Back in history: First for Fiji

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Two of the condominium units nearing completion at Taveuni in the 1980s. Picture: FT FILE

Taveuni, dubbed the hidden paradise of Fiji, is a beautiful island off the coast of Vanua Levu.

An article published by The Fiji Times on December 16, 1982 reported work on a 102-unit condominium, the first of its kind in Fiji, was progressing well at the Soqulu Plantation on Taveuni About $1.5 million worth of construction work had already gone into the 60-unit first stage of the development which began in March.

The whole project was estimated to cost $5 million. And 52 of the units under construction were bought at an average selling price of $US120,000 ($F268,000). Buyers were North Americans, Australians and South East Asians, according to project manager Mr Ralph Grierson.

“The price is cheap by Hawaiian standards, almost half the cost,” Mr Grierson said.

He said the developers, Soqulu Condominium Ltd, were an independent Hong Kong-based real estate development company with its sales offices or appointed agents in all market areas.

Mr Grierson said Soqulu Condominium was completely separate from Soqulu Plantation Ltd, the developers of the 3500-acre Soqulu Plantation.

“Many people mistake the two companies as the same,” he said.

The condominium site was approximately seven acres of absolute waterfront and gently terraced land. Every townhouse (unit) would overlook the Somosomo Strait, which is world renowned for scuba diving and big game fishing.

The site was also bounded on three sides by an established golf course, clubhouse with dining and bar facilities, lawn bowls, swimming pool, tennis courts, boat ramps, gas station and a general store.

Mr Grierson said all these facilities had been completed and purchasers of the townhouses would have access to them.

Squash courts would also be added, he said.

Mr Grierson said as part of the purchase prices every townhouse would be fully furnished. Furnishings were to include from living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom equipment to crockery and linen items in excess of $12,000.

He said the purchase price also included an inspection trip to the site.

“Many buyers have at some stage come to see the lots and they have been very pleased with the development.”

The 52 units were planned to be completed by the end of 1983.

DC and Allied Enterprises Ltd, who completed 20km of high standard sealed roads, bordered with concrete drains and winding through the 865 lots at the plantation resort, were also the builders of the condominium project.

Its architects were Murray Cockburn Partnership established in Fiji.

The architect firm was involved in all areas of architectural building in Fiji, New Zealand and the South Pacific. About 30 workers, mostly from Suva, were employed at the site and the labour force was to increase to 50 after Christmas, Mr Grierson said.

“Probably every second day somebody flies to Taveuni in connection with the project.”

He said the air service was not as good as it should be.

“From time to time we do have problems of securing seats and reservations for flights. When the project is completed and more people travel to Taveuni, the air services has got to improve.”

Mr Grierson was not a newcomer Fiji. As a professional surveyor engineer and town planner, he was associated with Fiji since 1962.

Apart from being involved with the condominium project, Mr Grier’s son was also busy developing golf courses in Malaysia. Japan and Hong Kong.

Mr Grierson said people who had bought the units at Soqulu would also be encouraged to appoint an ongoing management company to maintain and lease the units.

He said Soqulu Comdominium Ltd was also investigating a 80-room hotel com

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