The first phase of Festival Marketplace project aimed at transforming the Kingston waterfront into cultural experience turned out to be the easy part including new walkways for easy access to the Ocean Boulevard, its eateries and other establishments.
The more challenging task is the development of a new cruise ship pier - a project that the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) said it had already initiated a discussion on with the PAJ (Port Authority of Jamaica).
The general manager for UDC Desmond Malcolm announced that the pier would be developed beside Festival Market. The project's funding is still unclear, but Malcolm insisted that it would "accelerate changes in downtown Kingston".
The last cruise port built by Jamaica, at Falmouth, was due to a collaboration of the UDC, PAJ and Royal Caribbean. Port Royal re-development plan, another one between UDC projects, is created on Kingston becoming a port through which travelers from Central and South America will be able to flow to the historic site.
Kingston Harbour previously welcomed cruise vessels in the 1950s and 1960s. On 14 February 1966, SS United States - the largest cruise ship in the world at the time, docked at Western Terminals.
Jamaica receives more than 1 million passengers per year at its 4 major cruise ports in Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Montego Bay. Falmouth was developed at US$269 million and debuted in March 2011.
Along with the plan for new cruise ship pier in Kingston, forming phase two of Festival Marketplace project, emerged plans for local shopping, bars and restaurants, food bazaar, exhibition space, vendor arcade, loft apartments, gardens and waterfront promenade, as well as a bridge over Port Royal Street purposely built to link to the transportation centre.
Malcolm added that the phase one project (including pathways and hard surfacing being done by Contra Construction and Chin's Construction at a cost of $68 million), was to be completed by mid-August 2015. The Festival Marketplace was planned to open officially soon after. It will span around 3.6 hectares (nearly 9 acres of the waterfront). The components include renovations to Victoria Craft Market which consists of 2 floors, 5 double occupancy vending shops, information kiosk and car park accommodating 62 cars and 3 buses.
Nearby Victoria Pier building has been already leased to Yosamini Holdings Ltd for a 25-year period. Yosamini proposed to transform it into "an 'A' class' restaurant with lounge, art gallery, outdoor entertainment area and sports gaming facility.