Port Elizabeth’s inner-city renewal on track
New inner-city project will see the revamp of Vuyisile Mini Square in front of the Port Elizabeth City Hall linked to the overall face lift of the Baakens River Valley precinct.
The initiative – a collaboration between the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) and a local consortium – is being punted as connecting the inner city to the Port of Port Elizabeth, the Baakens River Valley and the beachfront.
It was presented at a public meeting at the MBDA offices in the Tramways building yesterday. The renovation of the Baakens River Valley precinct – which includes the square – will be in three phases and take five to six years to complete.
Phase one of the massive revamp will start with the square, the second will be walkway connections between the valley and the square, and then developers will move on to renovating the riverside.
The consortium includes Structural Solutions, Imbono FJA Architects and Engineering Advice and Services.
Cary Hastie, of Engineering Advice and Services, said the square – named after struggle veteran Vuyisile Mini – would be a “people’s meeting place” which would double up as a cultural area hosting events and showcases.
“The square needs to be something to be proud of, to be enjoyed by the 1.2-million people of Nelson Mandela Bay and celebrated,” Hastie said, adding that plans were afoot to bring an element of nature back into the inner city.
“Workshops and excursions in the valley have given us some great ideas of what and how to incorporate various natural elements,” he said.
The new-look square would celebrate emancipation and reflect on social justice.
The glow-in-the-dark walkways from the Baakens River to the square will incorporate parts of Route 67, with an emphasis on the section dedicated to the Rivonia Trial.
The first task is to develop the Fleming Street area to sort out parking before moving on to the pedestrian bridge across the Baakens River and the renovation of the river’s edge, which Hastie said would start within the next 12 months.
MBDA planning and development manager Dorelle Sapere said the development of the Baakens Valley precinct and Vuyisile Mini Square was a priority project and was one not completed during renovations to Govan Mbeki Avenue.
With 30% of the budget earmarked for local SMME involvement, Sapere said the MBDA continued to promote local participation.
“Unskilled labour must first come from Central [and] this will be monitored once the contractor has been selected,” she said.
Tenders would open tomorrow, with work set to start in January or February, she said.
Posters of the envisioned square and precinct are on display at the Tramways building for the next 30 days for the public to view and comment on.