Paramaribo’s old town to get a facelift

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said it has approved a US$20 million loan in helping Suriname launch an urban rehabilitation program.

The Washington-based financial institution said on Wednesday that the project seeks to contribute to the socio-economic revitalization of the city’s historic center “in order to attract back residents and businesses to the area; restore its cultural heritage value; reduce traffic congestion; and strengthen the institutional framework for its sustainable management.”

Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital, has 243,556 inhabitants, or 45 percent of the country’s population, the IDB said.

The old town, consisting of a core of 48 hectares and a buffer zone of more than 100 hectares, in 2002 was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the IDB said.

“This concentration of historic and cultural heritage buildings and monuments, as well as of urban sites, has great potential to contribute to the city’s sustainable and equitable development,” it said.

“Yet, the area suffers from physical, social and economic decay, which undermines its potential and poses a threat to its physical assets and its UNESCO Heritage Site designation,” the IDB added.

It said the program will renovate the city’s public spaces, rehabilitate heritage buildings, create new housing projects in order to offer renting options to a mixed-income population, and develop new business strategies with private sector participation.

“The projects’ design will adopt a climate-intelligent infrastructure approach that will take adaptation and mitigation aspects into account,” said Jesús Navarrete, IDB project team leader.

He said the program will also finance the strengthening of the Suriname Built Heritage Foundation and the creation of key planning tools to guide the old town’s sustainable revitalization process.

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