Sun | Feb 23, 2020

Letter of the Day | Repurpose downtown buildings for urban revival

Published:Tuesday | September 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Ever wonder why downtown Kingston is so dormant after hours? Why the capital city has remained relatively unattractive, despite new construction?

Well, the answer may rest in the underutilisation of its older buildings. While it is obvious that downtown Kingston has many historic buildings with value that are worthy of preservation and continuous maintenance, many have been left to die a slow death.

However, with increased emphasis on establishing downtown Kingston as a destination, these buildings could form part of the main magnetic attractions that pull heritage tourism to the older sections of Kingston. For this to be possible, these buildings will have to be repurposed in order to fully exploit their tourism potential.

In fact, a number of these buildings can easily be retrofitted to be reused as an urban higher-education campus, museums and concert halls.

Every major capital city in the world has a university name for them. For example, in London, England, there is the University of London; Washington, DC, United States, has the University of District of Columbia; and Ottawa, Canada, has the University of Ottawa. Kingston, Jamaica, has no university named for its capital city.

Part of the repositioning of Kingston as a major western hemispheric hub should be the establishment of an urban university campus in downtown Kingston. Called the University of Kingston-University College (UK-UC), heading eastwards, the downtown campus would be located in the buildings to the right on Harbour Street between Mark Lane and Duke Street. It would be established through collaboration between University of Technology, The Mico University College, and the University of the West Indies via a consortium.

Downtown Kingston is packed with economic potential. However, we must find resources to improve and repurpose the older buildings. Retrofitting some of these buildings to be reused as an urban higher-education campus, museums and concert halls could be the catalyst for intensifying its development


Washington, DC