Rich listers the Chow brothers are making a habit of spending money in Rotorua, announcing they have bought another major building in the city after the opening of the Pullman Rotorua. Journalist Kelly Makiha finds out more.
Wealthy developers the Chow brothers are showing confidence in Rotorua by buying a large building next to the five-star hotel they opened this month.
While they remain tight-lipped about what they intend to develop in the Arawa St building, currently the home of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, they say they have committed to the buy because they see a great future in Rotorua.
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John and Michael Chow are Hong Kong-born, Wellington-raised brothers who rose from working in a fish and chip shop to having a business empire including strip clubs, brothels, hotels, home construction and commercial property.
They are the directors behind Stonewood Group, which has built Rotorua's first five-star hotel, the Pullman Rotorua, officially opened by Sir John Key.
Company spokeswoman Vicki Chow, the sister of John and Michael, said the deal had only just been settled and the directors would now do their homework on what it believed Rotorua was lacking.
"Whether that is a conference centre, more accommodation, office space or a car parking building, we don't know yet. The market will determine what is needed."
Vicki Chow said her brothers believed in Rotorua and saw it as the "North Island's Queenstown".
"There are going to be a lot of tourists and a lot of visitors coming. Everyone in Rotorua is doing a great job and there is a lot of development going on there. We are happy to have the opportunity to grow in Rotorua and we see a lot of potential."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Herd said it was fantastic news to have a buyer for the building.
"The Chows are one of the fastest-growing property investment companies in the country. They have confidence in Rotorua and that speaks volumes and we are welcoming them to town."
The regional council is moving to new premises, being developed by Tony Bradley's company TPB Holdings, on Fenton St.
The architecturally designed three-storey building was due to be officially opened at the end of this week and the regional council staff would occupy the second floor of the building.
Regional council Te Tuara manager Annabel Chappell said staff would be operational in the new premises by the end of March.
"We've been in our current building on Arawa St for nearly 20 years and the 45 staff who work out of that office are looking forward to the move."
The Pullman Rotorua has been built in the former Zen Centre building on Fenton St and rooms have panoramic views of the city and Lake Rotorua.
After initial delays in construction, the 130-room hotel - the first cosmopolitan international five-star hotel in the Bay of Plenty region - was opened on March 4.