Business View Caribbean interviews Angella Whitter, CEO of the Whitter Group, as part of our focus on best practices of Caribbean businesses.
Whitter Village, in Ironshore, Montego Bay, Jamaica, is a one-stop-shopping paradise with a beautifully landscaped village square – the ideal place to shop, dine, and meet friends. The Whitter Village forms part of the Elegant Corridor of Montego Bay, which hosts a number of 5-star hotels, including – Half Moon, Hilton, the Hyatt Ziva, and Riu, to name a few. Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa, and Zoetry Montego Bay are just two minutes away.
Whitter Village was created by businessman, Joe Whitter, who was a well-known property developer in Jamaica and the UK for over 40 years. “My late husband bought this property in 1974, which is about 1,000 acres of mixed-use land,” says Angella Whitter, CEO of the Whitter Group, which owns Whitter Village and several other properties on Jamaica’s north shore. “He thought that the area needed additional retail space and offices to satisfy the needs of the community of Ironshore, Rose Hall, and its environs. So, he decided to build this 245,000-square-foot development. We conceptualized the plan as far back as 2003, but it wasn’t complete until 2010.”
“When we designed the space, we didn’t want just four walls and a roof,” Whitter continues. “A lot of thought went into the architectural design. So, you have different rooflines, you have different façades. We created the courtyard area in the middle of the development with a very beautiful fountain, which is the center of energy of the place. A lot of people gravitate there in the evenings. We play music in the courtyard area, which does not happen in any other development. We think it sets us apart from other like developments in Montego Bay.”
Today, the exquisite Whitter Village contains some 92 shops, including a state-of-the-art 29,000 square-foot supermarket, a 6,000-square-foot pharmacy, a world class gaming lounge, several gift shops, the United States of America Consulate, and many other businesses including Payless Shoes and Harley Davidson Stores. It is currently 89 percent occupied. “We have different restaurants, sandwich shops, ice cream bars; we have a first-rate supermarket, a pharmacy, so we do have some great anchors, as well. We try to get a good mix and that’s the reason why we do have some spaces available to sell,” says Whitter.
Whitter Village has 25 employees, and parent company, Whitter Group, has 63. Recently, the Group sold its stake in the nearby Ironshore Golf and Country Club to another developer who is planning to build a housing estate on the 125-acre plot. “We thought that the golf course was not playing its role and we didn’t think we were getting enough traction in that arena,” Whitter explains. “Housing will bring more energy into the Ironshore area and the shops will be enhanced with the patrons who are going to be building and working in the area. We have a vast amount of land still available and we are business people and visionaries. We know that there will be many other developments that will be done in the future: housing, commercial, offices. So, as the need arises, we will add to the spaces that we have. You have to be timely. Our next development is a housing project next door to Whitter Village and we will continue to add other developments as the need arises.”
Angela Whitter is both proud of Whitter Village and optimistic about its future as it moves towards full occupancy. “Whitter Village is a trailblazing development,” she declares; “the construction, the ambience, the layout. It is ideally located with access to visitors and locals. In Montego Bay, a number of developments have a problem with parking; we do not have that problem. It’s secure and anybody can feel comfortable coming here. We maintain the place, and we ensure that the development lives up to the expectations. I think it’s a tremendous development and the atmosphere is awesome.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Whitter Village
WHAT: A 245,000-square-foot shopping center
WHERE: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Clayton Morgan & Company – Established in 1976, Clayton Morgan & Company has offices in Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, as well as overseas agents in Canada, Panama, Turks and Caicos, and the U.S.A. The firm’s lawyers serve both individuals and companies that require business-related services. – www.claytonmorganandco.com