Prior to Kenya’s independence, an expansive coffee farm sat between the present day Kiambu Road and Limuru Road.
The coffee farm was under the ownership of some Britons and was named the Cheleta Farm.
After independence, Cheleta Farm was renamed Runda Farm and its management taken over by three coffee cooperatives.
It was the late Dr. Njoroge Muingai, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Joseph Odwero Jowi, then Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, who lobbied for the global body to establish its offices in Nairobi.
Maurice Strong, a Canadian, was at that time the UN Under Secretary General and had no problem with having the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) establishing its headquarters in Sub Saharan Africa.
The UNEP offices, which were located at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, were moved to their present location in Gigiri in 1975. Three years later in 1978, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements was also relocated to Gigiri.
The location of the Runda farm proved an ideal residential space for the UN employees, owing to its proximity to the offices, the Karura forest and the cool climatic conditions around the area.
This led to a sharp surge in land demands with the coffee cooperatives cashing on this rise, with profits from the sales skyrocketing with time.
The coffee farm was converted to the modern day Old Runda Estate and would over the years attract investors and the country’s richest persons.
Eliud Mathu, Andrew Zagoritis, and Elia Zagoritis were behind the transformation of the Runda Coffee to the modern day posh estate.
The property would later be managed by MAE Properties, a company formed by the three, with the named being drawn from the first letters of their names.
The management later changed ownership to Pan African Life Insurance.
According to Knight Frank, a global property consultancy firm, Runda was listed as one of the world’s ten top real estates.
This is as a result of different international organisations employees and expatriates, including those attached to the United Nations, and the United States Embassy among others, seek residential spaces in the estate.
Prominent figures including politicians, businessmen and global influencers have purchased property in Runda with land cost estimated to be in upwards of Ksh100 million for an eighth of an acre.