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Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District to be cleaned up

Amsterdam, Dec. 17, 2007 — The city of Amsterdam is making good on its promise to clean up its world-famous Red Light District. Plans to upgrade the 750-year-old neighborhood over the next ten years include banning window prostitution from all but two locations.

According to Els Iping, chairperson of stadsdeel Centrum (Amsterdam’s Center City borough) window prosititution will allowed only in the direct vicinity of the Oude Nieuwstraat and the Oudezijds Achterburgwal — and then only under strict new rules.

By closing most of the windows the city hopes to curtail both human trafficking and the white-washing of money by criminal gangs.

Today Amsterdam’s Alderman for Finance Lodewijk Asscher will present the Coalition Project 1012, which he describes as a “large-scale and drastic change in function of the entrance to the capital city”.

BBC report.

The project will entail close co-operation between private enterprise, police, the tax authorities and the municipality in order to “spruce up” the city’s “dismal” red carpet. Mr Asscher said: “The days that riff-raff have been allowed to control the most beautiful section of the city’s historic centre are over.”

“riff-raff” is thought to refer to anything from criminal organizations thought to be in control of many of shady porn businesses in the area — to the so-called ‘bralbritten‘ — hordes of British hooligans who, after a beer or two, act like noisy pigs fighting for a spot in the mud.

Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen says the municipal authorities are forced to act because the “romantic picture of the Wallen [Dutch slang for the Red Light District] is long gone.”

Cohen emphasizes that Amsterdam will not forbid prostitution — which is legal in Holland — altogether. Instead, the number of windows, coffeeshops and hole-in-the-wall snackshops will be drastically reduced. In its place the city envisions businesses from the creative sector, such as fashion stores and galleries, as well as upscale cafés, restaurants and hotels. In addition, the more housing will be realized.

Amsterdam’s historic city center

Lodewijk Asscher says the city wants to recapture the historic city center in order to “give it back to the Amsterdammers.”

With seven churches built in the Middle Ages the oldest part of Amsterdam has much to offer tourists and locals alike.

In cooperation with Chinese locals Chinatown will be further developed. The city also wants to engage housing corporations, banks, private investors and businesses such as Hotel Krasnapolsky and the Bijenkorf warehouse.

Red Carpet

The so-called ‘Red Carpet‘ — from Central Station to Dam Square and Rokin — will also be cleaned up.

The gaudy lampposts and shady hole-in-the-wall business will have to make place for more attractive street furniture and upscale stores.

Coalition Project 1012 — named after the postalcode for the area — will involve hundreds of millions of Euros.

Last Friday the city of Amsterdam announced that owners of bordellos, escort companies and pimps will only be allowed to ply their trade if they have an official permit.

Last September the city reached a 25m euro deal to buy 18 former bordellos and turn them into shops or housing.

Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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