The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) and Kingston Creative is to forge a strategic alliance as both entities partner to develop an improved Central Business District in downtown Kingston.
With a renewed focus on urban renewal, stakeholders believe the partnership will not only leverage UNESCO’s designation of Kingston as a Creative City of Music, but through its development, also open up a new wave of economic and social benefits for residents, communities and businesses.
The partnership seeks to further the objectives of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Jamaica’s Vision 2030. This, as it drives a regeneration of the space, one that will accelerate innovation and monetise the city’s overall global competitiveness.
Hinged to a rich, vibrant cultural history, the city of Kingston, particularly the downtown area which has suffered from years of underdevelopment, is now heavily targeted for increased development with a slew of new projects expected to be rolled out in the coming months. Following investments by entities such as PanJam through its recent ROK Hotel expansion and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the city of Kingston’s steady investment in transforming Water Lane and its environs into a tourism hub, momentum is building to transform the infrastructure, buildings, public art and green spaces of downtown into a ‘Block of Excellence’ in the heart of capital city.
Commenting on the partnership, the JCC said that with much of its members being headquartered in downtown Kingston for generations, the chamber was passionate and excited about the redevelopment.
“Our organisation is made up of businesses and professionals working together to ensure the most favourable environment for the effective and profitable operation of businesses, and to build and promote a healthy economy and improve the quality of life in Jamaica.
“We see partnerships between the third sector and private sector as critical to success. Ultimately, our hope is that the downtown Kingston area will become an inclusive and inspiring space to live and work, and a shining example of what civil society and corporate cooperation can achieve,” JCC President Ian Neita said.
Both entities partnering in the project share the view that everyone is deserving of an opportunity to enjoy a safe, livable and prosperous city. As such, the objective of the partnership is to therefore develop an exemplary area between Tower Street and Ocean Boulevard which will be a pilot project that shows how art, creative placemaking, infrastructure upgrades and urban regeneration can improve the space in which citizens are able to live, work and play.
Non-profit organisation Kingston Creative, which has long put muscle behind the emergence of an art district downtown, will have its efforts strengthened as more stakeholders join the cause in transforming the city as a regional hub for creatives.
“Our vision is that Kingston is the creative capital of the Caribbean. As an NGO, our mission is to help creatives succeed by providing the necessary training, resources, and environment, so that they can create economic and social value, gain access to global markets and have a positive impact on their local communities,” commented Doris Gross, director and art district lead.
“This partnership with the JCC will start to visibly demonstrate what the city of Kingston can become, and hopefully everyone will be inspired to get involved in restoring the heart of Kingston,” she added.