The centre of Amsterdam is changing and the red light district is shrinking. Well that's the plan anyway but why are these things happening? The answer is Project 1012 which was first proposed in 2007/2008.
They want to "improve" the centre of Amsterdam by closing several of the souvenier shops, coffeeshops, adult shops and red light district windows and replace them with upmarket restaurants, hotels and businesses.
Rambling long version quoted from online sources often with poor translation and grammer-
2007 / 2008
"The heart of Amsterdam is alive: it is unique and dynamic. It is one of the most beautiful, largest and best kept city centres in the world. It boasts streets and alleyways full of character, as well as fascinating canals and historic buildings. There are interesting churches and museums and a huge diversity of cafés, restaurants and small shops.
The city centre has always been a special place. The red-light district should retain the combination of residential and office buildings with night-life; a mix of chic and shady. Therefore the Amsterdam city council wants to give the centre a quality boost. To this aim the City Government is putting forward proposals that will increase the diversity and variety of the city centre and make it more attractive to a broader public.
The Amsterdam authorities want to reduce crime in the city centre and make the heart of Amsterdam a more attractive place. To achieve this, a number of activities with criminal connections (such as some of the coffee shops), or where serious abuse is taking place (such as some activities in the red light window branch), will have to make room for new activities. Although the adult industry and coffee shops will no longer dominate the area, they will not disappear altogether. It will continue to be an “exciting” district that enhances Amsterdam’s unique character.
The activities that disappear will be replaced with new activities that should make the heart of Amsterdam even more attractive to residents, businesses and visitors from home and abroad. The City is backing a number of key projects designed to make a start on this process, and which will give some of Amsterdam’s visually prominent public spots a high-quality facelift.
Why the changes?
The city centre, together with the red-light district, gives Amsterdam its image of a tolerant, contrary and liberal city. This is part of Amsterdam’s enormous strength, so it is important to ensure that the unique character of this district is retained.
But tolerance and freedom do not imply indifference. Over the last few years, an imbalance has evolved between the various activities. Low-level economic activities and crime-sensitive sectors have become over represented. These include coffee shops, window brothels and low-quality bars and cafés.
The concentration of these and other low-level activities in the district has attracted criminal elements, and had an adverse effect on the city’s economic climate and living conditions. The current plans are designed to restore the balance between the activities to its former status quo. The Mayor and Aldermen hope that this will improve safety in the district and turn Amsterdam city centre back into an attractive place for residents, businesses and visitors from home and abroad.
How does Amsterdam intend to accomplish these changes?
The plans will be realised along the following three lines:
1. nine key projects will serve as the driving force behind the economic boost being given to the district;
2. investments will be made in public areas;
3. changes and improvements will be made to activities in a number of streets. In a few cases, some coffee shops and red light windows will disappear.
Which changes have already taken place in the last years?
Substantial investments have already been made in the area over the last few years. Since 2004, the City has worked hard with the police, the judicial authorities, residents and businesses in the red-light district to develop a district-based approach aimed at improving safety. The safety figures are showing an upward turn.
In another move, many brothel-owners put their premises on the market, and as a result almost a quarter of the original number of window brothels have been sold to housing corporations. The City has helped to stage special temporary events in these premises, such as Red Light Fashion and Red Light Design, in the hope of attracting a new category of visitors to the red-light district.
New city council policy has been laid down in an attempt to improve the position of windows and combat abuse. As part of this policy, the Municipal Health Service has opened a centre in the red-light district, where working girl can go for support and guidance.
The City hopes that the current plans will make the area even safer and more attractive.
Does this mean that working girls will disappear from the city centre completely?
No. There will still be room for working girls in the centre of Amsterdam.
The red-light district should retain the combination of residential and office buildings with night-life; a mix of chic and shady. However, there will be fewer red light windows and they will be restricted to specific zones. This will eventually mean that they will be confined to a number of designated places. Approximately 243 of the original 482 windows will remain. A quarter have already been sold to housing corporations over the last year. This step is necessary to combat the abuse that is still far too common in the prostitution sector.
The lifting of the ban on red light windows in 2000 gave Government an opportunity to take firmer control of the sector. But the last few years have shown that additional measures need to be implemented to ensure that abuse in the sector can be countered and prevented effectively.
In addition to the current plans, over the past few years the City has been working on other ways of tackling abuse in the working girls sector.
Does this mean that there will no longer be room for coffee shops in Amsterdam city centre?
No. There will still be room for coffee shops in the centre of Amsterdam.
However, at present a relatively large proportion (1/3) of all coffee shops in Amsterdam are located in the 1012 postcode district. Together with several other crime-sensitive activities, this is taking a huge toll on the district. This is why the plans might end up in a 50% reduction in the number of coffee shops, which would mean a 17% reduction in the city as a whole.
However, it is not the number that is set in stone, but the aim: control and enforcement. The City has therefore opted for a phased introduction. This might eventually mean that more than half of the coffee shops remain.
Are the plans definitive?
No. All interested parties will be informed and consulted during the forthcoming period. The plans will then be released for public comment and participation. They are expected to reach the City Council and the Urban District Council for Amsterdam Centre by the summer.
How long do the Mayor and Aldermen expect it will be before the plans are realised?
It is estimated that full realisation of the city centre plans will take approximately 10 years".
11th September 2012-
"Plan for St. Anne Quarter
On Tuesday, September 11, the Executive Board of the central district approved a plan for the St. Anne Quarter. This is an important step in the 1012 approach. The St. Anne Quarter is centrally located in postcode area 1012, the area between Damrak / Warmoesstraat and Oudezijdsachterburgwal / promenade and stood by the public primarily known for its high concentration window brothels and tourist facilities.
