Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Driven by a bold determination to witness the day when nightlife returns in its full glow to the downtown Kingston commercial district, businessman John Thompson's sight is set on completing his multifaceted entertainment centre to pulsate in the heart of the historic area.
Not far from the Kingston Harbour on West Street, the centre, lavishly decorated with plants, is called 'Forever Young'.
It boasts a sports bar; restaurant; games' room; and a nightclub. And if you are keen on just 'chilling' or 'cooling out', two balconies are set aside with glass floor in some sections from you can watch the action.
Thompson hopes to build a parking lot in front of the West Street complex and an overhead gateway that would take people to and from their motor vehicles, without touching the street.
For Thompson, his vision of a bright downtown is proof of his abiding faith in the area even in the most challenging of times. It is for this reason, he says, that he envisions a one-of-a-kind gem inside the diamond in the rough that is the downtown commercial district.
"I want to see downtown return to the glory days of my youth," said the 60-year-old businessman, who operates several entities in the district. "I am not giving up in spite of the challenges," he added.
"My vision is to make the centre comparable to the best in other sections of the island. The people of downtown Kingston deserve this and those who live near and far should be able to enjoy downtown, not only in the daytime but at nights as well."
Thompson said it is his abiding faith in downtown that drives his seemingly endless energy to breathe new life into the area where he has worked since he left Cedar Grove in St Catherine in 1969 at age 16.
The owner of pig and chicken farms in St Catherine, Thompson says he produces meat primarily for his downtown operations.
He notes that although he produces pork and chicken, a the range of items is available in the restaurant, while the bar stocks anything you want to drink.
He is in the process of installing mega panels to sections of the entertainment centre to ensure that its energy supply is entirely solar driven.
Apart from the regular performers at the centre, who literally light up the place on a nightly basis, Thompson says he has a staff complement of 16 and growing.