The Government has budgeted $1.2 billion to undertake comprehensive upgrading of the popular Montego Bay Hip Strip, located along Jimmy Cliff Boulevard (formerly Gloucestershire Avenue), in the resort city.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says the sum includes $150 million earmarked in the 2021/22 Budget to commence preliminary work on the project, which, he notes, will form part of the focus on reimaging and transforming the Hip Strip and by extension Montego Bay.
The Minister made the announcement while delivering the closing 2021/22 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 15), under the theme ‘Recovering Faster, Stronger and Better’.
Mr. Bartlett said the proposed Hip Strip development includes physical improvements, new product development and substantial operations, heavy street-scaping, and possible pedestrianizing of the area after re-scoping of the transportation and road networks.
Additionally, he said the work will include creating thematic facades and developing an entertainment park, spanning the stretch from the Harmony Beach Park to the popular dead-end beach on Kent Avenue.
Mr. Bartlett further advised that the programmed renovations will be complemented by the proposed construction of a 13-storey mixed-use facility along the strip by a local developer that is intended to accommodate hotels, residences and entertainment activities.
He added that this development will push the value of investment in that area to approximately $7.9 billion.
Meanwhile, the Ministry will be partnering with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to build out a promenade from the cruise terminal in the Montego Free Port, along the seafront incorporating Catherine Hall, linking that with Harmony Beach Park, and culminating at the Hip Strip.
Mr. Bartlett, who advised that this proposed development will be taken to the House of Representatives “shortly”, said it is envisaged that the stretch will have areas for entertainment, shopping, access to craft development and artisan activities, and facilitate a fisherfolk village, adding that “we will have, for the first time, a complete tourism experience”.
“So, when you walk through the area, it will be pedestrian-friendly and will enable visitors and Jamaicans to interact freely. It’s going to be a transformation like we have never seen before,” he noted.