KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Ground was broken on March 17) for the renovation of the Courtyard at Devon House, to make it more attractive and safer for locals and visitors alike. The project, which is valued at approximately $70 million, is being implemented by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, in keeping with its mandate of promoting growth and development in the tourism sector.
Speaking at the official ground-breaking ceremony, Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett said that the ground-breaking signals the government’s commitment to position Kingston as a gastronomy tourism attraction.
“Today we are kickstarting a new development thrust to position Kingston and particularly Devon House as the gastronomy capital of the Caribbean and, arguably, the Western World. Gastronomy is at the heart of visitor consumption patterns around the world, accounting for 42% of visitor food expenditure, with visitors spending US $9.3 trillion moving across borders in 2019. If we tap into a fraction of that, our people will reap the benefits. Gastronomy, for us, therefore, represents the number one pillar of growth," said Minister Bartlett.
The renovation, which is being done by Bernard’s Construction Services, will be conducted in two phases. Phase one will commence before the end of the financial year, and the second phase will be conducted in the 2022/2023 financial year.
“Gastronomy for us and Devon House is going to be the standard for presentation for destination Kingston over time. Today we are looking at some $70 million for the sprucing of the courtyard to make it a place of glory, allurement, excitement, and aesthetics - a place that you want to be to have yourself a sense of place" said Bartlett.
The new design will address a number of issues, including: uneven surfaces from tree roots in the vicinity; poor drainage, which leads to flooding when it rains; Limited seating for patrons and structural damage to wooden columns and pergolas. Additionally, the current design of the area does not allow for ease of movement when traversing the various shops and restaurants in the courtyard.
The scope of works includes the construction of:
1. Two gazebos;
2. A new entry structures
4. New paving and landscaping (including brick pavers concrete walkways, kerbs, and planters;
5. Lattice screen fencing and gates to service yard area;
6. Reinforced concrete seat walls;
7. Improved water supply (including relocation of existing fire hydrant and new hose bibs)
8. Stormwater drainage
9. Lighting installation
10. Painting and finishing
In sharing his support of the initiative, Deputy Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Winston Ennis, said, "The KSAMC is pleased to endorse the new development that will take place here on this ground, and we offer any further technical assistance that will be required throughout the life of the project to ensure the implementation process is as seamless as possible and the final outcomes are met."
The initiative also received endorsement from the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Saint Andrew North Eastern and the Minister of Justice Hon. Delroy Chuck, who shared that, “I commend the Tourism Ministry and the Tourism Enhancement Fund for the fantastic work they are doing on the upgrades to this complex which stands out in Kingston as an area that all Jamaicans can visit and with the pandemic coming to a close I have no doubt that Devon House will be an area that people gather as they did before the pandemic.”
Devon House is strategically positioned as one of the main heritage tourist attractions in the Kingston Metropolitan Resort Area. The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has partnered with the Devon House Development Company Limited and Tourism Product Development Company Limited to execute several projects at the Devon House Heritage Site, aimed at maintaining the site as well as improving its aesthetic appeal for both locals and tourists alike.
Since 2012, TEF has funded several infrastructural developments to make the landmark financially sustainable. Some of the upgrades include: the pavement of walkways, the construction of a new Ice Cream Shop and new public restroom facility, the removal and replacement of a defective pump and the installation of a new pump, the extension of the fencing around the property, as well as improvement works to the Devon House Mansion.
Devon House falls directly under the support of the Ministry of Tourism who in turn manages the property.