Within days, construction is expected to begin on apartments in Denham Town, downtown Kingston, as part of a redevelopment project for the area.
A total of 24 studio units and four two-bedroom units are to be built at Metcalfe Street and Wellington Street in Denham Town, at a cost of $72.1 million.
A contract to undertake the works was signed between the Government and contractor, SM Quality Construction, during a ceremony at the Dominica Drive offices of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation in New Kingston yesterday (February 13).
Under the agreement, the National Housing Trust (NHT) will finance the housing development portion of the project; the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) will deal with on-site and off-site infrastructural works; and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will undertake the construction of the units.
Minister without Portfolio in the Economic Growth Ministry, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the project is “symbolic of a new beginning for the people of downtown”.
“This Government places importance on the provision of affordable housing (solutions), especially for low-income workers and young professionals,” he said.
The Minister further pointed out that under the Denham Town project, a significant number of residents will be targeted for relocation in the ‘Board Villa’ areas where temporary homes have been constructed.
“We expect that a lot of the residents in what we call the Board Villas, will be relocated in the new homes, and that we will begin design work to improve that area,” he informed, adding that redevelopment of the Rasta City area will follow and that some design has already started.
Dr. Chang noted that the redevelopment of downtown, particularly with the provision of quality housing, is part of the Government’s strategy to see a return of professional residents, who would live and work in the area.
“We expect that in the redevelopment of downtown, we will have housing for other levels of the economy, because we want to restore the vibrancy downtown and cater to a wide cross section. It’s not a matter of displacing low income to bring in high income,” he said.
In the meantime, Member of Parliament for Western Kingston and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, said he is “exceedingly happy” for the development, which will serve to enhance the lives of residents.
“The inclusion of this housing stock will go a far way to lift the standard of the area, to improve the quality of life and to extend a new lease on life to persons who want affordable housing in the area but find it difficult (to do so),” he said.
Councillor for the Denham Town Division, Jermaine Hyatt, also welcomed the initiative, noting that the people of Denham Town are “extremely grateful”.
The construction works, which are expected to be completed in eight months, will comprise four separate two-storey buildings.
There will be parking areas for each building, two structures for doing laundry, and provision of the necessary garbage skips. In addition, sufficient green space will be provided for recreational use.