$60m school no certainty for city

John Christie
John Christie
The Chinese investors behind a proposal to build $60 million international school in Dunedin are re-evaluating their plans, and could yet shift to another South Island centre, it has been confirmed.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie - who is pursuing the potential development on the city's behalf - said yesterday work to secure a Dunedin site for the school was continuing.

However, the unnamed developers were reconsidering their business model as the project continued ''evolving'', and their original timeline to build the school was now ''probably optimistic'', he said.

''They're actually reassessing whether or not the location's correct here. While they did say this [Dunedin] was their preference for a site, they did have some other options.

''I know they're in constant discussion with people about that. We haven't quite got this across the line yet.''

Mr Christie said he and council staff were still in contact with the developers, and would be discussing the project with them again next month.

That would include checking what their latest plans were, ''and what they require from us'', he said.

He could not yet say whether the project was likely to proceed, but it ''definitely'' had some challenges to overcome.

''There's a lot of work they've got to do, I think.

''I'm hopeful we can still achieve something good for the city.''

Details of the Chinese investors' plans were revealed in February, when it was confirmed they had selected Dunedin as their preferred location for an international school.

The school would offer live-in facilities to pupils studying an international syllabus and would target wealthy overseas families - from China and elsewhere - wanting to send their children to Dunedin.

It had the potential each year to attract hundreds of pupils to the city, create hundreds of jobs and pump ''tens of millions'' of dollars into the city's economy, it was suggested.

The update on the project came days after it was confirmed Dunedin's education sector was working on a plan to double the value international education brings to the city's economy, from $160 million a year to $330 million a year, by 2023.

''Project education uplift'' also formed part of Dunedin's economic development strategy, and aimed to promote the city as a premier study destination for international students.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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