Property developer Acorn eyes students with Sh1.9bn hostels in Nairobi

KENYA – Property developer Acorn Holdings is rolling out a 3,591-room hostel on a five-acre plot in Karen suburb of Kenya’s capital city Nairobi, targeting students from a local university, Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

Environmental impact assessment filings by the firm said the land was acquired from the university.

 Spruce Properties LLP, a fully owned subsidiary of Acorn will implement the $18.9 million project.

“The parcel of land was acquired from CUEA with the sole understanding that it be developed into students hostels as the university had previously intended, “said Spruce in the Kenya National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) fillings.

“The proposal is to develop the property into two residential brands, namely Qwetu and Qejani incorporating amenities blocks and a retail block which will serve the students within the property,” the statement revealed.

Acorn, known for their purpose-built students’ hostel brands Qwetu and Qejani, said the Karen project would be built within the next two years comprising 12 blocks.

The firm charges between $140 and $153 for a room on the premium Qwetu brand and between $70 to $116 under the Qejani brand.

The collaboration between the university and the private property developer is a pointer to a possible solution for Kenya’s  institutions of higher learning that face perennial student accommodation problems but lack the finances to put up hostels on their sizeable parcels of idle land.

The  project is targeting a slice of the more than 19,000 students in the area, drawn from CUEA (5,158), Kenya School of Law (605) Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Karen (5,000),Multimedia University (4,632), Co-operative University (3,724), Tangaza University College (501) and Marist University’s 255 students.

Acorn has been putting up the bespoke student facilities around Nairobi targeting the ready, underserved student housing market.

It has four completed projects under the Qwetu brand with a combined capacity of 1,570 rooms.

The newest is the 512-room Madaraka property known as Qwetu Wilson view, which mainly targets students from Strathmore University.

Upcoming projects include the Sh810 million Nairobi West Qwetu hostels project targeting Strathmore University and the Sh880 million Qwetu 3 and Sh740 million Qwetu 4 United States International University Africa (USIU-Africa) set for completion by May 2021.

Qwetu Hurligham Phase 1 costing Sh990 million should also be completed by May 2021 while the Sh970 million Qwetu Chiromo phase 1 will be completed by January 2022.

The students hostel developer earlier this year raised $42.6 million by floating a green bond listed on the Nairobi and London securities exchanges with plans afoot on floating bids for the remaining $7.38 million unsubscribed notes later in the year.

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