UDC wants to give up Catherine Hall complex
THE Urban Development Corporation is again trying to rid itself of the management of the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay.
According to general manager at the UDC’s Montego Bay office, Winston Ritchie, the aim is to either divest the property or have it leased on a long-term basis.
“There is one applicant that’s now being considered,” he told the Observer. He added that if approved, the proposal would lead to the long-term leasing of the property.
Since 1993 the 17-acre property has been the home of Reggae Sumfest, the island’s largest stage show. Festival operators rent the site from the UDC on an annual basis.
But the UDC has repeatedly stated that it has no intention of continuing to operate the facility that it developed at a cost of over $25 million.
Ritchie said that initial outlay signalled the project’s first stage, with divestment or long-term leasing being the next step.
“We are not in that type of business (operating the facility), somebody can take it over and deal with it,” he said.
The UDC manager said, however, that the sale or lease of the property would not adversely affect the annual staging of Reggae Sumfest.
“That will form part of any agreement, as that show (Reggae Sumfest) must go on,” Ritchie said.
The UDC is one of government’s main project implementing agencies across the island. It also owns several pieces of prime real estate, however, it does not participate in the management of those facilities.
According to Ritchie, the thrust to dispose of the property required three phases of evaluation and the current lease proposal was in an advanced stage. But the UDC GM said the proposal now in the works could still be rejected, as the companies or individuals seeking to operate the facility must meet strict criteria.
Since 1993, 15 companies and individuals have applied to the UDC, with a view to operating the facility, however, all have been refused.