MoBay needs Portmore-style housing development – Kerr-Jarrett - Developer says western city needs over 30,000 new houses
Prominent Montego Bay land developer and businessman Mark Kerr-Jarrett says a Portmore-like approach to housing development could help to fix Montego Bay’s housing crisis, which is now negatively impacting growth in the tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors.
According to Kerr-Jarrett, Montego Bay is far behind in terms of satisfying the demands for affordable housing as approximately 30,000 additional housing solutions are needed to begin to ease the current demand.
“It is going to take a new approach and the building of a community equivalent to Portmore for Montego Bay and the north coast to address the existing housing crisis,” said Kerr-Jarrett.
Portmore, St Catherine, with a population heading towards 200,000, started out relatively small when West Indies Home Contractors (WIHCON) built the first housing scheme called Independence City, which then consisted of approximately 1,200 two- and three-bedroom houses.
Subsequent to the development of Independence City, the demand for additional housing prompted the development of other communities, such as Bridgeport, Passage Fort, Waterford, Portsmouth and Southborough housing schemes, which have made Portmore the largest formal housing settlement in Jamaica.
Kerr-Jarrett told The Gleaner that for several years he has been pleading with the local authorities and central government to approve a development that would mirror that of Portmore to respond to Montego Bay’s housing needs.
“It is going to take a new approach to address the need for housing in Montego Bay, and we believe the Portmore model would suit us well,” Kerr-Jarrett said. “Winston Dear (another prominent Montego Bay-based land developer) and I have been proposing, for over 20 years, that a housing development should be done in the Adelphi to Martha Brae area.”
Kerr-Jarrett, who is also a quantity surveyor, said that in order to positively respond to the high demand for low-income housing solutions in St James, the Government should look at building a development road from Montego Bay into Trelawny via Adelphi.
“One of the proposals we have made is to set up the Queen of Spain Valley with a development road that goes all the way to Adelphi, Wakefield, Deeside and out at the Martha Brae intersection. You could get about 20,000 to 30,000 homes in there,” said Kerr-Jarrett.
According to him, Montego Bay has the potential to meets its goals of having adequate and affordable housing, but he thinks it will require the Government and the private sector to build at least 1,000 units per year to fall in line with the country’s 2030 vision.