Port Elizabeth, 13 April 2017 – The revamped Tramways building in Port Elizabeth has proved to be a major catalyst to economic development and has livened up the Baakens Valley.
The R40million investment in the rejuvenation and redevelopment by the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) has hosted more than 40 000 visitors, held close to 100 events attended by numerous people in just one year since opening its doors.
“There is a lot of demand out there for big venues and this building provides a unique advantage whereby the client can create their own masterpiece with the open space. A lot of people have been disappointed that most of the dates are already booked from last year and we are busy with 2018 booking already,” said Luvuyo Bangazi, MBDA spokesperson.
The shell of the double-volume building had been retained, with brick and timber windows in place of steel to honour the once working bus shed, with modern materials. The exterior of the building, particularly on the Baakens Street and Lower Valley Road side, was restored to its original design.
The Tramways offers four floor spaces to hire. The exhibition hall boasts a 1000 square meter floor space, the foyer area offers almost 200 square meters, there is a 16 seater boardroom, and the latest addition is a new Left Wing which is about 300 square meters.
Traders at the Tramways agree that the venue has added value to their investment.
Grant Foong the owner of Foong’s said, “As a small caterer trading during the Valley Market, the Tramways has given us a platform to show off what we can do. The venue itself provides a more professional environment and gives credibility to traders operating from there.”
Freddy of Frederick & Son, a gourmet boerie stand, said the Tramways building has “definitely added value to our initiative”. “It is a showcase building that represents what is happening in the valley – the repurposing of the old for the use and enjoyment of our community. With our involvement in the Valley Market and the Good Night Market every month, we have enjoyed the building and witnessing the public making use of something that has been given new life. This building sets the tone for our valley and creates interest in what is happening here,” he said.
The venue offers different spaces that bring people together from all walks of life through commerce, technology, entertainment, arts/creativity and development.
Bangazi adds “We have hosted many memorable and dynamic events like the Singles Soiree in March, NMB Fashion Week in October, Mainstream Crew Car Show and Markfees. We also had The VW Naledi Awards with directors from all over the country, Pam Golding had their Golden Club Awards here, as part of the NMB Summer Season programme 2016 we hosted Vusi Nova in December, Zemvelo Hair and Beauty Festival celebrating black natural hair, among others.”
The monthly Valley Market started hosting its events in the building a year ago – the Valley Markets are held every first Saturday of the month; The Goodnight Market takes place every third Thursday of the month; The Katoshan Karate frequently use the venue for training sessions; and Karate competitions are held here regularly.
“What is most exciting for us is the catalytic nature of this investment which has led to a number of property upgrades in the valley, new eatery and lifestyle establishments, youth skills development initiatives, new and unique events ranging from food truck to motoring festivals. We also know that the valley has not yet reached its potential and that makes us excited at what the future holds,” concludes Bangazi.
The current tenants at the Tramways building include the MBDA and The Wilderness Foundation Africa, who runs a development school in the hospitality industry for youth.
Upcoming events include:
• Kitibella Shoe Launch Party on 26 April;
• I Love PE Wine Show from 12-13 May
• Marktfees in September;
• East Cape Championships for CrossFit and fitness facilities in September; and
• the NMB Fashion week in October
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