Friday 10 July 2020

Amsterdam considers buying up property to boost inner city mix

Sex theatres are shut until September 1. Credit: DutchNews.nl

More diverse shops, making sure housing is available to a wide variety of people and boosting non-tourism related businesses are key to getting Amsterdam locals to value their inner city once again, the city’s mayor has said in a briefing to city councillors.

The silence in the city centre now tourism has dried up ‘underscores the urgency’ to develop a vision for the future of the area, Femke Halsema said. ‘But the inner city of the future is not the inner city of the past. And we will not be driven by nostalgia,’ Halsema said.

Nevertheless, ‘if Amsterdammers are ignoring their inner city because they no longer feel at home there, then something is fundamentally wrong,’ the mayor said.

The briefing focuses on four key areas for action: liveability and public order; local facilities and the economy; culture, and housing. The priorities include improving the diversity of cafes and shops – and this, the mayor said, could involve the city investing in property to better manage the supply.

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Officials are still looking into what should be done about the red light district, including the development of either a prostitution hotel or Eros centre away from the city centre, Halsema said. Three issues, she said, are crucial in this – less nuisance to locals, less crime and human trafficking and an improvement in the position of sex workers.

Coffee shops also come on board and officials are looking into ways to better regulate the market, while tackling the grey area between supply in licenced cafes and illegal suppliers.

The coronavirus crisis is also facilitating research into how the soft drugs market develops without large groups of tourists, but instead relies on local demand, Halsema said.

City councillors will discuss the mayor’s briefing at Thursday’s council meeting and the finalised report on how to improve the city centre will be presented at the end of the year.

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