Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Following the renovation of the Coronation Market, it's time for the nearby Redemption Market to get a facelift.
The Digicel Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will spearhead the renovation, supported by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).
The US$500,000 project, funded by a grant from the USAID, is expected to be done in time for the usually busy Christmas season. Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke said the redevelopment was just one step in the KSAC's overall plans for the downtown commercial district.
"There is a plan ahead that we have about the redevelopment of downtown and in fact the market and business district is a central part of that plan," Brown Burke said. "Yes, I know downtown Kingston is not Kingston but it is a big part of making Kingston a different place to live."
She noted that vendor groups were consulted when the design for the market, done by the UDC, was drawn up.
"We want to ensure that there is a participatory approach to governance. We believe that's how we're going to get the buy-in, that's how we're going to get the sustainability."
Lisa Lewis, chair of the Digicel Foundation, said the project would assist in achieving the objective of helping downtown "reclaim its status as the primary hub here in the capital".
"Historically, downtown has always been a commercial centre. There is the great need for appropriate structures for our customers and vendors alike ... this market project like the renovation of Coronation (market) seeks to address that need," she said.
USAID Mission Director Denise Herbol said the new market would provide employment and produce income opportunities for the surrounding communities. She was especially hopeful for the small businesses.
supporting small business
"Frankly, I believe supporting small business is the way to grow a community," she said. The market will provide about 120 spaces at the West Queen Street market, some of which have been taken by vendors who were using the market for storage. Brown Burke said some illegal vendors in other sections of the market district were getting regularised as they vied for spaces.
"We've all been talking about illegal vending and what is happening on the streets. So we find legal spaces for those who would like to join the trade," she said.
Brown Burke also said areas had been identified to supply more parking spaces for the market district but promised more details later. She said she was determined to ensure that December was going to be a pleasant experience for shoppers.