SIT central city apartment project now at risk

Southern Institute of Technology’s project to build an apartment building on Invercargill’s CBD block is at risk.

Chief executive Penny Simmonds said yesterday the project was "on pause" due to the challenges New Zealand faced with the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said SIT’s council has decided to defer the final decision about the project to August.

"It is just because of the situation we are facing with international students not being able to come to New Zealand ... We thought it would be the wrong time to make a final decision.

"But we are still spending a lot of money and a lot of time on all ... design, planning and consents. In September last year, the Invercargill Licensing Trust and SIT announced they would join forces to plan and develop a link between the Kelvin Hotel and SIT's proposed 47-room apartment building to create a fully operational training hotel, a New Zealand first.

Mrs Simmonds said other projects were under way, including SIT’s Creative Centre at Tay St.

The project will transform St John's Anglican Church building, hall and grounds into a centre with co-working areas for graduates and postgraduate students.

She admitted it was "a difficult moment" but tried to be optimistic as SIT would be able to work in 80% of its capacity during the nationwide lockdown.

The Southland polytechnic has been investing in distance learning programmes since 2003, but after the Covid-19 outbreak, the management staff noticed an urgency in the demand.

"We fast-tracked this work and all our programmes now have at least three months [of content] in our online platform. All our support and systems are also available."

She said the total of students affected by Covid-19 "who would not be able to go to campus" was 13,000 but all students would be able to use the online platform to continue to work through their qualification.

"No programme was cancelled."

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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