Reggae museum in 2024?
MONTEGO BAY, St James – DownSound Entertainment is hopeful that a lease arrangement with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) for use of Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay will be approved soon so it can begin rolling out its plans for developing the facility.
Part of the planned upgrade to the venue used for each summer’s staging of Reggae Sumfest will be a museum dedicated to the work of reggae legend Bob Marley.
The collection was curated by American reggae archivist Roger Steffens.
DownSound Entertainment Deputy Chairman Robert Russell is hoping progress will be made within the next few months.
“We are just waiting on the UDC to finalise the lease and then, hopefully, we can start construction early in the new year,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.
“On our side, we have everything sorted out; we’re talking design, everything. We’re just waiting on them to approve and give us the final lease,” he added.
The Observer reached out to the UDC for an update but there was no response up to press time.
According to Russell, DownSound successfully negotiated a lease after it was put to tender but ongoing discussions have extended completion of the process.
“It’s not a hard and fast reason why it is taking so long because it’s a series of negotiations that have taken place to finalise the lease, which we were in the process of doing. There were some different criteria that we had to satisfy and they had to be clear on. When you are doing a big development like that it takes a certain amount of discussion and adjustments to get to the final product, and hopefully we are there now,” he explained.
“We are hoping that in the new year things will move a little faster. The wheels of Government turn very slowly and sometimes it’s frustrating, but you just have to wait until everything is in place,” Russell added.
He is looking forward to the museum being completed and showcasing the Steffens collection.
“It will be the only museum of its kind in the world, the only complete Bob Marley, reggae, and rocksteady museum in the world,” he boasted.
Russell anticipates that the facility will be a major boost for the western resort city.
“I think it will transform Montego Bay into the entertainment capital of the Caribbean, for sure,” he remarked.
“I think it will have a massive impact because people come from all parts of the world to visit the Bob Marley Museum, his birthplace, and where he was buried and all of that, and that will now happen in Montego Bay,” he added.
He outlined, once again, other aspects of the planned development such as a dock, restaurant, walking trail, and amenities.
“It will be a complete tourist attraction with entertainment and various other offerings for tourists and locals alike,” he pointed out.
Russell was still unable to provide an estimated price tag for the multimillion-dollar project.
“That keeps changing. The longer it takes, of course, is the more it is expected to cost. You can’t really price it until you actually start, because what would have been six months ago or a year ago wouldn’t pertain today,” he said.
“As time goes by, inflation and everything else will have an effect on the final cost, but we’re prepared for whatever the eventualities are,” he assured.