Friday, March 1, 2013
Redevelopment Puts Tokyo's Kyobashi In Spotlight
TOKYO (Nikkei)--A number of big redevelopment projects are under way in central Tokyo's Kyobashi district, transforming an area long characterized by nondescript office buildings into a new business hub.
- Tokyo Square Garden, a 24-story office building to be completed this month in the Kyobashi district, has a floor space of about 3,400 sq. meters, among the largest of all buildings completed after 2000 near Tokyo Station.
Sandwiched between Nihombashi, the traditional center of Tokyo, and the Ginza shopping district, Kyobashi was once a thriving commercial area southeast of Tokyo Station. Now it is looking to recapture its faded glory.
Tokyo Tatemono Co. (8804) and other developers are putting up Tokyo Square Garden, an office tower on Chuo-dori Avenue, just north of the Tokyo Expressway, scheduled for completion this month.
The 24-floor office building, which will open April 18, has a floor area of about 3,400 sq. meters and will house 30 shops on its lower levels, including outdoor goods retailer MontBell Co.'s flagship store. Tire maker Bridgestone Corp. (5108) will move its headquarters to Tokyo Square Garden in January 2014.
"The building has been specially designed to meet the demands of globalization and environmental friendliness," said a Tokyo Tatemono official. "We hope to draw more people from the Ginza and Nihombashi areas."
It will also include a day-care center and a clinic with English-language services.
Chance To Shine
The Kyobashi area has long underperformed as a commercial district despite its convenient location. By contrast, the Marunouchi district, on the opposite side of Tokyo Station, is flourishing, with many commercial buildings and office complexes springing up in recent years.
But now, many large developments are in the pipeline in the Kyobashi district along Chuo-dori Avenue. Nippon Tochi-Tatemono Co. and other developers are renovating the entire block where the historic Meidi-Ya building is located.
The Meidi-Ya store, an imported-food shop, was built in 1933 and is Japan's oldest surviving building connected to a subway station. It has been designated a tangible cultural property of Chuo Ward.
The developers will preserve the old building, upgrading its earthquake resistance and putting up a 32-story office and commercial complex around it. Construction will begin in autumn and is scheduled for completion in summer 2016.
Just to the north is another redevelopment, Kyobashi Trust Tower. Mori Trust Co. plans to complete this 21-story building in February 2014. The tower is expected to have offices on the upper floors and branch of an overseas hotel chain on the lower levels. The company hopes to take advantage of its location -- only minutes from Tokyo Station on foot -- to attract businesspeople during the week and tourists on the weekend.
Opening The Doors
Historically, the Kyobashi district consisted of many small blocks. This means dealing with quite a few landowners and leaseholders and creating obstacles to redeveloping the neighborhood.
All this changed after the government designated the district as a priority urban renewal area in 2002, promising to allow greater building capacity and provide tax breaks and other assistance for interested parties. This has given a much-needed boost to Kyobashi's revival.
The district is well-known for being home to a number of long-established restaurants and venerable companies. Back in the Edo period (1603-1867), a bridge that spanned a river in the area served as an important milestone because it was the first bridge along the route from Nihombashi to Kyoto. Such historical significance adds to the air of tradition surrounding the neighborhood.
Expectations are high that the Kyobashi district can serve as a model for urban redevelopment that seamlessly integrates the old and the new to create new life.
(The Nikkei, March 1 morning edition)