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Newton's vision for downtown - Radio boss commits to joining efforts aimed at restoring the city

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Vendors organise themselves along the sidewalk north of St William Grant Park, downtown Kingston. - Photos by Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer
Newton James
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After living and studying for years in London, England, and visiting or working in several other cities around the world, Newton James knows well what an ordered and exciting city should look like.

The trained broadcast engineer and business leader has taken the radio stations that he leads, Power 106FM and Music 99FM, from their uptown home to North Street in the heart of downtown Kingston and he has clear ideas of what he wants that city to look like.

"I would like to see downtown Kingston being the business centre for Jamaica. I would like to see it as a major tourist destination," James told The Gleaner.

"And I would like to see a downtown Kingston that doesn't sleep. A downtown Kingston where there is night life and the streets are busy just like in any other First World city," added James.

He said moving the two stations, which are operated by Independent Radio Company Limited, to downtown Kingston has been nostalgic, with memories of his time in the area in the 1960s.

"I thought, 'How good it would be for us to start an effort to seek to restore the city of Kingston to its former glory'," said James.

enormous importance

The business leader argued that with Kingston being the capital of Jamaica, the downtown area of the capital city should be a major tourist attraction.

He noted that downtown Kingston has an enormous number of important institutions and applauded those who have been leading the efforts to restore the city.

It is an effort that James has vowed to be involved in, with a special eye on the vendors in the city.

"I would like to see the creation of adequate space for our vendors. In fact, I have learnt, since I have been here, a lot about the vending community and how creative these vendors are.

"In the process of restoring Kingston, we perhaps need to rebrand our vendors, calling them 'city entrepreneurs', because they are really serious entrepreneurs," said James.

He noted the importance of well-established flea markets in the major cities around the world and argued that a similar facility should be in downtown Kingston where top-quality products could be had at bargain prices.

"We have to note that vending is an area that provides an opportunity for persons out of work and creates an opportunity for them to survive."