Ambassador Marks Meets Atlanta Group Eager to Assist Downtown Redevelopment


An Atlanta-based corporation, Purpose Built Communities, wants to lend its expertise to the Jamaican Government in redeveloping blighted areas of downtown Kingston.
The redevelopment would be modelled on the successful East Lake Meadows public housing project that Purpose Built Communities constructed in Atlanta, Georgia.
President and CEO of Purpose Built Communities, Greg Giornelli, communicated his company’s interest to Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, during a tour of the redeveloped Eastlake Community in downtown Atlanta on Monday (September 20).

Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks (right), looks on as Community Development Advisor for the Atlanta-based corporation, Purpose Built Communities, Kathleen Brown Lee, points out features of the housing units located in the East Lake Meadows housing project, which was built by the corporation. Occasion was a tour of the project on Monday (Sept. 20). Looking on at left is Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Atlanta, Vin Martin.

The significance of the project to Jamaica, Mr. Giornelli said, is that it helps to break the cycle of poverty through comprehensive community redevelopment.
East Lake was previously one of Atlanta’s most poverty-stricken communities, but is now one of the city’s successes in terms of revitalising depressed communities.
Mr. Giornelli told Ambassador Marks that before it was revitalised, with 650 units of public and private housing for some 2,500 residents, East Lake had a crime rate some 18 times the US national average. About 90 per cent of the families were falling victims to crime in any given year. East Lake Meadows has now experienced an 87 per cent reduction in crime, 95 per cent reduction in violent crime and an overall crime rate lower than the surrounding single-family housing neighbourhoods.
Another East Lake success was the construction of a charter school, where 99 per cent of fifth graders meet or exceed state standards in Maths, Reading, and Language Arts.

Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks (centre), pays keen attention as Founding Principal of Tunnell Spangler Walsh and Associates, William T. Tunnell (right), explains the concept behind the Auburn Avenue redevelopment in downtown Atlanta. Looking on at left is Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Atlanta, Vin Martin. The Ambassador met with Mr. Tunnel on Monday (Sept. 20).

The new community has also attracted a number of investors, with job opportunities being opened up, Mr. Giornelli noted.
Stating his interest in visiting Jamaica with a team, the Purpose Built Communities CEO said that if the proposal is to work it would need a local organization to lead the effort, as well as support from key government organisations and important facilities, such as schools.
Ambassador Marks said she was very impressed with the project, and underscored how a similar project could benefit Jamaica. She also spoke about details of the Government’s plan to redevelop downtown Kingston, including a Kingston waterfront festival marketplace, a multi-modal transportation hub and a Kingston Harbour Bridge to link Kingston, the Norman Manley International Airport.
The Ambassador was accompanied by Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Atlanta, Vin Martin.
She also toured the Glenwood Project, on the outskirts of Atlanta, with William Tunnell, founding principal of Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates, community design and architecture specialists who have also done revitalisation projects in the USA, Japan, and Barbados.

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