Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City

Posted By: Marty

Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City - 10/27/18 10:26 AM

The Origins of the Downtown Rejuvenation Project

Our approach on planning for heritage preservation in historic downtowns

The experience gained by us working for a long time in Planning for Heritage Preservation in historic downtowns has shown that it is no longer possible to continue with the traditional approach based on just fulfilling the contents of heritage laws (when there are laws).

Either the value as heritage of an historical area is understood as a wealth-generating asset (opportunities) and a way of improving the quality of life, and the protection policy is understood as the result of strategic processes of urban renewal with the participation of all actors that have a role in the development of the city –residents, businesses, developers, builders, etc.-, or the Heritage Protection Plan becomes just a regulatory document, that links protection with prohibition and that, of course, fails at giving back the historic downtown the necessary vitality in order to survive and avoid complete destruction and disappearance for good.

There is no secret in this, simple enough: what is alive is preserved, and is alive what is used by the community. Urban planning tools (traditional plans), are only part of the development process, important, but partial.

For us, the success of a Heritage Preservation Plan does not lie in the fact that the technical documentation that support it, is complete or comprehensive (it should, of course), but to be possible and exciting for the community to implement it. In other words, “the community has to believe in it”, to make it their plan, as the tool to empowerment over the historic town. Either the Historic Downtown is “an opportunity” for the population or it is worth almost nothing.

Therefore if we start with revitalization criteria and strategies for a Comprehensive Development, the balance between protection and development must be present from the first moment, guiding the approach to carrying out the planning work (it is not something that could be raised “afterwards”).

Hence, even from the definition of the scope and the content of the survey, to the writing of regulations must be carried out with this goal in mind. Any actions other than these are useless. A true Heritage Preservation Plan IS A PLAN OF ACTION and cannot remain as a theoretical or technical information on the future of the Historic Downtown.

From the start, the Heritage Preservation Plan and the town as a whole (all the stakeholders that represent it and not just the City Hall) should be able to answer the following question: what role do you want the Historic Downtown to play in the future of the town?, or for that matter, what do you want the Historic Center for… and… for whom are we planning?

But a Plan with this approach is very demanding on time and human resources –and hence, on money--. That’s why I am proposing my methodology for Belize City as a FIRST STEP towards a more comprehensive way of planning: I am putting forward the proposal to start by an INVENTORY so that the main buildings are listed and a regulation is written, so that a real plan can be made in the future.

SOURCE: PADECO’s consultant on Heritage: Rafael Fontes

The fifteen million-dollar Downtown Rejuvenation Project in Belize City is moving full steam ahead since it was launched in 2015.  The project, which intends to revitalize and open up cultural, has completed some of its goals including upgrades at the Yabra field where a covered structure was installed and fixtures put in place to enhance the public space.  The project has also completed repairs at the Anglican Cathedral and made ceiling and roof improvements on the Supreme Court building.  When we caught up with the Project’s Liaison Officer Albert Avila he told us about what you can expect in the downtown area.

Albert Avila, Community Liaison Officer, Downtown Rejuvenation Project

“We are building a restaurant at the corner of Cockburn Lane and Regent Street. We are currently driving piles there and we are also driving piles at a new building which will replace Women’s Department on Albert Street. And then soon after that, we are going to start with Paslow. We are in the process of designing a new building for Paslow and finalizing the new House of Culture which we will build at the Government House. And then we will do the second part of Yabra which will be rebuilding that football field area.”

Channel 5

Here is the Facebook page for The Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project

Posted By: Marty

Re: Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City - 02/21/20 05:34 PM

House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project 80% Completed

The House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project is being financed by the Government of Belize and the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund.  Project Director John Arana says that major investments are being made in nine locations in downtown Belize City.  The project is eighty percent completed and should be finalized by the end of this year.  The rehabilitation of the Swing Bridge, however, was not part of the project as Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner pointed out a few weeks ago. Arana says that if the council has identified the Swing Bridge as a priority, plans should be prepared, including the Bill of Quantities, and those documents should be submitted for funding. He says that it would be a challenge to deviate from the project at the current execution stage. 

John Arana, Director, Downtown Rejuvenation Project

“We had to prioritize certain locations; the Swing Bridge is not on that list. The Swing Bridge does need major works but usually when you see a project being executed it is planning which goes on for five years or so. If it is the desire of the council for works to occur at the Swing Bridge they have to prepare the same packages, they have to prepare the same studies and submit the proposal for financing and that takes some time.”

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City - 03/12/20 11:43 AM

The restored blue room at Government House. That is what I used to call it because it was blue from 1998 to 2019. The new colour is a light gray, so I guess it will become the gray room now. This room had many functions over its history. It was once used as the master bedroom. It is said that Princess Margaret slept in the left far corner of this room. This room also hosted many balls as it was also the ballroom at one point. I am thinking one function it should continue to do is to be a place to hold state dinners/functions when we have invited dignitaries. The history and ambience would make it a perfect location for such events. As it is right now, the entire house is in imaculate condition.

