JIS News

Construction of a major convention centre in Rose Hall, St. James is expected to get underway soon, with the signing of a contract with the Chinese developers, Complant, this Friday (May 25).
“What is happening now is that we are signing off on the designs, to make sure all the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, and with a view to signing a contract with Complant this Friday,” said Acting Vice President of the Urban Development Corporation, Maurice Johnson. He noted that the process was a “precondition to the loan agreement,” which will be signed on June 1.
Mr. Johnson, who was updating tourism sector interests on the project at the Half Moon Hotel on Tuesday (May 22), informed that the UDC, which will act as project managers, has been actively sourcing financing for the convention centre. He informed that after several approaches to various financiers, a framework agreement was signed with the Republic of China in 2006.
“The government, similar to what took place at Greenfield (in Trelawny), put onboard a Chinese firm with good reputation, Complant, so it will be financed, designed and built (by the Chinese); it’s turnkey. We also got approval for procurement on a sole source basis with Complant; we got that approval from the National Contracts Commission (NCC),” he informed.
He told the tourism stakeholders that representatives from Complant are already in the island fine-tuning all related issues. “We are quite confident that Complant is a good company,” Mr. Johnson said. “We have seen the results of their work and we are quite happy with that choice of contractor,” he added.
In the meantime, he indicated that expressions of interests will be invited for suitable operators, locally and internationally, to manage the complex. The selected company, he said, will be required to work very closely with the hotels in the area.
Project Manager with the UDC, Maxine Fisher-Caserly, explained that the convention centre will be located on 14 hectares (35 acres) of land adjacent to the Rose Hall Great House, and opposite to the Rose Hall shopping facility.
The recommendation from the consultants, she said, is that the facility should entail a complex of buildings linked by walkways with gardens and waterfall as the primary backdrop. She explained that the final design, which was approved under the proposed campus concept, will have a total built area of 20,000 square meters or a little over 215,000 square feet. It will consist of exhibit space, a banquet hall and eight meeting rooms covering more than 11,000 square feet. She said the recommendations call for the provision of 50,000 square feet of exhibit space and 21, 000 square feet of ballroom or banquet space.
Minister of State for Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Dr. Wykeham McNeil, in his remarks at the function, pointed out that the government has been holding consultations since 2001, with the hope of having consensus on the final design for the centre. He expressed the government’s commitment to the project, which is expected to be a catalyst for the development of tourism.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Horace Peterkin, in an interview with JIS News, said he was pleased about the project. “I am just very pleased. We will be ahead of the rest of the Caribbean islands except for Puerto Rico, in terms of being able to handle and market this area,” he stated.

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