Brothel 'like cigarettes - legal but undesirable'

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 12:27 14/11/2012
sin precinct
ROSS GIBLIN
BIG PLANS: John Chow, left, and his brother Michael.
A drawing of the 12-storey super-brothel Chow Group plans for opposite SkyCity in Auckland.
HIGH-RISE SEX CLUB: A drawing of the 12-storey super-brothel Chow Group plans to open opposite SkyCity in Auckland.
palace
Photos: Phil Doyle, Kevin Stent
DEMOLISHED: The Palace Hotel opposite SkyCity as it was coming down.

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The fate of a proposed super brothel in the heart of Auckland city will be decided by the end of this month.

Over the past two days, four independent commissioners have heard submissions on the 15-storey building, which would sit across the road from SkyCity.

The brothel and entertainment venue, called Penthouse Club, is the brainchild of brothers and property developers Michael and John Chow. 

The proposed club will feature a ground level bar and restaurant.  A first-floor mezzanine will host a brothel and another restaurant and bar. A strip club will occupy the first and second floors. A larger brothel will be on the third floor. Hotel accommodation will be on the fourth to eighth floors. Levels nine and 10 will be offices and the top two levels a rooftop bar.

After hearing final submissions yesterday, the commissioners will make their decision in private over the next 15 days.

Over the course of the hearing, commissioners heard a range of opinions regarding the "sex in the city" plans.

One submitter compared prostitution to cigarettes - a "legal activity but not a desirable one" that would degrade the city.

"It will force families with children to avoid the area, reducing economic activity," Roy Menzies said.

A brothel in the central city would cause nuisance, offensive behaviour and create an environment like Hunters Corner in Papatoetoe, he said.

But lawyer for the Chows, Russell Bartlett, objected to discussions about the planned brothel activity - as the hearing was about the building, not prostitution, and a brothel is a permitted activity. 
 
"The applicant is paying for this hearing. There is no application for consent for a brothel, anyone addressing that topic is simply in the wrong place," Bartlett said.

Hearing chairman David Kirkpatrick agreed, stating a review of the permitted activities was not within the panel's authority.

"There can be a brothel on level three on any building in the area," he said.

A number of submitters were also opposed to the apparent disregard for the city's heritage by the Chow brothers.

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The Palace Hotel, which originally stood in the proposed site for the brothel, was demolished after being damaged while under their care.

Westmere Heritage Protection Association co-ordinator Lisa Prager objected to the way the destruction of the building had been "normalised".

"The reason the Palace Hotel is not there today is because it collapsed. It collapsed because the owner (the Chows) failed to protect and ensure all requirements were adhered to during their attempt to renovate," she said.

- Auckland Now

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