Officials in the Belgian city of Ostend faced a pretty stark choice: turn an abandoned hangar into a museum to honour the town’s maritime industry, or refurbish the site in favour of a new mega-brothel. They chose the latter.
Under the plan approved by the local council, Ostend’s red light district is set to be cleared and moved to the hangar – a building with protected architectural status. This means that the exterior of the premises cannot be changed, but the interior can be renovated in whatever way is seen fit.
As well as accommodating the city’s sex workers, the hangar will also hold a bar, brewery and plaza once the conversion is complete.
The plans have been described as “madness” by the non-profit group Oostendse Oosteroever, which had been campaigning for the hangar to be turned into a museum to celebrate the town’s maritime past.
Ostend Mayor Johan Vande Lanotte claimed the new arrangement would offer more security to the city’s sex workers. Prostitution is legal in Belgium and is believed to employ some 26,000 women.
“The conditions will be better, and the sector will be purified. Abuses will be excluded or certainly limited. There will also be a health centre, an information desk and a room for the police.”
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The complex, which will be run by a group connected to the Antwerp’s super brothel Villa Tinto is expected to open by 2020, according to Nieuwsblad.
Having the brothel in the harbor would mean that the prostitutes, who are now mainly on the Hazegras, will have to move.