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Palisadoes strip to be transformed into entertainment zone

BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment browni@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 12, 2014    

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THE state minister with responsibility for entertainment, Damion Crawford, said seven possible spots have already been identified along the Palisadoes strip in Kingston to establish entertainment venues for what has been identified as Jamaica's first entertainment zone.

Crawford said now that the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has identified the possible venues along the route to the Norman Manley International Airport, the next step will be to continue the conversation with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to ensure that what is put in place conforms with environmental requirements.

"One conversation we are having now is we might not be capable of having permanent sewerage but instead to have removal of sewage each day because of environmental protection realities; we don't intend to have a zone and everybody build what they feel and how they feel," the junior minister said.

Describing the process which will be employed as soft-scaping, Crawford said the plan is to use containers as walls instead of having more permanent structures as well as use some existing facilities such as that at Gun Boat Beach.

"... So we are not seeking to transform and build all kinds of big buildings and big units but we are seeking to have more soft development and again it will be educated by NEPA's views and UDC," he said.

According to Crawford, his vision for the area is to establish an entertainment area similar to that of the popular Miami Beach in Florida, which would not only have venues for entertainment activities but also centralised parking and food venues.

"I hear some concerns that it (Palisadoes) is one way in and one way out and that it might disturb the airport, however, there is not the same realities with when an event starts and when flights are going out so, I don't expect to have many flights going out at 12:30 am and therefore I don't think that will be an issue," Crawford said.

The junior minister, who was fielding questions on his sectoral presentation to Parliament, told journalists at yesterday's Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston that Jamaica is not sufficiently wealthy or large to have single-use places or roads.

According to Crawford, the number one consideration with an entertainment zone is that there can be no future housing development in that area. He explained that people cannot invest in these areas only to be later told that it is no longer capable of being a D (entertainment) zone because housing units are to be built. "Why Palisadoes is good is because it is already zoned against housing," he said.

Meanwhile, Crawford said the Ministry of Tourism, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, will be seeking to retrofit a number of car parks in downtown Kingston to also be used as entertainment venues.

"... Let's say by 9:00 pm you screw in the post, put a fence around and after the event you screw out the post and it is a parking lot once again," he said, adding that this is unlikely to cause any noise nuisance since this is a commercial area.

"We are now doing sound tests to see which one of these car parks qualify to be used," he said.

A realistic timeline for the establishment of these entertainment venues, according to Crawford, will be dependent on how many people want to invest.

"I would say to someone like the person who owns Mas Camp that you will be in a competitive disadvantage if you are in a place outside of a 24-hour zone, so persons who are interested in investing in entertainment should be putting their funds together for as soon as we announce a call for proposals," he said.

Meanwhile, Crawford said the plan is to be able to provide Jamaica Urban Transit Company shuttles to transport patrons to and from these venues.

"If you don't have sufficient transportation how are you going to have zones, so we are saying when you book a zone downtown you might be able to have a shuttle provided," he said.

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