Hall 18 at Prague Market, location of the Showpark brothel via Lucas Nemec

Prague’s Showpark brothel won’t shelter homeless, found to be unsuitable for accommodation

Showpark can only be used to quarantine the homeless temporarily, and only if all other suitable spots are filled

A plan to use the Showpark brothel in Prague’s Holešovice district to quarantine the homeless will not move forward, as the location is unsuitable.

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Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) sent a letter on March 26 telling the operators of ShowPark in Prague’ Market (Pražská tržnice) to vacate the premises so the city could move in the homeless. Currently, many homeless people have no way to observe the nationwide quarantine restrictions to stop the spread of novel coronavirus.

Hřib said that if the owners did not comply in 72 hours, he would use emergency measures to force them.

Showpark and the city have been involved in a long legal dispute, with the city wanting the operators of Showpark to vacate the landmark building at the edge of Prague Market.

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The location, however, was not recommended by regional hygienists, as it is unsuitable for living.

“The Regional Hygiene Station stated that the building is not suitable for long-term accommodation of high-risk groups due to its wear and tear,” the mayor’s advisor Martina Vacková told news server Novinky.cz.

After Hřib sent his letter, the brothel operator, Zbyněk Matela, said that the space had not been approved for accommodation and was unsuitable due to its ventilation and other issues. That was confirmed on March 30 by hygienists.

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Vacková said the space can only be used for temporary accommodation, and only if all other more suitable locations are filled. Once those paces are filled, then ShowPark will have to vacate the premises.

“Currently, there is no need to use this building for emergency accommodation,” Vacková said.

Prague City Hall wants to get rid of the city’s largest brothel as part of the plans to renovate 125-year-old Prague Market into a shopping and cultural hub. Before the pandemic, City Hall had already started court proceedings against Eroc, the firm that operates Showpark, to make them leave the brick hall near the market’s entry.

A district court ruling in 2019 was in favor of the city, but was subject to appeal. That ruling said Eroc had to leave in 30 days and pay 248 million CZK in back rent.

Eroc does not have a contract with the city to use the location. Eroc, which began operating the brothel in 1998, only has a contract with the former owner, Delta Center, which was supposed to redevelop the area in the 1990s and 2000s but failed to do so. The entire Pražská tržnice is now owned by the City of Prague.

The brothel covers nearly 2,000 square meters, and had 158,000 visitors last year.

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