NEW York, USA - The hilltop town of Highgate in St Mary may get a new shopping complex soon.
New York-based Jamaican developer Alfred Steadman said in an interview here that a site has already been acquired for the complex and that some preliminary work, such as soil testing, have already been completed.
The St Mary native said that clearing of the site is set to begin later this year or as soon as approval is obtained from the St Mary parish council and other relevant government agencies. Steadman said that the complex, which will comprise 46 shops, will cost around US$4 million and will be "completed in the shortest possible time." He said that there is already "a tremendous demand for rental of shops in the complex".
Highgate is the commercial hub for several outlaying districts in Central and South East St Mary.
Like other sections of the north-eastern parish, the town is saddled with high unemployment, a situation Steadman is hoping the shopping complex "will help alleviate.'
St Mary has for decades been ranked among the poorest parishes in Jamaica. St Mary — considered the tenth largest parish, with an approximate area of 610 square kilometres — was once a major agricultural producer and formerly a leading contributor to the Jamaican economy. But over the past few decades the parish has suffered serious economic decline, which many believe is due to the collapse of the parish's main economic activities, including the decline in banana, coconut and sugar production.