I was in a place milling with hundreds of people walking from window to window with an animated excitement that obviously could not be contained. A child, giddy with excitement over a new toy, is the only way I could describe the faces of the people streaming in and out of the Garden City Mall.
This was the day it opened, May 28th, on Thika Road. The mall is filled with a surprisingly large number of people from its very first day. It seems people were really waiting for the biggest mall in East Africa to open.
As I entered the gates that lead into the mall with my dad and younger brothers in tow, the signs that had been displayed all over the city of Nairobi advertising the new mall came to mind. I couldn’t help but anticipate the discovery of what all the fuss was about, and determine for myself if this place was really going to be a gem for Nairobi.
The mall was scheduled to open last December, but the developer pushed the date forward by five months. Phase one of the project involved the development of 33,000 sqm of retail space, 76 two and three bedroom apartments, and town houses. On final completion in 2017, the 32 acre mixed-use development will feature 50,000 sqm of retail space, 420 apartments and town houses, 120 key business hotels and a three acre park.
The Garden City Mall will progressively become home to about 120 local and global retail brands, including Game, Nakumatt, KFC, Domino’s Pizza, and Cold Stone Creamery. When we got in we realized that many of the stores were not open yet, which is customary for a recently opened mall, but there are still a few sights within the Mall that make it worth checking out.
One of the biggest attractions would probably be the new GAME store, which is a subsidiary of South African retailer Massmart. This supermarket has everything you could possibly need and want in a day’s worth of shopping. From simple everyday shopping needs like milk, bread,cereal, to a crazy variety of electronics such as earphones, laptops, hard drives, PlayStation, and even to outdoor gear such as camping tents sleeping bags, not to mention exercise equipment in all sizes and shapes. It’s was no wonder we couldn’t pass by a row in the store without bumping into people, the crowds were that large!
Another finished attraction was the playground outside the mall. With slides and sandpits, this place will have your children begging you to bring them back to this mall over and over again while you do your monthly shopping. Judging from my five year old brother’s reaction –he did not want to go home- they will not be able to get enough of it. They playground is also right outside a sitting area so you can watch your kids have a bit of fun in the sun while you chat with a friend or two.
The mall also seems to have security measures and precautions seriously. Obviously with the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya it makes sense that this huge mall has security guards all over the place.
One more thing you will probably not have to worry about here is parking space. With the large compound, the area reserved for parking is so wide that it could possibly fit more than a few hundred cars. The lawns besides the parking space are manicured beautifully, and even if you were forced to wait in the car for someone doing their shopping, it still would be a sight for sore eyes.
The Garden City Mall actually joins a host of upcoming shopping complexes along Thika Road such as Kenyatta University’s Unicity, Juja City Mall, TRM, and Ananus Mall which began sprouting after the expansion of the Thika Road Highway. This has also caused Thika Road to attract several big dollar residential developments such as, Tatu City, Thika Greens, and Migaa Golf Estate, amongst others.
From my experience and the information on what’s coming up soon, The Garden City Mall is definitely an experience worth your time. It possibly may become one of Nairobi’s finest attractions. Discover it before the rest of the world does.
Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.