MBDA granted funding to develop plan for marina in PE

Rochelle de Kock dekockr@timesmedia.co.za

THE Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) has received a R3.8-million boost from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation to develop a master plan for a marina in the Port Elizabeth Harbour.

A request for proposals will be issued before March for a company to conduct market research to determine the plan for a new port marina precinct.

MBDA spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said the R3.8- million was already in the agency’s bank account and they were currently firming up talks with Transnet to determine which of the entities would manage the request-for-proposal process.

In a report to the economic development, tourism and agriculture portfolio committee, which meets today, MBDA chief executive Pierre Voges said the money would be used for a “well worked out precinct plan”.

“[The plan will] determine the extent and depth of retail, residential, office, leisure, entertainment and tourism development, as well as a physical plan outlay to be rolled out over time.

“That means market research will be done … to determine gaps in the market presently, and also projecting the market to determine gaps in the future. [For example] is the market ready for another hotel? What grade hotel – three, four or five star?

“These are important numbers as they determine the financial viability of a project. Transnet wants to see a viable project and a return on investment.”

Transnet, which owns the land, has partnered with the MBDA on the project.

Voges said the precinct plan would also provide details about the layout of the marina, transport, public areas and parking.

The land that has been eyed for the marina is in the Algoa Bay Yacht Club vicinity, as well as other areas within the harbour.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality initially wanted to use the entire harbour area for a waterfront, but Transnet was reluctant to give it all up because the harbour was still functional.

Transnet officially allocated a section of the harbour for leisure and recreation last year.

Meanwhile, there are also plans to develop the area surrounding the harbour, known as the Port/Baakens precinct between the port and Bridge Street Brewery.

According to Voges, the area is destined to become a “new tourism, leisure and entertainment precinct”.

In his report, he said the metro relied too much on the motor manufacturing and related industry and was “badly developed” in the tourism and entertainment industry.

“To be competitive in this sector it is important to develop tourism real estate, which will make the city more competitive … ,” Voges wrote.

The Tramways building is already being restored and there are plans to develop a pedestrian bridge across the Baakens River.

A foot path will also be developed between the Tramways building and Bridge Street development.

“Capital will also be raised to rehabilitate the river and investigate options to dam up the river through a weir system that will enable the formation of a water body,” Voges said.

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