THE Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) says several of its urban renewal projects aimed at redeveloping and attracting private-sector investment to the inner city are on track for this financial year.
According to MBDA chief executive Pierre Voges, Phase 1 of the multimillion- rand transformation of Kings Beach is complete, with Phase 2 set to begin as soon as final design plans are completed.
The beachfront is being transformed into a family-friendly area with picnic spots, walkways and a lake, to attract more tourists to the beachfront.
Voges said Phase 2 would include the beachfront area towards the MacArthur Baths complex. "The contractor is still on site and waiting for the go-ahead from us. Part of the development includes the installation of CCTV cameras.”
Voges said plans were being finalised for the redevelopment of the Tramways building along the Baakens River, which would become a new office building and exhibition centre. The site would also be the MBDA’s new offices.
"Once completed, the building will have about 3500m² of office space available. About 1500m² will be MBDA office space while the remaining space will be available to other businesses. It will not be very flamboyant but rather an industrial warehouse conversion.” Voges said the Tramways building redevelopment, expected to be completed by 2014, was "only one piece of the puzzle” in the facelift of the entire area.
"Contractors are on site as we will also be working on Belmont Terrace and Bird Street to tie in with work we already did with the restoration of the Athenaeum Club. Then we will also complete Phase 4 of the Donkin Reserve, which includes the building of an amphitheatre.”
Voges said the Donkin had become a place for youth to showcase their art and for the city to be proud of. It had also attracted private-sector investment with the renovation of the adjacent Grand Hotel.
He said the MBDA would also soon complete the Strand Street and Uitenhage Market Street upgrades by erecting an art piece on both sites.
"We have demolished the old Mermaids building in Russell Road [for] a rental housing development for students, teachers, nurses and so on who cannot afford to buy property but want to live in the inner city. There was a time when people were moving out of the inner city but now there is a demand again for rental property and this is as a result of our work.
"People want to be close to work again to save on transport costs.”
Voges said the organisation had also completed the R20-million renovation of Strand Street, Jetty Street and the Strand Street taxi rank, which was now more accessible and functional for those making use of public transport to the city.
"We are also taking our first step in moving towards the townships by working on the Helenvale renewal project, including the development of the Thusong Centre and the precinct upgrade.
"Those are set to be completed in May next year with funding from a German development bank.”
Voges said while the CBD looked more attractive it was important to continue work in the city’s townships to instil a sense of pride and confidence among residents.
On rumours about his possibly emigrating, Voges said his plans were not set in stone but he could possibly move abroad in the future. He would not elaborate.
The MBDA also has future projects in the pipeline, although not in this financial year, including:
- The revamp of Western Road, Westbourne Road, Military Road and Rink Street; and
- The upgrade of the area of land around and including Telkom Park.