News of: Monday, December 17 2007,
Amsterdam has announced a big clean-up of the old centre, in order to generally upgrade the central area.
Parts of the Red Light District will have to go. The legalization of prostitution in 2000 has not led to the desired results, in the eyes of the city. Smaller prostitution zones outside the main Red Light district, such as along the Singel canal and along and around Spuistraat, will be closed. Also, the area around the Old Church (the oldest church in Amsterdam) will be made free of 'windows'.
In addition, the city wants to upgrade the main road from the Central Station into town (Damrak - Dam Square - Rokin). Although generally labelled the 'red carpet' of Amsterdam, the road from the Central Station to Dam Square is widely regarded as a failed attempt to a stylish welcome for visitors of Amsterdam. The street is dominated by cheap hotels and restaurants, tourist shops, and other 'low quality' businesses.
Says alderman Lodewijk Asscher: 'We are going to reconquer the heart of the city, and give it back to the Amsterdammers'.
It is thought that many businesses in the area are part of 'mafia like' structures, and also serve to launder money made from criminal activities.
The city wants to promote high quality entertainment, restaurants, cafes and hotels, together with housing and space for the 'creative businesses'. The idea is not to completely abolish prostitution in Amsterdam, but regulate it more, and thus try to fight abuse of women (such as forced prostitution).
The project is named 'Coalition project 1012', after the postal code (1012) most of the targeted area is in.
The project will take at least 10 years, and will involve investments of billions of Euros. Various large shops and hotels have announced to cooperate in the project.
Damrak, old houses
Damrak with view to Central Station