Amsterdam is to begin a 10-year project to clean up the city’s notorious red light district.
The plans include halving the number of prostitution windows, closing cannabis cafes and cracking down on companies which operate as a front for money laundering.
The project focuses on the city centre neighbourhood with the postcode 1012, a network of narrow streets and alleys in the oldest part of town, and sets down in minute detail what will be allowed and where.
Prostitution is to be concentrated in two zones: around the Oudezijds Achterburgwal where 214 windows will be permitted, and the Oude Nieuwstraat, where there will be 29. Half of the coffee shops where small amounts of cannabis is sold over the counter will be closed, a total of 38.
Some of the mini supermarkets, phone shops, massage parlours, sex shops and shops selling drugs paraphenalia will also go. Instead, the council wants to attract high-quality shops and restaurants to the area.
The aim of the project is also to ‘improve the quality of the centre,’ says Amsterdam city council in a statement. It must become ‘one of the most exciting, most varied and most interesting city centres in Europe… and be attractive to a wider public.’
The council expects the revamp, which also includes new hotels and underground parking, to cost up to €40m.
The council has already shut down or bought out the owners of around 25% of the brothel windows because of their alleged criminal connections.
The plan stems from a major enquiry into crime in the city’s red light district which was published in 1998. The report warned the area was largely under the control of organised crime.
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