Red Light District cleanup project failed, Amsterdam auditors say

Amsterdam's Red Light District
Amsterdam's Red Light DistrictRungbachduong / Wikimedia Commons

The municipality of Amsterdam's ambitious project to clean up the city center only partially succeeded, the Amsterdam Metropolitan's Court of Auditors said in a report about the project. The Red Light District is still marred by crime and human trafficking, according to the court, NOS reports.

Project 1012, named after the postcode of the old Amsterdam city center, launched almost ten years ago under the initiative of then alderman Lodewijk Asscher. The intention was to breathe new life into the city center.

To achieve this, the municipality wanted to close coffeeshops, souvenir shops and massage parlors, and firmly tackle prostitution in the Red Light District. The plan was to replace these with neater restaurants and clothing stores.

Over the past 10 years dozens of window brothels and coffeeshops were indeed closed. But while this seems to be a success, there is still a monoculture in the area mainly due to tourist shops and mini supermarkets repeatedly opening in the center, according to the Court.

What went wrong, the Court concludes, is that the municipality did not have the financial means to purchase the vacant buildings. The biggest problem was that there was too little political support for the project, especially after Asscher left Amsterdam to become Deputy Prime Minister in The Hague. The project was also too ambitious and needed more time allocated to it.

The new city council accepted the report and plans to adopt the recommendations therein, according to the broadcaster. Amsterdam already implemented a ban on new tourist shops opening in the city center.