Whether you need to pop to town, the beach, shopping, work or play, this vibey area is central to everything.
Port Elizabeth-born musician, Claire Venn, has lived in the beautiful area of Central for almost all of her adult life, and absolutely loves living in this vibey part of town. “Central is many things – quiet isn’t one of them. I love how no matter what time of day or night it is, there’s always something happening. That constant hum and vibey atmosphere is what living in the inner city is all about,” says Claire.
According to Claire, the biggest drawcard of the area is that everything is so close. “Central isn't called central for no reason. Everything is always just five minutes away. Whether you need to pop to town, the beachfront, Newton Park or Walmer, for shopping, errands, work or play, everything is just a few minutes’ drive away.”
The 34-year-old singer says she’s always loved the architecture and character of the beautiful old houses in the area. The wooden floors, high ceilings and classic “quirkiness” found in the homes in Central lend themselves to creativity.
Claire says you can never judge these houses from the outside. “It looks like a quirky cottage from the street, but in reality it’s a lot larger than one would think. We’re very fortunate in that we have a relatively large garden for a home in this area as well as plenty off-street parking. These are two of the downsides to the area, garden and garages/parking areas are rare. We’re lucky enough to have ample of both,” she says.
Over the past few years Central has been going through an upgrade. The development of Route 67 and the upgrading of the opera house as well as the many art galleries in the area have also contributed to uplifting the arts and culture in the CBD. Central is probably one of the most culturally diverse areas in PE, lending itself to being the perfect “hub” and a true representation of the melting pot of arts and culture that PE boasts.
“When we first moved here, there were more properties in disrepair than not. It's been so awesome to witness the work that has gone in to the upliftment of the area,” says Claire. While there is still a lot that needs to be done, there has been a significant increase in the number of buildings being restored to their former glory. “Seeing so many gorgeous buildings being restored and utilised has been tremendous. I get so excited every time I see someone starting work on a building that has been in ruins for so many years. There has also been a significant increase in security. A lot of work, energy and money has gone into making this previously notoriously dangerous part of the city much safer for residents and tourists alike.”
Claire Venn’s favourite things about Central:
- The Donkin Reserve: the flag, the art, the view all invoke a sense of pride and love for our PE.
- The beautiful old churches. We’re surrounded by them. The Sunday morning bells.
- The stretches of multicoloured terraced homes in Alfred Terrace leading down in to Constitution Hill and The Donkin Village. Just gorgeous!
Things you may not know about Claire:
- She’s a mom to three rescued pets – two dogs and a cat.
- Other than her two years abroad, she’s always lived in Port Elizabeth.
- When she’s not rehearsing or performing, she loves spending time in her garden or working on some kind of project such as knitting, macrame or garden/home DIY.
Claire’s favourite places to eat:
- Villa Bhorghese in Pearson Street: for Italian food
- Ethiopian Kitchen: for authentic Ethiopian food
- Stage Door: for great food and a fun atmosphere
Central is a hive of life and activity
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.