Issa keen on downtown Kgn transformation
Developer Peter Issa believes that in order for downtown Kingston to return to its former glory, derelict properties need to be restored, which will have a ripple effect on employment and the opening of new businesses, including restaurants.
This, he said, will also form the foundation of prospects for the return of residential properties to the heart of the nation’s capital.
“That’s really the future, but if the private sector does not do enough of a push, then it will never happen. It will happen just at a very slow pace,” Issa, the managing director of Issa Construction Limited, said yesterday as he took The Gleaner on a tour of a commercial building being developed by his firm at the corner of Pechon and Harbour streets in downtown Kingston.
Technology and finance process outsourcing company Beryllium (formerly Guardsman Armoured) will be the tenants of the three-storey building, which will be completed by the end of summer.
Issa said that renovation of the 28,000-square foot facility began about eight months ago.
“We’ve basically taken a derelict building that had no employees, transformed it, and we are bringing a lot of employment to the area and our aim is to do that with other properties downtown. However, it’s difficult when the owners of the properties don’t want to sell, renovate or spend any kind of money to fix up the façade of the building,” he said.
Beryllium was selected following meetings with various interested parties. After an agreement was signed at the start of the year, Issa Construction has been working with the company to tailor the layout to meet its needs.
Beryllium Chief Operating Officer Texroy Grant said the company has been growing rapidly and intends to make the property a landmark location.
“Issa Construction is a well sought-after development company and we thought it would be good to partner with their initiative to revive downtown. We’ve grown out of our current facilities, so we are relocating as well as we are offering new services, so it’s an opportunity for us to offer new employment to additional persons,” Grant said.
Meanwhile, Issa shared that the team is working on creating a ‘Welcome to Downtown’ sign at the front of the building on land currently owned by the Commissioner of Lands.
“This building is the first building that you see when you’re driving in from Marcus Garvey [Drive] and that’s what caught our eye when we were looking at acquiring the property as well,” he said, as he explained the need for the sign.
Issa Construction is also undertaking another project at 109 Water Lane, where it will transform another run-down building into a café.
“I’m not ready to reveal exactly what we’re doing, but what we’re doing is going to be special. It’s going to add to the whole art district vibe and that is slated to be completed for the Christmas time,” Issa said.