R4m Baakens Park Walkway to improve safety, visitor experience to city’s green lung

Issued by Mandela Bay Development
Johannesburg, Feb 7, 2024

The Mandela Bay Development Agency will, on Thursday, 8 February, begin a series of information sharing meetings with stakeholders, residents and business within and around the lower Baakens about the soon-to-launch Park Walkway improvement.

In 2014, the MBDA launched the Baakens Masterplan, a product of extensive stakeholder engagement and public participation at the time. The plan envisages several capital and urban regeneration initiatives that have since repositioned the Baakens as a developing economic node and home of the MBDA headquarters, the Tramways building.

Hot on the heels of the popular St Peters heritage project nearing completion, the new addition, the Baakens Park Walkway, is one of the projects that were identified in the original Masterplan. The Parkway is intended to provide a safe and appealing walkway that links the valley to the Baakens pedestrian bridge into the heart of the city. The scope of works includes the construction of new kerbing, installation of new road signage and the installation of area lighting for public walkways.

In August 2023, an Economic Impact study by Urban Economics revealed that R265 million in public and private sector investment in the Baakens Valley has generated an additional R950 million in production by businesses in the area and 1 133 direct and indirect job full-time jobs.

The report further indicated that the economic impacts of investments in the lower Baakens precinct also include a R163 million rise in total household income and a R310 million contribution to national GDP, the Baakens Valley Economic Barometer found.

The R265 million invested in the lower valley over the past 10 years includes R204 million by the public sector (the MBDA and the NMB municipality) in road and environmental upgrades, the Tramways Building revamp, the pedestrian Unity Bridge over the Baakens River, and redevelopment of the historic St Peter’s Church precinct.

Private sector investment has totalled R61 million on building redevelopments and new construction, while more than three-quarters of businesses in the area have invested a further R15.3 million in upgrades to their premises. Almost half of Baakens Valley businesses were positively influenced by the MBDA’s investments in the area to make improvements to their own premises over the past five years.

The research, conducted for the MBDA by development economist Urban-Econ, identified 60 businesses operating in the valley, together contributing R94 million to the metro’s GDP and employing close to 800 people.

Speaking at the launch of the study in August, MBDA CEO Anele Qaba said: “The Baakens Valley redevelopment has had a positive impact on addressing traffic congestion and derelict buildings and has brought new people into the area to invest, work and play, proving that the MBDA’s work was positively influencing the market and business decisions.

“That is our role as a public sector development entity, to provide the stimulus that promotes confidence in the market and has a catalytic effect, creating an environment conducive for the private sector to invest and thereafter, the market must do its job, and that is exactly what has happened,” Qaba concluded.

Locals and business in the area are invited to look out for notices to information meetings to understand how the construction phase is likely to impact the area in the short term, and to get first-hand information about the steps that will be taken to minimise disruptions.