Major facelift for Esplanade, Waterworld as metro reveals plans to activate tourism

Despite the failure of proposals to revitalise the East London beachfront in past years, the Buffalo City Metropolitan Development Agency (BCMDA) has revealed a new plan to activate tourism by giving the drab Esplanade and ramshackle Waterworld zones a facelift.

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This week, BCMDA CEO Gcinumzi Qotywa said the agency, which was formed a year ago, was “busy with costing” and would only be in a position to reveal the cost of the expansive plans at a later stage.

However, spokeswoman Ruweida Naina did reveal that the city had allocated R30-million for the upgrading of the Waterworld water park and was also counting on additional investment from both the private and government sector.

With the proposal in its conceptual stages, Naina was not able to pinpoint when construction would begin, but said a projected timeline for the upgrades would be three years.

She said parcels of municipal public open spaces along the Esplanade would be developed in collaboration with MDA Consultants, a consortium of specialists who will be responsible for the design and implementation of a precinct plan for the beachfront stretching from Marina Glen to Waterworld.

An advisory steering committee would consult with potential investors and the public about their development preferences.

The agency announced its plans to develop the city’s tourism infrastructure earlier this month and plans include:

lUpgrading the Waterworld precinct into a complex, including a proposed four-star hotel on its east side and a camping site with chalets on the west. Tree-lined avenues will link the facilities which will all access an “ocean pool”;

lThe expansion is also to extend to the adjacent race track, which will be upgraded;

lAlthough plans for the Quigney beachfront are still in their “infancy stages”, according to Naina, they include mixed land use at three erfs at Marina Glen, which would include business and residential accommodation, as well as a multi-use park at Court Crescent, including facilities for skateboarding, a kids’ play area, outdoor gym, amphitheatre and a maze;

lSeaview Terrace being re-zoned for tourist accommodation;

lAn upgrade of the Esplanade pedestrian walkway with enhanced lighting, trees, shrubs, bollards and benches, as well as informative signage, traffic control and parking, art and landscaping; and

lThe East London Aquarium, which sustained major infrastructure damage this week due to powerful waves, would possibly be relocated to Heroes Park to develop a proposed ocean discovery centre. — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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