The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is working towards enriching the town of Port Maria, St Mary through a phase 2 restoration programme at the Port Maria Civic Centre.
The contract to facilitate this upgrading and bring the centre into full operation was signed in 2008 for approximately US$2.5M under the San Jose Accord. Significant progress has already been made with the construction of new and restored facilities for a mayor’s office, council chambers, retail shops, restaurants, craft museum, commercial shops and amphitheatre, in a perfect blend of modern offices and quaint Georgian architecture. The project is being carried out with financing from the Bank of Economic and Social Development (BANDES) of Venezuela in partnership with the Government of Jamaica under the San Jose Accord with contractors being Racar Ingeniros C.A. from Venezuela.
According to Ethlyn Douglas, secretary general of the St Mary Parish Council, “the redevelopment of the Port Maria Civic Centre by the UDC will provide a catalyst for further development by providing a town hall meeting space for community focused activities”. The Centre will also feature modern office spaces which will facilitate emerging businesses in the town.
Phase 1 of the Port Maria Civic Centre restoration project started in 1998 when the old burnt out shell was replaced by a town hall, an interpretive museum and auxiliary office at a cost of J51M. The facility is managed by the Manning Trust.
Originally built in 1821, this fine example of Jamaican Georgian architecture housed the Port Maria courthouse and police station until it was destroyed by fire in 1988. This section of the building was reconstructed and completed by the Urban Development Corporation in the year 2000 under the San Jose Accord. It was officially reopened on February 8, 2002 by former Prime Minister The Most Hon P. J. Patterson
The Port Maria Civic Centre is surrounded by notable relics such as the Great War Monument, Tacky Memorial and St Mary Parish Church. It straddles the coastline of St. Mary's capital and is an outstanding landmark having housed in its original state in 1821, the Port Maria Court House, Collectorate, Police Station and Parish Council offices. National Hero the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante was once tried in the Court House.
The Port Maria Civic Centre will form the centerpiece for the development of heritage and eco-tourism and for exposing creative talents that abound in the parish. The civic centre will also enrich the social and cultural life of St. Mary when the museum is established and the craft shops are open to the public.