The historic residence was given to Prime Minister Joma Kenyatta by the Aga Khan, its previous owner, as a fully furnished residence, a week before Independence on December 12, 1963.
In May, the Presidency confirmed to the Star that the First Family had moved into State House to allow for a security upgrade and facelift to their private home on expansive property in Caledonia Estate.
A concrete wall, high-tech electric fence, bulletproof windows and a state-of-the-art alarm system are among the security features.
Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said at that time the renovations were being funded privately. The Star has now established the new structure will be a state-of-the-art residence protected by formidable physical barriers and the latest technology.
“Going by world standards, the President must be as secure anywhere he goes as he is inside State House, one of the country’s most secure locations,” a source familiar with the project said.
The President opted to demolish the old residence and construct a new one for an estimated Sh700 million, sources familiar with the project said. The new residence will have spacious underground parking, offices and a kitchen. The ground floor will have a living room and dining room, kitchen and more offices. The first floor will contain three spacious bedrooms and other rooms.
The President is keen the residence, which shares a fence with State House, be completed by December this year, insiders said.
The construction site is heavily guarded by the General Service Unit and only authorised workers are admitted. The identity of the contractor was not disclosed.
The President is said to have requested a large lounge to accommodate a large number of guests and delegations that visit him privately
Yesterday, State House did not respond to our enquiries. It is not unusual for a President’s private residence to get a major security upgrade, especially when terror threats have escalated. Since taking office in April 2013, Uhuru has preferred to live in his private home, using State House as his office.
The only State Houses and Lodges where the President has spent the night are Mombasa and Sagana, which is preferred after Nairobi.
Uhuru is not the first President to prefer living in his private home — his father commuted from his Gatundu home for almost 15 years.
The first President is said to have never spent a night at State House as it was “haunted by the ghosts of the colonial governors”.
Kenya’s second president and Uhuru’ political mentor Daniel Moi also preferred to live in his Kabarnet Gardens home in Nairobi. President Mwai Kibaki lived at State House, Nairobi, for 10 years.