A Partner in Development
 

The Brian Lara Promenade
The primary goal of the urban enhancement initiative was to restore Independence Square to its former stature. There was a wealth of information to draw on, dating back to the nineteen sixties, when several plans and designs with respect to upgrading the square had been circulated. In addition, numerous ideas and proposals were being generated through discussions with the major stakeholders on the project.

NIPDEC, as facilitator, undertook a comprehensive pedestrian survey, user surveys and observation exercises on movement within the square, both day and night. This massive collaborative effort would eventually result in the creation of a series of self-contained parks, walkways and recreation areas which spanned the length of the square and would eventually become known as the Brian Lara Promenade.

The core element and most obvious feature of the urban rehabilitation initiative, the Promenade was designed by a team of local professionals, lead by the architectural firm of Colin Laird Associates, who supervised construction works. Funding came from three sources Government, State Enterprises and the private sector. Construction of the Promenade began in 1992, and with the rehabilitation of the first two squares, the project sparked a wellspring of popular support which increased as people saw each square take shape and develop.

The Promenade is managed by an Association comprised of representatives of those businesses located on Independence Square itself. These businesses support the day-to-day maintenance of the Promenade through membership fees, which are based on the square footage of their property along Independence Square. The Association also receives funding through the State and private sector and generates revenue through charging user fees for the numerous activities which take place on the Promenade.

Although each of the ten squares of the Promenade has its own design, the inter-locking blocks, shady trees and comfortable seating patterns common to each unit bind the entire kilometre into a cohesive whole. In addition, underground irrigation systems have been developed to provide a reliable source of water, and the walkways have been designed to anticipate the major routes of pedestrian traffic. Indeed, all design elements take into account the critical factors of ongoing maintenance and continued operation.

As each square traverses a separate district, variations in design have been incorporated within the dominant theme to reflect the distinct characteristics of the respective neighbourhoods and to ensure a balanced mix of both quiet and active areas. Travelling through the squares, the environment slowly evolves from the distinctly conservative, calm atmosphere of Bankers Row at the western end, all the way through to the young urban beat of the fast food
outlets and trendy boutiques surrounding Cipriani Statute to the east.

A central stage located on one of the squares is the site of numerous cultural activities throughout the year, and with its pleasant, relaxed atmosphere, comfortable benches, tables for chess or draughts, beautiful greenery and numerous small restaurants surrounding the area, the Promenade has become the most popular venue in Port of Spain.

The restoration of Independence Square to its former glory has signified the revival of Port of Spain to an extent which has far exceeded the expectations of those involved. The Promenade is the first Business Improvement District (BID) in the country, and other municipalities such as Chaguanas, have expressed a desire to create similar BIDs, having witnessed its spectacular success.

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