Divisive: The Chatswood high-rise. Photo: Fiona Morris
The Pink Lady, Pretty Baby and Suite 221 massage parlours mirror 33 other illegal brothels dotted across North Sydney - with one major difference.
While their neighbourhood rivals masquerade as remedial massage clinics alongside suburban restaurants and retailers, this trio has muscled in on a private, 23-storey residential complex in the knowledge that the local council and owners corporation are powerless to stop them.
Fairfax Media can confirm it is scenarios such as this that last week prompted the NSW Police Force to announce the largest ever statewide audit of brothels.
A spokesman said on Saturday: ''All LACs [local area commands] statewide have been asked to provide detailed reports on the presence of brothels within their jurisdictions. The audits will detail pre-existing intelligence holdings plus any new information that may be accessible.''
While police have refused to elaborate on what the audit might trigger, Fairfax understands major reforms are in the pipeline for an industry that, in recent years, has been swamped by illegal operators and allegations of sex trafficking.
''NSW Police is working closely with federal, state and local authorities to build a comprehensive picture to assist in determining what action should be taken,'' the spokesman said.
The Bentleigh, in Katherine Street, Chatswood, is home to dozens of families and businesses who opted to invest in an upmarket high-rise community.
A member of the building's management told Fairfax last week how one young Asian female resident was ''propositioned'' at the ground-floor lifts by a brothel client who thought she was a ''worker''.
Another Bentleigh source said tension was ''simmering'' between two of the three rival businesses who are competing for the same clients. And, in the latest complaint to Willoughby Council's acting mayor, Gail Giles-Gidney, a fortnight ago, a resident claimed that families with children now ''feel awkward'' inside their own building.
In a response, dated April 1, the council's compliance unit officer, Steven Balafas, vented frustration about the continuing battle to prosecute one of the illegal parlours, Pretty Baby Massage.
He confirmed a brothel closure order was issued on September 27 ''prohibiting the business from providing sexual services''.
The owner provided a ''written undertaking'' she would cease using the premises as a sex shop, but the council had since obtained ''circumstantial evidence'' that the order was ignored. To satisfy the ''burden of proof required by council'', Mr Balafas confirmed it must now start from scratch to obtain ''additional evidence'' in the hope of ''progressing the matter to court''.
In December, Fairfax Media identified 34 illegal north shore sex shops - 15 of which had previously been served closure orders.
Until new licensing reforms are introduced by the Baird government, Bentleigh residents are unlikely to see a resolution. In a widely distributed letter last week, Strata Title Management branch manager Nicholas Johnson admitted the owners corporation has ''no leverage from their by-laws to formally take action'', adding ''this is a breach of local council regulations and zoning''.
He confirmed the on-site caretaker had also made ''multiple complaints to council to no avail''.