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Downtown Amsterdam coffeeshops may be moved instead of closed

DutchAmsterdam.nl — The council of Amsterdam’s Centrum borough has decided that 26 coffeeshops scheduled to be closed as part of Project 1012 should be moved to other districts instead.

Accepting a motion by GroenLinks and VVD, the council suggests the coffeeshops can stay in business if they are allowed to move to other parts of the city. Normally the city’s rules governing coffeeshops — establishments where soft drugs can legally be bought and used — do not allow for such moves.

Project 1012, named after the postal code for downtown Amsterdam, was set up both to combat organized crime — particularly in the city’s Red Light District — and to upgrade the area.

Implementation of the controversial project includes, among other things, a reduction in the number of prostitution ‘windows,’ coffeeshops, gambling halls and sex theathers. The city council envisions that upscale shops, restaurants and small hotels will take their place. By way of example, properties formerly used for prostitution businesses and purchased by the city have been temporarily turned into art studios and fashion galleries.

Many Amsterdam citizens do not fully support the project’s approach, and see the incongruous mix of fashion studios and prostitution windows as one example of the city’s desire to gentrify the area.

News about Project 1012 has spread around the world, and many travelers already assume that Amsterdam’s Red Light District no longer exists. Coupled with a dearth in tourists as a result of the worldwide crisis, businesses in the popular tourist destination are struggling to survive.

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This post was last updated: Sep. 25, 2011