Mixed feelings about hotel in downtown Kingston

June 05, 2019
The former Oceana Hotel that will be reopened as ROK, Kingston.
The former Oceana Hotel that will be reopened as ROK, Kingston.
Prince isn’t eager to see the new development.
Prince isn’t eager to see the new development.
Annastacia says the hotel will increase sales for businesses on the Waterfront.
Annastacia says the hotel will increase sales for businesses on the Waterfront.
Theresa believes that vendors like herself will be asked to leave the area when the development is complete.
Theresa believes that vendors like herself will be asked to leave the area when the development is complete.
The ROK Hotel, Kingston, is expected to bring visitors to downtown Kingston.
The ROK Hotel, Kingston, is expected to bring visitors to downtown Kingston.
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The former Oceana Hotel in downtown Kingston will be reopened next year as ROK, Kingston. Delano Seiveright, chief strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, said that the Hilton will be renovating the PanJam-owned property to fit a 168-room hotel. The building will also include retail on-site entertainment and commercial office spaces.

Seiveright said that this hotel will address what he describes as a shortage of hotels in the city, and it is also important to the development of downtown Kingston.

"Downtown is changing. The fact that you're seeing new high rise building and new interests happening down there, and Duke street itself also going through some level of transformation, and there are other developments and plans for the area," he said.

But Prince, who told THE STAR that he has been hanging out at the Waterfront in downtown Kingston for years, does not welcome this change.

"A hotel of that magnitude and nature don't needed right here. Hotel like this need to be at a beach. You cyaan have a hotel like this and have a little swimming pool," he said.

For Prince, developments in the area should be purely commercial.

"This is a commercial area. This is not a residential area. We have a residential building ya so already, and wi don't want no more. Right now, when dem ova deh so a play dem music, dem upstairs a bawl seh it too loud, and yet still dem a seh dem a bring back downtown alive," he said.

Prince has another suggestion.

"From long time this building need to tear down, cause it's a white elephant. Pure duppy live up deh so," he said.

Meanwhile, Theresa, a vendor who sells her wares across from the hotel, is concerned that she might be asked to leave the space she has been working at for the past 18 years.

"When dem done fix it, dem gooda run mi weh. But mi nuh mind cause meanwhile dem fixing it mi wah see if mi can mek something fi put dung that mi can buy sugar and lime," she said.

But Seiveright told THE STAR that the development of downtown Kingston will be include everyone.

"Stakeholders will ensure that the development of downtown is holistic," he said.

Annastasia, the manager at Island Coffee Cafe on the Waterfront, believes that this development will add to the security of downtown Kingston and increase sales for business.

"A hotel like this increase the security of downtown. I think it will be a good impact for sure. It will bring a different kind of crowd around here. Hopefully, it will encourage the police to be a bit more present," she said

"My brand will be out there a bit more with locals and tourists. This location will get more of a different set of people, so it's definitely gonna be busier."

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