SIT has decided to not continue with the proposed Kelvin Street apartment complex project due to the impact of Covid-19.
The former SIT Council approved the project in October 2019, months before the emergence of Covid-19. Since then, SIT’s operating environment has significantly changed.
Notably: New Zealand borders are closed, the pipeline of international students wanting to study and live in the region is disrupted, with no clear end in sight, there has been a resulting loss of SIT revenue, which will significantly impact on SIT’s finances over the coming few years, and SIT is reassessing the demand and opportunities for vocational education across the region, including in response to the impact of Covid, and emerging developments as Southland reorients itself towards a future beyond the closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.
“The SIT board took the proactive and responsible decision to review our involvement in the project,” said Board Chair Alison Broad.
“We were guided by our mission and our statement of purpose, which is to provide students with quality education and training services,” Ms Broad said.
“Education is SIT’s core business, and while provision of student accommodation is a valued part of what we offer, property development is not our core business. At a time like this, even more than ever, we believe it is important to stick to our core business.”
Ms Broad said that the board reconsidered the project business case. “We concluded that the international student situation and the significant cost of the project placed unnecessary risks on SIT.
“We decided to not continue with the project and we have advised our project partners,” she said. “We have also advised Te Pukenga of our decision.”
The project is still at an early stage – SIT has not received title to any of the land required for the project or resource consent enabling work to commence.
“We have offered our support to HWCP Management Ltd in finding a new partner for development of this site,” she said.
“Our withdrawal from the project maintains SIT’s strong balance sheet and provides greater security to current and future staff and students.
“Funds that were earmarked for the Kelvin Street apartment project will remain available for future use by SIT in our region.”
Ms Broad said that the Kelvin Street project decision does not affect the St John’s project, which will continue as planned.
“SIT is committed to being a key player in ensuring a vibrant Invercargill city centre and to being a provider of quality vocational training in collaboration with iwi, local employers and other educational providers,” she said.