Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Chows return super-brothel site to market

Developers blame tough liquor-licensing battle for decision to sell prime central-city propert.

Michael Chow and his brother subsequently applied to build a super-brothel on the vacant land which is now being sold. Photo / Natalie Slade
Michael Chow and his brother subsequently applied to build a super-brothel on the vacant land which is now being sold. Photo / Natalie Slade

Strip-club owners the Chow brothers are selling the prime central-city Palace Hotel site where they had planned to build a hotel and brothel.

John and Michael Chow announced last month that they had dropped plans for their controversial super brothel opposite SkyCity casino.

They blamed a bruising liquor-licensing battle for their two clubs in Karangahape Rd and Gore St, which led them to "balance the risks and make a commercial decision".

The brothers said the site was costing them money, and they were in the process of making a firm decision.

The 522sq m freehold land at 73-73 Victoria St West is being marketed by Craig McKenna of Bayleys as a "unique opportunity ... in the heart of the entertainment precinct of Auckland" for redevelopment as a boutique hotel, residential apartments, office tower, retail or leisure improvements. The land will be on the market until May 22.

The hotel site has had a chequered history. It was purchased by the Chow brothers to be turned into a brothel.

In November 2010, structural damage forced the new Auckland Council to demolish the building. The Chows subsequently applied to build a super-brothel on the vacant land.

In December 2012, four independent hearing commissioners appointed by the Auckland Council approved a resource consent application for a hotel, entertainment and office space, including brothel activities over two floors, with 13 brothel rooms and a brothel entertainment area on the ground mezzanine.

The commissioners recognised the "depth of feeling" expressed against the brothel - of the 221 submissions lodged in relation to the application, more than 200 objected - but concluded the activity of a brothel was a permitted activity on the site.

Denise Ritchie of Stop Demand Foundation, a group combating sexual exploitation, said the site offered a great opportunity to a prospective purchaser to showcase many positive aspects of Auckland.

"If it is to become a venue for entertainment, we hope it will be for purposes that will enhance Auckland, be accessible equally to men and women, and impress visitors to our city," Ms Ritchie said.

Michael Chow did not return calls last night.

Plans dashed

2008: Chow brothers purchase Palace Hotel for $3.3 million for use as a brothel
November 2010: Hotel demolished after large cracks appear during renovations
December 2012: Resource consent granted for super brothel on site
March/April 2014: Chows abandon plans for brothel and put the site up for sale

- NZ Herald

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