End of an era, start of a new opportunity

Sun International's Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth. Picture: THE HERALD
Sun International's Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth. Picture: THE HERALD

When the Boardwalk opened its doors to the public more than 20 years ago, it was to much excitement and glee. Over the years, thousands of jobs were created and it provided a space for entertainment for the whole family.

It truly became a popular leisure destination for residents and tourists. But over the years its popularity began to dwindle, particularly as the city’s other shopping malls such as Baywest  began to improve their offerings as  one-stop shopping and leisure centres.

Businesses closed their doors and new ones opened up, with the development of a luxury hotel and conference centre later joining the list of things on offer at the Boardwalk over the years.

The new retail development has been in the pipeline for years, and it appears it will finally become a reality as the iconic lake at the centre will be drained from next week.

It has been a fixture at the Boardwalk since it opened its doors, hosting floating concerts as well as an assortment of aquatic birds and colourful koi fish, much to the delight of many young children over the years.

While it may be a little sad to see the lake replaced by a retail hub, it may be exactly what is needed to get the once-buzzing entertainment centre bustling with foot traffic again.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown, the Boardwalk has not been spared by the devastating effects on the businesses operating in the centre.

When this newspaper visited the Boardwalk this week, the team saw little activity, with a few shops closed until further notice.

The R500m redevelopment planned for the Boardwalk will bring a much-needed boost to the local economy, creating at least 2,000 jobs during the construction phase and 1,500 permanent employees once completed.

It could not come at a better time.

But its viability and sustainability depends on us. Residents must support local developments where possible in order for our economy to thrive.

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