The Property Developer

The Property Developer

By 1891, the Victorian land boom of the 1880s was over. The wind turned in the other direction as building societies crumbled, banks began to totter and thousands were put out of work and rendered homeless. In the suburbs, whole streets of new houses stood empty.

Although profits from tea and coffee were well down, Edwards and Company was in a stable financial situation. Fortunately for Robert, his bank account was with Union, one of the two banks that did not close during the economic depression of the 1890s.

For those with savings, the economic downturn presented a huge opportunity. The creditors of defunct syndicates were left holding subdivided land, and were keen to dispose of it at any price.

Robert started to buy real estate. Amongst his many property deals, he bought a hundred cottages in Richmond and a large area in Burwood he named Ensign Park, which held 49 home sites. In an example of his compassionate nature, Robert developed a model where the needy could purchase homes from him with a nominal deposit and make affordable, regular payments.

Other purchases included four farms in Gippsland, forty acres in Station Street Box Hill (which today is the site of Kingswood College) and a mansion on 14.5 acres in Elm Street Glen Iris.

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