One of the many problems facing newly independent Jamaica in the 1960’s was the increasing trend towards overpopulation in the urban centres. Because capital investment in mining, manufacturing and tourism was concentrated in these areas, there was a drift of the rural population to the cities and towns in search of employment and an improved quality of life.
It was at this stage, that the Government decided that the problems of urban growth could be ameliorated by creating new and viable urban centres in rural areas to ease the pressure from the existing ones. This would be accompanied by improvement in the urban fabric of metropolitan regions.
Herein was seen the need for a developer in the public interest, which would combine the authority and resources of Government, with the expertise and dynamism of the private sector, supported by appropriate legislative powers. Thus the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) came into being in March 1968.
Since 1968, the UDC has effectively transformed Jamaica's most viable urban centres and strategic rural towns, whilst preserving the natural environment, traditions and customs and spurring economic development. The organization, through its development programmes, has significantly improved the coverage and quality of public infrastructure, in addition to introducing alternative patterns of urban settlement, including creative shelter solutions and the development of new townships.
Major projects over the years have included those in the designated areas:
The Corporation has also completed numerous Agency projects including
In addition, the UDC manages the Tax Incentive Programme (TIP) for Urban Renewal, which aims to stimulate urban renewal by revitalizing historic centres and providing opportunities for private capital stakeholders to participate in the re-development of blighted areas.
In 2003 the Corporation spearheaded the formation of one of Government’s latest initiatives, in terms of urban renewal, the Kingston City Centre Improvement Company, a non-profit entity which became a reality in November of that year. The KCCIC is mandated to redevelop Kingston within a defined area known as the Business Improvement District (BID). Initial focus will be on the regularization and effective management of the market district, the redevelopment of St. William Grant Park and the relocation of the Transportation Centre to a new hub along the east-west Coast Road. Programmes and plans for the new company will be implemented over a four to five year period.