With the redevelopment of St Anne Quarter, the function balance in the area (partly) restored. The new interpretation of the buildings where red light windows are still in the future a wider audience. Several players have been reported to play a role in the redevelopment. The initiatives of these parties are very diverse and are based on the plan mentioned criteria.
The plan follows the earlier closure of 15 red light windows in the St. Anne Quarter, the establishment of temporary new features such as Ultra de la Rue and Red Light Radio, recently, by corporations completed Blaauw Lake Block, the successful Restaurant Anna and the redevelopment of the former Sexy Land . The St. Anne Quarter is an attractive, diverse habitat for both visitors and residents."
"Refurbishing buildings, improving the
appearance of the Warmoesstraat and
the adjacent laneways, finding suitable
entrepreneurs and ensuring a better
mix of businesses: all of these aims
come together in Project 1012. But what will it really
mean for business owners in the 1012
The municipal council has an incentive scheme to
support entrepreneurs in the 1012 postcode area.
Established entrepreneurs who want to change the
nature of their business and new entrepreneurs who
wish to establish a business in the area are eligible for
a subsidy of up to €40,000. The municipal council is talking to investors, building
owners and entrepreneurs to discuss the main points
of Project 1012. Under certain conditions, the municipality
can make it easier for entrepreneurs on Lange
Niezel, a side street of the Warmoesstraat, to change
adult-themed businesses into hotels, restaurants or
cafés that contribute to the diversity of the street.
The Centre District’s new 1012 zoning plan, to be
drawn up in 2013 will make it easier for entrepreneurs
to set up a shop or create housing above businesses.
The plan will also call a halt to the start-up of
souvenir shops, minimarts and massage parlours, it
will no longer be possible to establish new businesses
of these types within the 1012 postcode area. In addition,
a plan is in place to gradually close down the
coffeeshops in the Warmoesstraat, with the last of
them set to shut its doors no later than July 2015.
By 2020, the Warmoesstraat and the
adjacent laneways will attract a wider
range of visitors. There will always be
something going on. The street will
feature an interesting selection of
shops and businesses to
to everyone – Amsterdammers
and visitors alike. The Warmoesstraat
will soon be Amsterdam’s 24/7 street.
Establishing a wider range of businesses
Improving the balance in the range of restaurants,
shops, businesses and residences is an important
starting point in boosting the economic quality of the
area. At present the street’s focus is still on the evening/
night-time period, but soon visitors will also be drawn
to the Warmoesstraat during the day by creative
businesses run by new entrepreneurs and various
specialty shops, both food and non-food. Metropolitan,
RoB Amsterdam and Saint Germain are good examples
of the new range.
In 2020 the Warmoesstraat will boast a rich diversity.
Hotels, restaurants and new projects will provide a
wide range of options, and there will be opportunities
for entrepreneurs offering quality goods and services.
This vision for the street’s future offers a unique chance
to overhaul the range of cafés and restaurants on the
The 1012 Strategy Paper outlines
the intention to phase out the coffeeshops on the
with the last of these due to close in
July 2015 at the latest.
Improving the appearance
Creating new housing in the area is also important.
Some of the floors above shops are currently standing
empty, and are ideal for residential space. Having people living in a neighbourhood makes it a safer
and more pleasant area to be in, residents make it
more liveable and lively, providing social control and
cohesion. Having tenants living in a building also
prevents it falling into disrepair.
In 2020 the appearance of the Warmoesstraat will also
have improved thanks to the more open character of
the fronts of bars, restaurants and shops, buildings
will also have been spruced up. The advertising policies
will be consistently enforced, allowing the facades of
historic buildings to become more visible.
Improving public space
The pressure on public space in the Warmoesstraat is
characteristic of a narrow city centre street of medieval origin. The city council has already repaired the street’s
surfacing and the Centre District is working towards a
more effective method of waste collection.
If the public space is managed effectively, the
Warmoesstraat will be appealing not just as a
destination, but as a thoroughfare. It runs parallel to
the Damrak, offering an alternative route between the
Central Station and the red-light district or Dam Square.
In 2020, the 1012 district will boast an appealing link
between the red-light district and the Damrak/Rokin.
Special attention will be given to the route along
Oudebrugsteeg and Lange Niezel, strengthening
the east-west connection. The municipal council and
its partners are working together on this chiefly by
focusing on a diverse range of shops in the laneways to
make them into an attractive and inviting route across
the area. The so-called ‘KLM buildings’ in the Oudezijds
Armsteeg are a good example of things to come.
The buildings – designed to look like the iconic KLM
Delftware miniatures – house various shops.
Opportunities for entrepreneurs
The Centre District wants to stimulate co-operation
between project initiators, building owners and
investors and is looking for entrepreneurs who share
its ambitions for the Warmoesstraat. The District can
help such entrepreneurs apply for a ‘Housing above
Businesses’ grant. It also has an active acquisition
policy and is able to purchase strategic buildings in
partnership with housing corporations.
Entrepreneurs, building owners and investors willing
to play an active role in the development of the
Warmoesstraat are very welcome and are invited to
contact the city of Amsterdam’s Project 1012".
Much as I love Amsterdam as it is (was) there is clearly a need for a change. No one can defend trafficking, forced prostitution or any other criminal activity. These must be eliminated from the area even if it means a reduction in windows and stricter rules. This however should not be seen as an excuse to go further. Those who object to consensual adult activities are driven by their own prejudices, agendas and man made religious morals.