Long-time Canberra developer Bob Winnel from Friday leaves the day-to-day operation of the Village Building Company as the final approvals of his South Tralee development is imminent 14 years after it was first proposed.
Mr Winnel retires as managing director of the company but remains its largest shareholder and a non-executive director.
He hands over the reins to new chief executive officer, Travis Doherty, originally from Melbourne, who has worked for Ernst and Young, Simplot Australia and the National Australia Bank running large commercial operations.
"I had a craving to run a business rather than stand back and observe," Mr Doherty, 41, said.
"I come from a family of tradies but I went off in a different direction. It's always been in my blood, that passion for building and development."
Mr Winnel founded the Village Building Company in 1988, then a cooperative of home building members within the Master Builders Association, set up to ensure its members a competitive supply of land.
The company's early projects included the development of large sites in the Tuggeranong Valley and the Golf Course Estate in Belconnen.
It has since completed more than 14,000 dwellings, sites, houses and apartments, and also moved interstate with developments in Brisbane, Melbourne, Wollongong and Coffs Harbour.
Mr Winnel also saw the Village Building Company contribute $1 million to establish the visitors' centre at the National Arboretum.
He has also been a board member and Village has been the major sponsor for the Voices in the Forest event.
Mr Winnel said he would still have a role in chairing the board's committee on acquisitions and investors.
After leaving the public service in 1976, Mr Winnel moved into the housing industry, developing small projects initially. One of his early works was the Argyle Square development in Reid, which was 146 townhouses built in 1980.
His proudest achievement was creating affordable housing in Canberra, when other companies weren't interested in catering for the "average wage earner".
"We've always focused on the more affordable end of the market and I think a lot of the changes we made over the years, as governments sought to get more revenue out of raw land, we responded by creating small lots, courtyard lots and a mix of housing types," he said.
The NSW Government approved the rezoning plans for South Jerrabomberra aka South Tralee development in November 2012 after the company's long stoush with the Canberra airport, which was concerned about the proximity of the development to the flight path.
Development applications for the first two subdivisions, comprising 350 housing lots, are before the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.
Mr Travis hoped they would be approved within three months and the remaining 200 lots on sale by the end of the year. A total of 150 lots had already been sold, pending approval.
Mr Winnel said South Jerrabomberra would eventually, over a decade, comprise about 1200 housing lots providing for 2000 residences with associated infrastructure including shopping centre, sporting facilities and school.
"We complied totally with the planning system and the planning system did not function in taking 10 years from the first rezoning. I think it showed very dysfunctional government decision-making," he said of the Tralee saga.
"But we've put it behind us and we're looking forward to completing the rezonings of the land that the minister decided were available back in 2012 and we're looking forward to the completion of the DAs."
Mr Doherty, who is married with two children, said the company would always be proudly Canberra-based but he wanted it to reinforce its presence along the eastern seaboard.
"A key objective is to deliver more returns to shareholders and investors," he said.