(Port Elizabeth) – Nelson Mandela Bay’s newest creative hub is fast gaining traction.
Once a derelict eyesore in Port Elizabeth’s central business district, the rise of the Donkin Creative Quarter is becoming a shining example of how private developers can work with the city on urban renewal projects which benefit residents and businesses alike.The fast-paced gentrification of Central’s Donkin Street and Constitution Hill has seen the complete restoration of the famed Donkin Row houses, and the near-completion of the cobbling of Constitution Hill street and pavements, giving the quarter a distinct pedestrian feel.
But it is the quarter’s attraction of entrepreneurs which is breathing new life into the area and fostering a creative energy among the city’s growing businesses.
Tenants at the quarter since January, the Good News Lab public relations agency draws daily inspiration from being located in the hub of the city, according to owner Brian Hayward.
“This space is energising. As a business, you’re in the centre of town and get to feel a distinct patriotism. Perhaps it’s looking onto the beautiful Donkin Reserve with the tallest flagpole and largest South African flag in the country, or the fact that there is a beautiful sense of pride and constant gentrification going on around us,” Hayward says.
For fellow tenant, lauded photographer Karl Schoemaker, owner of Work at Play photography and design, inspiration also came from the sense of community derived from being among fellow creatives in the area.
“There is a sense of community and collaboration among my neighbours that is growing daily,” says Schoemaker. “This ‘village’ phenomenon gives me hope because it promotes common decency, politeness, and friendship. It is also a safe and honest community. These are aspects which are notably absent from the increasingly ‘connected’ world we live in.”
SimonSays advertising agency owner Simon Le Gras agrees.
“The Donkin Creative Quarter has been our home for just short of a year. We’ve watched the area around us transform in a sandy hum of construction and excitement which has rippled into our creative energy and passion,” says Le Gras. “Our work space promotes collaboration and big thinking. We can’t help but feel proud as we watch this area develop into what promises to be the epicentre of Nelson Mandela Bay.”