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.
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.”
The venue offers different spaces that bring people together from all walks of life through commerce, technology, entertainment, arts/creativity and development.
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.
“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.