Fiji-based resort developer Bob Lowres began his long and varied path in the property industry in Brisbane’s inner west in the late 1970s.
Aged 30, he’d had two short but successful careers in retail and airline management after leaving school at 15 to support his family when his mother died.
“In 1978, I decided to go into real estate after realising it was my passion,” he said.
“So, I joined Ray White Real Estate Toowong and started selling units.
“In my first year, I was number one salesman in the western suburbs and believe it or not, I won an overseas trip.
“By applying the marketing skills I had learned with the airlines I quickly became involved in projects and developed a reputation as the go-to person to market their projects.”
A year later he was made a director of Ray White project marketing and was instrumental in much of the early development of Kangaroo Point including the sale of the Peter’s Slip site.
Lowres soon caught the attention of a company that would become the Gold Coast’s project marketing leaders.
“I was approached to join PRD Realty, which was the biggest project marketing agent on the Gold Coast, because they were setting up in Brisbane,” he said.
The role gave him keen industry insight that would inform his own move into project development.
“It became evident to me that a lot of the projects I was marketing, I did not fully believe in,” he said.
“I felt many of them were poorly planned, overpriced and badly finished.”
After PRD, Bob and a partner started their own real estate company, City Land Real Estate, before he bought a LJ Hooker franchise at Aspley.
“That led me to starting to do my own small projects, which eventually led to me doing bigger and bigger developments,” he said.
In partnership, Bob started Fountain Head Developments and Relcorp, which became one of the largest private developers in Queensland.
“Relcorp gained more and more credibility in the market; our projects were accepted quickly, and we prided ourselves on coming from a position of excellence,” he said.
“I think a catch phrase at the time was ‘Affordable Excellence’.
“Our two signature developments were the Waterford project in St. Lucia, comprising seven whole-floor penthouse apartments, and our Highgate Court project in Highgate Hill.”
A move into construction and cabinet-making businesses reinforced to Bob that he should stick with his strengths.
“We quickly learned the truth behind the term ‘profitless prosperity’, so we closed those businesses down and concentrated on what we were good at, which was site acquisition, concept planning and sales and marketing,” he said.
In the early 2000s, Bob’s focus inevitably turned to semi-retirement in Fiji. But the retirement part of that plan was short-lived.
“I became bored with retirement after six weeks and started looking around for development opportunities within Fiji,” he said.
In 2004, Bob, via Relcorp, put Naisoso Island, near Nadi, under contract, heralding the beginning of challenging and turbulent times.
“We fought four court cases over a period of two years to be able to effect settlement against another non-performing purchaser,” he said.
Relcorp eventually bought the picturesque freehold island for $8 million and mapped out Bob’s vision for a $400 million integrated resort encompassing a five-star resort, hotels, luxury homes, retail and commercial centre and a marina.
“And despite two earthquakes in Christchurch which cost us $21 million in land sales, two major cyclones and the global financial crisis, we have produced a world-class development that Fiji can be proud of,” he said.
Today, Naisoso Island has completed and sold 122 residential lots, stage 1 of a 60-berth marina, 40 homes completed or under construction, and is earmarked for a 5-star resort that will be operated by a world-renowned hotel operator.
There is plenty still to come on Naisoso, with Relcorp poised to begin an apartment complex and the release of five large beachfront development parcels for sale.
This article was originally published by www.theurbandeveloper.com on May 3, 2018.