Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Downtown redevelopment project in full swing, says mayor - Williams notes investors running after real estate

Published:Wednesday | August 14, 2019 | 12:14 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Mayor Delroy Williams
Mayor Delroy Williams

The ongoing downtown redevelopment project has been taking shape to the satisfaction of Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams.

Williams, who was speaking with The Gleaner on Monday, said a number of persons have expressed interest in acquiring property downtown, and that was a positive sign.

The mayor said major renovation projects carried out by some companies have been inspiring many others who have been showing interest in properties.

“The redevelopment is something that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) is pursuing with vigour. There is a plan that is ongoing and aspects of that plan are being implemented, spearheaded by the Urban Development Corporation. We are in weekly dialogue with all agencies involved,” Williams said.

“You are seeing structures going up. If you look at Water Lane and Port Royal Street, there is major renovation. There are persons calling us every day asking for properties to buy, which is a good sign, because it signals that the business community now has a serious interest in downtown, which is good for us. The more buildings we get up and renovated, the more other business persons take interest in acquiring properties and developing those properties.”

The mayor insisted that the project is not moving slowly, but authorities are going along with caution.

“What we don’t want is to rush things and five years down the line, you have regrets. We have to put careful thought to the design,” he said.

The KSAMC, according to Williams, is looking very closely at carrying out major renovations at the Pearnel Charles Arcade. Also, he has been pushing for the Coke Methodist Church to receive a facelift.

“The church needs painting and you have to understand the importance of inspiring people and to build their confidence.”

One group that is usually prominent throughout downtown Kingston are the vendors, who move around freely and frequently in a disorderly manner. Williams said they must understand that for business to thrive, order must exist. He was adamant that they will not be left out of the big plans.

“The vendors can’t say that the mayor is not their friend. So far we have reached out to vendors because we understand their role in keeping the city vibrant. We have to make sure we maintain what Kingston is known for. We do not plan to change the character of the city because it is unique. Vendors are a part of our history but they must understand the importance of order. Order is important to gain more customers and be successful,” he said.