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Holness calls for stronger push to monetise culture

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2022 | 12:11 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right) breaks ground for the construction of a 30-home residential community with (from left) Pulse Investments Chairman Kingsley Cooper and co-managing directors Romae Gordon and Safia Cooper at Villa Ronai in St Andr
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right) breaks ground for the construction of a 30-home residential community with (from left) Pulse Investments Chairman Kingsley Cooper and co-managing directors Romae Gordon and Safia Cooper at Villa Ronai in St Andrew on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has bemoaned that not enough local professionals are cashing in on Jamaica’s culture as he made a rallying cry for more people to join the orange economy.

He was speaking on Wednesday at a ground-breaking ceremony for a 30-home residential community being developed by Pulse Investments Ltd at Villa Ronai in St Andrew.

The complete development, which is being led by the company’s Property and Leisure Division, will provide a total of 100 homes at a value of $6 billion.

In his keynote address, Holness praised Pulse Chairman Kingsley Cooper for his tenacity and commitment in the fashion industry, referring to him as a pioneer in the field who has revolutionised the company by pursuing other business endeavours while tying in what Pulse is fundamentally about.

But he lamented that many professionals were not making the most out of the potential of the industry.

“Unfortunately, we talk very highly of our culture and our art forms, but we have never really and truly made the transition of seeing them as an industry that can be monetised,” he said.

Holness further said that a balance has to be found in maintaining high cultural value while also finding ways to reap economic advantages.

“We need more people to monetise our culture because, believe me, other people are monetising our culture daily,” he said.

Holness further highlighted that while infrastructure improvements were welcomed, there was a larger issue that needed to be addressed – the necessity to maintain built structures to prevent urban squalor.

“If you drive through Kingston ... or wherever you do in Jamaica, you will immediately recognise that much of our built structure is dated. Relative to other comparable countries in the region, our infrastructure is a little bit old,” he said.

Through building up the environment and keeping up with maintenance standards, however, Holness noted that the quality of life for Jamaicans can improve.

“So, this process of constantly reinvesting in your real estate ... not just building new buildings but regenerating the buildings that have been there [is] a very important process,” the prime minister said.

He also made an appeal to the private sector to do more to assist in meeting the country’s housing needs.

The official opening of the recently completed 70-unit lifestyle village – which includes one- and two-bedroom houses, studios, commercial spaces, restaurants, lounges, offices, event spaces, among other amenities at the Old Stony Hill Road property – was held in conjunction with the ground-breaking.

The Villa Ronai lifestyle village accommodates short-stay guests and tenants who can lease for up to a year.

The 30 new units are scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Pulse, in looking towards further expansion in the real estate sector, has acquired an additional neighbouring five acres of property intended for future developments, in addition to the nine acres Villa Ronai currently sits on.

The grounds of the Villa Ronai were said to have “good energy” because of the abundance of Jamaica’s flora, according to Romae Gordon, managing director for fashion at Pulse.

“Our business is rich with enormous possibilities in real estate ..., but also in the creative space, where we can produce and export exceptional content,” she added of Pulse.

Established in 1940 and going on to become an internationally famous tourist attraction in the 1960s and ‘70s, Villa Ronai was restored by Cooper in the 1990s.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com