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Big Changes Ahead for Amsterdam

by Amsterdam.com
​Despite the huge tourism revenues generated, it seems the Dutch tolerance for the brothels and marijuana-peddling coffee shops in Amsterdam’s Red Light District is waning.

Despite the ample revenues provided, many of Amsterdam’s official government representatives have been waiting for over a decade to shut down, or at least partially reduce the proliferation of the brothels, sex shops and marijuana-peddling coffee shops in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, possibly the world’s most infamous center of social permissiveness, and one of the city’s main tourist attractions at the same time.

Now it seems that the many years of controversial arguments, internecine political battles, partial reforms and ongoing negotiations with the owners of the coffee shops, sex shops, gambling halls and brothels to give up the part of the city they have occupied for decades is beginning to starting to show some tangible positive results. According to Project 1012, named for the Amsterdam’s area code and approved by the city elders in 2008, the extremely popular Red Light District planted squarely in the heart of the historic area of the city and crossed by the beautiful Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Achterburgwal canal zones lined with remarkably-preserved 17th-century townhouses, has been calling out for a new approach to the entertainment and spending habits of the thousands of tourists who flock there annually. Despite the income the tourism provides, Project 1012 has called the district an “eyesore” and says the time is long overdue to encourage fashion studios, art galleries, cafes and restaurants, as well as traditional shops like bakeries and florists, to move into the Red Light District and replace the human and other “displays” of dubious propriety there. Scantily-clad prostitutes displaying themselves in red-lighted shop windows may attract plenty of tourists, but it has also attracted many criminal organizations over the years as well.

Project 1012 has had an uphill climb in its gradual, but steady march toward many of its objectives scheduled for completion by the year 2015: Despite intense opposition from many vested interests in the district, the ambitious project has managed to shut-down 192 of the 482 prostitution shop windows, remove 26 of the 72 marijuana-oriented coffee shops, and send most of the sex shows and souvenir shops packing.
The 1012 Project also plans to put more pressure on the property of owners refusing to leave, and close any business that is unable to prove it is not a criminal organization. The Project also plans to buy up any of the remaining buildings that still rent space to sex and drug-oriented businesses.

The city has already purchased 20 buildings from one owner of multiple brothels, and has already closed most of the targeted prostitutes’ display windows. Foreign tourists have already been legally banned from entering the marijuana-selling coffee shops and a full drive to shut down the remaining cannabis shops and other disreputable establishments will begin this September. Many believe the success or failure of the redevelopment campaign will depend on the city’s ability to persuade more reputable businesses to move into the infamous part of the city that still has a questionable future. Even though Holland has always had a reputation for being very open-minded, it seems the Dutch tolerance for the many Eastern European mafia organizations behind the sex, drug, money-laundering, and human trafficking industries in old Amsterdam has finally reached its apex.

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