Anxious wait for creditors and contractors as 30 St Hilliers projects worth $300 million stuck in limbo

Work has stopped on 26 building projects worth $300 million across Australia following the collapse of the construction arm of St Hilliers.

Administrators to St Hilliers Construction Pty Ltd, Trent Hancock and Michael Hird of Moore Stephens Sydney Corporate Recovery Group, advised that four construction sites operated by St Hilliers Construction Pty Ltd have reopened today including 153 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW – a commercial office refurbishmen, Chullora Marketplace, Greenacre, Sydney, NSW – extension and refurbishment of a retail complex, Mt Arthur Coal Mine, Muswellbrook, NSW – infrastructure works for a mine site and Glenden Mine, Bowen Basin, Queensland – housing construction for a mine site

The Administrator and St Hilliers executive chairman Tim Casey and his team are working together and in active discussions with all clients, with the objective of reopening as many construction sites as soon as possible.

Closed projects range from state government social housing projects only recently awarded to St Hilliers to defence projects, a new school, mining accommodation projects, office redevelopments and luxury apartment blocks.

Some St Hilliers sites have already been blocked off, with one local business operator in The Rocks in Sydney tweeting that a St Hilliers apartment project on Cumberland Street had been blocked off, with a guard standing outside.

“Just went to Cumberland Street and St Hilliers have a big security guard stationed in the foyer. They never did before,” tweeted ‘Stuart C’.

The collapse of the business has placed around 1,000 contracting jobs at risk, with many contractors yet to be paid for projects they have worked on.

Creditors will have to wait more than a week to find out what administrators are proposing for the failed business.

A spokesperson for administrators Trent Hancock and Michael Hird of Moore Stephens Sydney Corporate Recovery Group told Property Observer a creditors' meeting is expected in the next 10 days.

In NSW, current building projects in limbo include 13 social housing projects being developed on behalf of the state government as well as the construction of mining infrastructure for BHP Billiton in its Mt Arthur Coal Mine in Muswellbrook.

Other prominent NSW projects include the heritage-listed Red Cross Building in 153 Clarence Street in the Sydney CBD (pictured above), which St Hilliers bought last year and is currently converting into strata offices.

In Victoria, St Hilliers has been contracted to build the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project (picutred above and artist's impression below) for the Port Philip Housing Association, with the aim of delivering a mix of 210 affordable rental homes and 72 private homes.

 


 

Projects in Queensland include two training facilities for the Department of Defence as part of a $1.4 billion infrastructure project at Gallipoli Barracks in the Brisbane suburb of Enoggera.

St Hilliers is also working on building project within the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland and an accommodation project for Xstrata Coal’s Glenden Mine near Mackay.

ACT projects include a $27 million school in Bonner for ACT Department of Education, a maintenance training facility for the Department of Defence and headquarters for the government’s Air Services Australia.

Some government projects had only recently been awarded to St Hilliers Construction, including a tender awarded in March to take over failed public housing projects in Wollongong, the Shoalhaven and Coffs Harbour (pictured below).

These projects are almost complete, but contractors have not been paid.

Speaking to the ABC, Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser said he was “absolutely livid” at the decision to award the tenders to St Hilliers.

"The Department of Housing ought to be hung out to dry.

"I've got a call into the minister, I'm waiting to hear back from him, but as far as I'm concerned we as a state government must make good these losses,” Fraser said.

According to NSW finance minister Greg Pearce the fate of 12 public housing projects that St Hilliers was contracted complete remains unclear.

The NSW government has organised a meeting with the management of St Hilliers and the administrator to discuss the status of the government contracts.

According to St Hilliers, its other funds management, property development and asset management are all operating as normal.

The websites for these businesses all link through to the voluntary administration statement, and previous press releases and statements about projects cannot be accessed.

St Hilliers joint venture project with New Zealand firm Hawkins to redevelop the prison has been placed in liquidation.

Victoria State Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh is touring the Ararat prison site (artist's impression above) today following the collapse of the joint venture project.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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