Private equity firm Actis will start building a Sh12.4 billion housing project, dubbed Garden City, in December. The project, to be built on a 32-acre piece of land in Thika, will include a 50,000 square metre retail mall, commercial premises, 500 homes, and a four-acre central park. The mall will be bigger compared to Sarit Centre (30,000sq metres), Junction (26,000sq metres), and Westgate (30,000sq metres).

The project comes at a time when investment in shopping malls, especially in Nairobi, has been on the rise. “The total investment in all phases of the project is estimated at Sh12.4 billion over a five-year period,” said Michael Turner, Actis head of East Africa, adding that the venture is fully-owned by the firm.

Investment in Kenya’s real estate has been rising amid high prices of homes. The project is one of the investments that are strengthening Actis’ hand in Kenya’s property market. Ground-breaking will take place in December with completion targeted for May 2014. Letting is under way with Knight Frank Kenya acting as the property managers. The property managers are optimistic that the mall will attract many investors.

“All the malls we have managed are enjoying 100 per cent occupancy, indicating strong demand,” said James Mureyo, the retail manager at Knight Frank. The construction boom of top-end malls is also attracting international retailers and well-known brands such as Deacons that need a concentration of high-spending shoppers.