No brothel for Hamilton's Bank

It's one of the most recognisable drinking holes outside Auckland - and fans of Hamilton's The Bank can be assured it is not turning into a brothel.

Locals have been aghast at reports Auckland strip club king Brian Le Gros planned to turn The Bank, a former BNZ bank building on a prominent site on the corner of Victoria and Hood Sts, into the Waikato version of his White House business on Auckland's Queen St.

The local paper even ran a poll showing major opposition to the plan, floated by another strip club owner, Hamiltonian Tony Garroway.

However, the man who holds a decade-long lease on the building is laughing off the controversy.

John Lawrenson, who owns a number of bars in the city, said it was a case of the facts not standing in the way of a good story.

"I've worked 90 hours a week for five years to turn Victoria St ... into an area that Lonely Planet said last year leaves the Viaduct for dead.

"Realistically, I wouldn't give up one of my flagship sites to allow that to go ahead."

He had had one call from Garroway more than six months ago, asking whether the lease was available, and had joked he'd sell it for $1 million.

The Bank Bar and Brasserie has been a mainstay in the city's burgeoning entertainment district since 1994.

- Herald on Sunday

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