Work being done on Ocho Rios courthouseMonday, October 25, 2021
BY HORACE MILLS
OCHO RIOS, St Ann — The abandoned courthouse in this resort town is being restored, and will be transformed into an art gallery and coffee shop.
Work started at the location last week and has already been cleared of shrubs with several pieces of rotten board also ripped from the structure.
The people said to be investing in the private venture were at the site last Friday, but they declined to divulge details, adding that they prefer to do so when the project is complete.
One of them, however, admitted that the restoration is taking place and that an art gallery is being built.
The planned restoration and commercial undertaking has been welcomed by councillor for the Ocho Rios Division, Michael Belnavis (Jamaica Labour Party).
“The assets in Ocho Rios need to be utilised and the fact that they are using it in the best interest of the town and turning it into a tourist attraction, to me, is purposeful. Having a museum and art gallery there is promotion of our heritage... It is unique in the town; it's a welcomed attraction and I want to wish them (investors) all the best in their endeavour. It is a unique approach that I believe will be welcomed by locals and tourists alike,” Belnavis told the Jamaica Observer.
He said based on the information he has received, the heritage of the building will be preserved.
“What I gather is that they (the investors) will be preserving the heritage of the courthouse, in that they are not looking to tear it down; they are just renovating it in its old Georgian state,” he added.
The Georgian-style courthouse was abandoned in 2005 partly because it was said to be unsafe. At that time, the cases that were being heard there were transferred to the courthouse that is located in the St Ann capital.
Since then, the premises had become a night-time playground for sex workers and their clients.
When the sex workers showed up at the location after nightfall last Friday, they could not enter the premises, but they quickly found another abandoned building from which to do their business.