Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Developing Kingston's waterfront

Published:Thursday | September 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM


The Tower Street prison, a remnant of colonialism and an architectural relic, has long passed its useful life. Buildings like that with their brick masonry walls and stone floors belong on heritage tours for history buffs. However, the Government is planning on putting even more money into it.

This decision is an irrational one, but it appears we cannot do better. The Government, to whom security falls, has no money to build a new prison. Worst yet, they have no ideas or plans.

The futile daily operations by our Government are the most depressing evidence, seeing them unable to devise a method to govern or a means of motivating our vibrant population to coalesce to a vision of our collective future.

I would like to propose an idea to the Government, whichever one is in power, regarding the Tower Street facility. This facility should be made into a museum of Jamaican history. This would be a natural history museum, chronicling our journeys from the slave-trading nations of Africa and Europe to modern-day Jamaica (a tourist attraction). In addition to this, there should be a master plan for the entire waterfront, to include a performance art centre at the other end of the strip beside the present Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries site, new hotels, commercial office space, and residential spaces.

I know this is a lot for politicians to absorb, to even conceive how this can be done, especially since the time to conceive and execute such a plan will surpass the political five-year term. The truth is, however, that the land on which the prison sits and all the other underutilised buildings on the waterfront are worth much more than the buildings sitting on them. And the truth is that the longer they remain in that condition, the less the money that can be collected from economic activity can be generated from it.

Since the Jamaican governments over the years have no vision, perhaps the Chinese will pick up the ball and do something with it. It might be the biggest China Town outside of Beijing.