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Posted By: Marty

Re: Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City - 03/13/20 05:33 PM


This month the Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project completed the rehabilitation of the Government House Property.

The rehabilitation included the renovation of the Government House, the construction of the new House of Culture, the reconstruction of the Carriage House, installation of a new parking area, raising of the property between 6" to 18" in certain areas to fight climate change, improve the coastline to prevent further erosion, installation of new concrete pedestrian walkways throughout the property, rehabilitation of the stage, rehabilitation of the seven cannons / flag pole, rehabilitation of the perimeter fence and installation of identification location markers relating to flora, fauna, and historic information.

We are preparing to conduct a grand opening of the property and other properties ( Ronald Frederick Greenwood House / Musuem and Human Development Building) in the downtown area during the month of April.

To commemorate this momentous achievement please view the uploaded presentation which will show before and after photos of various areas of the property.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City - 04/06/20 11:56 AM


For over a little more than four years, The Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project (otherwise simply known as the Downtown Rejuvenation Project) has been busy working on various components of the Project. In the past, we have shared our progress concerning individual components we have been working on as they progressed over the last four years on our Facebook pages.

Here is a comprehensive list of the components we have completed and are in progress as of today:

1)addition of a metal structure to cover the Basketball Court at Yarborough;

2&3)restoration works at St. John's Cathedral and the Supreme Court;

4)raze and rebuilding of the Greenwood House at corner of Regents and Cockburn Lane;

5)raze and rebuilding of the Human Development Building at #26 Albert Street;

6)renaming of the site once known as Paslow and the commencement of a new building the will be known as the Belize Heritage Plaza;

7) restoration and construction at the Government House Property;

8) restoration and upliftment of the Yarborough Football Field;

9) demarcation and interpretation of selected historic sites along Albert and Regents Streets (in fabrication). This is to become a part of the Ecomuseum in Downtown Belize City;

10) improvement of the National Historic Legislation to include important historic assets less than a hundred years old; and,

11) Three years of the Belize City History and Social Studies Competition and the Mr. Peter's Krismus Brukdong Bram along with other cultural projects.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Rejuvenation Project Transforming Downtown Belize City - 05/18/20 05:02 PM

The Downtown Rejuvenation Project's Ecomuseum Update

The Downtown Rejuvenation Project like many other projects was on a break due to the COVID-19 shutdown. As the country starts to awaken from its economic sleep, so is the Downtown Rejuvenation Project. As an update, below is a quick recap of the various components’ status in the Downtown Rejuvenation Project:


1) Yarborough A: which included the restoration and building of a covering for the Basketball court area.

2) St. John's Cathedral Repairs and cleaning.

3) The Supreme Court repairs to roof and historic clock.


4) Raze and rebuilding of the Human Development Building at #26 Albert Street.

5) Raze and rebuilding of the Ronald Frederic Greenwood house located at the corner of Cockburn Lane and Regents Street.

6) Government House property restoration and construction.


1) The primary visitor attraction to downtown when completed in our Eco-museum will be the Government House property. However, since the Eco-museum will encompass the entire downtown, which include the Albert and Regents streets areas, there will be a need to tie these areas together. This will be accomplished by the installation of about twenty ILM's (Interpretive Location Markers) throughout downtown. Since one of the main objectives of our Eco-museum's mission was to highlight our heritage sites, the main objective of the ILM's will be to do just that. The ILM's will accomplish this by providing additional information on site of each historic site.

The Downtown Rejuvenation Project is a Taiwan ICDF and Government of Belize collaborative project geared towards increasing visitors into downtown. Although a portion of the visitors to downtown would have been foreign tourists, which will be in short supply in the short term, our downtown Eco-museum will also be targeting local tourists as well. When completed, downtown will become a historic zone where all Belizeans will be able to immerse themselves in our history and culture.

2&3 ) Two components we are working on to enhance the visitors' experience in downtown, whether they are visiting in person or viewing on the internet from some distant country (building interest), will be a downtown Tour Map App and a Downtown Eco-museum Web Site. These two components will work together to enhance the visitors' experience by providing additional information about our History and Culture that the ILM's at the site will not provide.

4) Yarborough B: completion of the restorative works on the football field, coastline protection, new pedestrian walkway around field, seating near the sea, restoration of police booth, installation of new spectator seating and new restroom facilities.

5) Completion of the new Belize Heritage Plaza located at the site which was once known as the Paslow.

6) Making #4,5,& 6 from projects in “COMPONENTS COMPLETED BUT NOT OPERATIONAL” section operational.

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