Wednesday, April 8th 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: The ambitious project intended to revitalize and open up the major cultural centers in the downtown area of Belize City was officially launched today at one of its focal points, the former Government House, now House of Culture. The House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project is co-sponsored by the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and involves not only physical renovations but fostering a sense of pride in the residents of the Old Capital.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Manuel Heredia Jr. formally introduced the project today. $15 million will be spent on renovations to the House of Culture, Commercial Center and other colonial-era buildings along with a seaside promenade on North Front Street, botanical garden and urban museum at the current City Hall. He said it follows on from previous work by the Ministry to promote Belize City and other urban centers as tourism destinations as well as centers of culture and history to be admired and preserved by locals.
According to president of NICH Diane Haylock, the project is a response to a seeming past neglect of important properties of Belizean history which have been major cash cows for the City. She said that several colonial-era buildings have been taken down and the City has lost their value as attractions, and the project intends to consolidate what remains and make it matter both locally and internationally.
Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley’s City Council has already invested millions across the downtown of Belize City in infrastructure and other elements and he told the gathering this morning that this project will tie these investments into “people power,” giving residents a say in the future development of the City as a tourism destination.
The total cost of the project is $15 million and it is expected to last for two years. Historian and former president of NICH Yasser Musa this evening reiterated his criticism of the project, saying the money could be put to better use developing human resources and focusing on local African and ethnic culture.