The Building Across the Road from the General Penitentiary
— Read on

When I graduated from University College London in the mid-1970s, after doing an M.Phil in Urban Planning, I tried to get a job with UDC. Let’s say that they did not see me as fitting what they needed. In the subsequent 40-odd years that I have been visiting Jamaica and now living here, again. I was struck by one singular fact. Whenever I look around Jamaica, especially downtown, I wonder at the immense lost growth potential from not having a wholesale renovation program. Jobs & development in abundance. The other loss comes first from the negative impression dereliction leaves vs the clear positives that come from seeing renovations spreading and second from the multiplier effects of such renovations that are economic, social and psychological.

I understand that much of the urban blight we see in Jamaica is NOT the natural result of economic decline, but the contrived result of hoarding of land and building as assets. I have never quite figured out the economic logic of that, because the premium always seemed to be greater by putting such assets back into operation.

I can see an underlying political dynamic that may explain it in part, but not in whole. I’m still thing.

Susan’s pictures may help prompt me to think again, to see what driving forces are at play.