Hamilton Mayor Andrew King says the two developers who set up a company to buy buildings between the city's newest park Victoria on the River and Embassy Park would have done it because they had a "heart for the city" like him and were not the "profiteering type".
King told the Herald he did not know commercial property developers Matt Stark and Leonard Gardner had set up a joint venture called VOTR2 WRT Ltd, but said he was confident they would only be doing it because of their passion for the city.
"And these guys aren't profiteering type guys. These guys are guys who only have a heart for the city. They wouldn't take advantage of the council like that. These guys aren't like that. These guys aren't there to hear some council direction and then come in and take advantage of it - neither of them would do that."
When asked how well he knew Fosters commercial development manager Leonard Gardner and Stark Property director Matt Stark, King said he only knew them through his role as mayor.
"I know them well enough that they are building a theatre for the city. I know them well enough that they are very good property developers. What I know about them is that they wouldn't take advantage of the city like that and I'm sure about that.
"They want the best for that area - there's no way they would take advantage of the vision of the city.
"I'm not friends with them, neither of them have been to my house or I've been theirs, I don't know them socially, I've never been out with them.
The three men all attend Gateway Church on Victoria St, but King said more than 1000 people attended the congregation and they only said hi and bye at church.
"I don't talk to them at depth there [at church]. These guys aren't in my group of friends, they are people I know through business and being mayor."
Gardner told the Herald it was a coincidence the three of them attended Gateway Church.
"There's no gain in this for us. All we are trying to do is help facilitate something for Hamilton.
"Whether we are to do it or city council is going to do it, we are just trying to help create some public amenity that's desperately needed in Hamilton and help rejuvenate it."
Stark said he first met King when he was a councillor at an event with former mayor Julie Hardaker and only knew him in his professional capacity. He did not even support him in his 2015 mayoral campaign.
Stark did not often see him at the large church because they usually attended at different times.
"I didn't even know Andrew King went there until he was a councillor."
The Herald revealed this week Stark Property director Matt Stark and Foster commercial development manager Leonard Gardner had set up a company called VOTR2 WRT before the council told the public about its plans to buy and build properties on Victoria St to extend the new urban park. The developers had been given the heads up from council prior to the plans being made public in early December 2017.
King was also adamant that if Hamilton City Council's own plans to buy and bowl the buildings on Victoria St proposed in the council's 10-year long term plan went ahead they would sell any buildings to the council at the price they paid for them or at market value.
King said he believed the developers would only go ahead with their own plans if the council's plans for the larger park fell over.