Reopened shopping complex to boost local commerce in Negril

Observer writer

Friday, November 23, 2018

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A new commercial centre is set to open its doors in the tourist resort of Negril in Westmoreland. The Boardwalk Shopping Village is the brainchild of businessman Richard Wallace, owner of the Boardwalk Village Resort and Hotel on Norman Manley Boulevard in the town.

The well-known hotel is located on the beach side of the popular boulevard, while the commercial centre will be across the street on the landward end. Wallace explains that the centre will provide much needed convenience for residents in the town.

“The centre of Negril where a lot of business activity takes place has become quite crowded,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “Shoppers will be able to avoid the hustle and bustle of the town centre by doing some of their business at the Boardwalk Shopping Village, which is located on the boulevard. There is also a shortage of parking in the town, and the new shopping village will offer ample and secure parking.”

The convenience of the location will be complemented by palm trees and beautifully landscaped grounds in keeping with the touristic ambiance of Negril.

But the most important benefit to residents of the town will derive from the hosting of a range of different businesses in the commercial centre which will fulfil a variety of needs.

“The intention was to create a centre that caters more to the citizens of the town rather than just tourists,” said Wallace. “To that end the location will include a branch of NCB (National Commercial Bank), a supermarket that is part of a popular chain, a dentist's office and a pharmacy.”

Other facilities will include a clothing boutique, gift shops, a cannabis shop for medical marijuana, a bridal store, a flower shop as well as a face and body clinic. Two restaurants will occupy the commercial venue with one of them featuring a sports bar.

Of the 22 commercial spaces that are available only three remain to be rented. The building was previously owned by the Majestic Corporation, but it was shut down for approximately eight years. The property was acquired by Wallace earlier this year and is expected to commence operating by January 2019. With a size of 36,000 square feet, the Boardwalk Shopping Village will be the largest commercial centre in Negril.

Wallace points out that there are a number of challenges existing in Negril, such as very limited space for commercial development in the popular areas of the town as well as aesthetic problems, that have arisen over time. He also alluded to a sense of impatience related to what many residents feel is the slow progress of development in Negril compared to the other popular resort towns.

These challenges and frustrations are what motivated him to move forward with the development of the shopping village. He believes that Jamaicans should boldly pursue their own entrepreneurial ventures in Negril ,which will contribute to the overall growth and improvement of the area.

“This is a sentiment not just held by me but echoed by many Jamaican business people,” Wallace insists. “Many of us believe Jamaicans should be the ones seizing the lion's share of commercial opportunities. We are the ones, more so than the foreign investors, who are most likely to include the development and well-being of our communities as part of our overall business objectives.”

He points out that most of the positive feedback he has received in response to the new commercial centre has to do with the fact that it is being developed by a Jamaican.

In addition to the entities falling under the Boardwalk brand, the Wallace family owns the Jungle Nightclub in Negril and the Negril Escape Hotel (formerly Mariner's Inn) in the west end. He is a vice-president of the Negril Chamber Of Commerce, a counsellor in the Negril chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and he currently sits on the board of the Negril Planning Authority.

His family has been involved in Negril since his father started doing business in the town in the 1970s.

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