Prostitutes in Utrecht are concerned that rooms in the city’s new red light zone will be too expensive for them to rent, the Volkskrant said on Thursday.
The council is keen to cover all the costs it has made since the old zone was closed down in 2013 because of human trafficking concerns and that means rents on the new rooms are likely to be higher, the paper says.
The contract to build the new zone was won by building company BeJa, which is now in discussions with various parties which want to run the brothels. Rents have not yet been determined, but according to the Volkskrant, BeJa offered the council more than the annual ground rent of €635,000 for the site.
That fee will now be passed on to the prostitutes in the form of part of their rent for a room, the paper says. The annual ground rent fee covers the cost of closing the old district, drawing up the plans and managing the district.
Mayor Jan van Zanen has admitted that the high bid played a role in awarding the contract to BeJa. ‘We had to put the contract out to tender because otherwise it could have been considered illegal state support, according to our legal team,’ he said
However, Van Zanen says he cannot guarantee that the rent will not be higher than in the old district, where women paid €540 per week for half days. ‘But we are making sure the builder and the brothel managers don’t go for high margins, which will make the rent too expensive. Then they won’t get a licence,’ he said.
The new district will have 162 prostitution rooms and brothel managers will be able to run up to 32 rooms each.
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