A multi-storey erotic centre with 100 rooms for sex workers, “culture, education and erotica” should be located in the south of Amsterdam on Europaboulevard, city officials have announced.
Amsterdam’s mayor and executive have revealed their preferred location for the controversial centre, intended to help reduce nuisance in the red light district with the closure of 100 windows, and also to tackle criminality and provide safe space for all kinds of sex workers.
“The location choice is partly based on conversations with 13 commercial companies which are interested in developing and running the centre,” the city said in a press release. Two other locations, one in the docks of developing Amsterdam north and another at De Groene Zoom by the RAI conference centre in the south are no longer in the running.
The choice has been announced months late thanks to huge controversy around the brothel idea. Both Amsterdam north and Amsterdam south district councils recommended against the proposed locations. Sex workers have demonstrated against closing windows in De Wallen, the night mayor has proposed expanding this red light district instead and a “monster coalition” of interests has handed in a petition of signatures calling for the whole plan to be scrapped.
However, Amsterdam’s executive has defended the decision to proceed with a location in prosperous Zuid. “Research has shown that the Europaboulevard location is the most promising of all the options and has the fewest disadvantages,” said the executive in a press release.
“The location is in a strong, socially-resilient neighbourhood compared with other researched locations in the city. It is outside the A10 ring road and easily accessible by public transport and car. It will be easy to connect to existing events and visitor streams, it is not in a residential area and the nearest homes are on the other side of a wide road…
“Amsterdam city centre must once again become a place where all Amsterdammers enjoy coming and where residents feel at home.”
‘Disconnected from reality’
The final choice will go to a council vote, and the executive points out that the current coalition agreement already includes moving forward with plans for an erotic centre. There are three options for closing red light windows: an exchange system with windows in the erotic centre, compulsory take overs or buying out owners voluntarily. A fund for this, according to Follow the Money, could cost millions in public cash.
Initial reactions to the choice were critical. Claudia van Zanten, formerly a VVD district councillor in Zuid and now an MP for the BBB farmer citizen movement, said her worst predictions were being realised.
“This is a textbook example of politicians making a plan that is completely disconnected from reality, without listening to legitimate objections from residents, entrepreneurs, schools, sex workers, the police, [people representing] nearby parks and its own district politicians, who unanimously issued advice against the intended locations,” she told Dutch News.
“We spoke to hundreds of residents, organisations and experts: not one was strongly in favour. For this council, participation is only for show and support is totally irrelevant.”
A collective of residents from Amsterdam Noord said there was “huge relief” that the “mega-brothel” would not come to their vulnerable area. “A huge visitor stream would have been disastrous for the problems there are already with mobility, public transport connections and pressure on parking,” they said in a press release. “Also, the residents of Amsterdam north would hardly look forward to an increase in criminality and drug nuisance that would inevitably go along with an erotic centre…
“But we stand in solidarity with everyone who is campaigning to prevent an erotic centre in Amsterdam south too.”
If the council votes for the executive’s proposal, further consultations, technical and development studies will follow and the centre could be realised within seven years.