Naivasha has attracted yet another multi-billion shilling luxury real estate development project, putting the Rift Valley town among towns that are catching the eye of a growing middle class seeking to have second homes.

The 2,400-acre estate dubbed Longonot Gate is planned to accomodate 3,500 vacation homes, a commercial centre and a golf course. It is the third major such project in the area, developed on the theme of vacation homes and conference facilities.

Its construction is expected to start next month. Construction of Aberdare Hills and Osotua Villas is ongoing, while the great Rif Valley Lodge Resort is complete.

The proponents have master-planned the project site to allow buyers acquire half-acre plots at Sh3.5 million each — an indication that the developers are targeting buyers in the high income segment.

“The project is a gated community situated in a quiet and secure environment designed to offer modern and comfortable living for people who want to live not too far from Nairobi,” said the developers in their environmental impact assessment application.

Naivasha’s proximity to Nairobi, they noted, would provide an ideal retirement location for people working in the city looking for a quiet environment to enjoy sunset years but want to maintain a touch with modern living.

Naivasha town is about 100km from central Nairobi.

Ben Woodhams, the managing director of real estate firm Knight Frank, said the emergence of Naivasha represents a strong indication of a growing demand for second homes by newly rich Kenyans.

He attributes the new homes market to growing income levels and congestion in the main cities, pushing rich people to seek a residence close to their places of work where they could spend weekends.

“The second homes market is growing tremendously in Kenya, and we expect even faster growth with the introduction of fractional home-ownership arrangements,” said Mr Woodhams.

He added that features like lakes, golf courses and wildlife are the magnets for secondary homes across the world, and are available in Naivasha, enhancing its lustre to holiday home buyers.

“There are always features that are magnets for secondary homes which offer a holiday feeling for the buyers,” said the Knight Frank MD.

Nathan Luesby, the managing director of real estate consulting firm, Jenga Web, said Naivasha’s easy accessibility and proximity to Nairobi is a major selling point.

“Many buyers in the town would be people seeking to acquire their second homes, which would most certainly be in a country home,” said Mr Luesby, adding “Naivasha is ideal because one can easily move in and out back to Nairobi.”

The upcoming developments have been designed to copy the Great Rift Valley lodge, which has been successful according to Mr Luesby, where home owners can let when they are away.

Completion of the three major golf estates would place Naivasha as a top destination for real estate investments by wealthy Kenyans, rivaling coastal towns of Kilifi, Malindi and Mombasa that have maintained a lead in luxury homes.

Aberdare Hills, just like Longonot Gate, has been designed to include an 18-hole golf course, a five-star hotel and high-end villas for sale.

Such housing projects centred on the golf estate concept have been conceived in other towns, with the Sh30 billion Illuluwe project near the planned Konza ICT park in Machakos and the Sh40-billion Sergoit Golf Resort in Eldoret among the most prominent yet.