cost of land attributable to every unit is less than Sh400,000. This means the developer can afford to sell or rent out the apartments at very affordable prices.

It is pleasing to note that Nairobi’s housing market is already focusing on high rise apartments. The 12-storey Metro Fairview in Pangani estate attests to the new high rise building trend in the city. Developed by Erdermann Properties, Metro Fairview are currently the highest residential apartments in Kenya.

Recently, Kasarani Hills consortium unveiled plans to build residential apartments of up to 18 floors near the Kasarani sports complex on a 41-acre estate. These developments are commendable.

By allowing the construction of high rises, we will be solving the problem of housing without resorting to measures such as converting agricultural land into commercial land, or worse subdividing the Nairobi National Park.