|Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding (centre), breaks ground for the construction of Digicel's global headquarters in downtown Kingston. Sharing the occasion are: Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew, Senator Concillor Desmond McKenzie (right) and Digicel's Chairman, Denis O'Brian.|
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding reaffirmed his intention to aggressively pursue the redevelopment of the downtown Kingston commercial area in 2010.
The initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), is geared towards the refurbishing and upgrading of buildings and facilities in the commercial district.
This plan has already seen the restoration of the St. William Grant Park at Parade, and the refurbishing of sections of the Coronation Market. Both were achieved through support from two of the island’s major telecommunications companies, Digicel and Claro.
The redevelopment plan will feature a new transportation centre on Water Lane; a refurbished Ward Theatre at North Parade; a cultural centre in the vicinity of North Parade, in honour of the South American liberator, Simon Bolivar; and a redeveloped waterfront, to include a new building to house the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Digicel’s global headquarters, and a restored Victoria Pier.
“The Government has a responsibility. We have to provide the planning and the basic facilities and we are working very hard to do that. We have also provided policy support for the private sector,” the Prime Minister said.
Ground was broken on November 30 for the Digicel headquarters by the Prime Minister; Digicel’s Chairman and Founder, Dennis O’Brien; Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Colm Delves and Jamaica CEO, Mark Linehan.
The project is due for completion in 2012 and some 1,200 persons are expected to be employed at the complex.
It will be located on some 210,000 square feet of land. An 11-storey building will be constructed, with a 7,000 square foot food court and an 11,000 square foot two-storey ancillary building over a basement car park.
The project will not only create direct employment opportunities during and after construction, but indirect employment for thousands of vendors, transport operators and small businesspersons, many of whom have suffered immensely from the drift to more modern conveniences in uptown locations, like New Kingston.
The Digicel project is also expected to set the tone for an environmentally friendly new downtown setting, by utilising solar and wind power, as well as geothermal cooling systems to reduce energy consumption and eliminate the use of potable water and unsightly cooling towers.