Series: Exploring Tokyo Redevelopment Part 1: Roppongi and Toranomon Areas

Series: Exploring Tokyo Redevelopment Part 1: Roppongi and Toranomon Areas

Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, urban redevelopment is accelerating. If you take a walk around the Tokyo station area, Shinagawa, or Roppongi etc., you can often see the forms of large cranes overhead. The "previous" Tokyo Olympics in 1964 saw dramatic changes to Tokyo's postwar form. And now, Tokyo is trying to transform once more. Kicking off an occasional feature, we'd like to talk about the redevelopment of different Tokyo areas.

In this first piece, we'll be focusing on Minato ward's Roppongi, Azabu and Toranomon areas. The area was once at the bottom of a shallow valley, meaning that walking around it you'll notice slopes, but 3 major lines, the Hibiya, Namboku and Mita Lines, intersect the area making it very convenient. Standing in the centre and looking around, you'll see Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown, and Toranomon hills, as well as large scale commercial facilities and hotels, with high class residential areas or embassies nearby. Facilities and services for executives are fully realised, and the area is popular with foreigners. The region is also one of Prime Minister Abe's "National Strategic Special Zones", which include plans for redevelopment of infrastructure, housing for foreigners, and life facilities such as education.

Driving this development is the real estate company Mori Building Co., Ltd. Starting with Roppongi Hills and Toranomon Hills, they have been involved in various redevelopment projects between Roppongi and Toranomon hills so far. The 3 major areas where Mori Building hold reconstruction projects are "Roppongi 5-Chome West" next to Roppongi hills, the luxury residential area "Azabudai", and Toranomon area". According to them, the total area of their redevelopment sites including neighbouring Shinbashi and Akasaka etc, is 220,000㎡, and the total project cost is around 1 trillion yen.

Among them, particular attention should be paid to the "Toranomon area" and "Roppongi 5-Chome west". In the Toranomon Hills area, redevelopment plans are underway in Toranomon 1-Chome, 2-Chome, and Atago areas. First, in the Toranomon 1-Chome and Atago areas either side of Toranomon Hills a 54 story 550 unit "Toranomon Residential Tower", and a 36 floor commercial office space with a total area of 94,000㎡ called the "Toranomon Hills Business Tower" are planned respectively, and are planned to be completed in 2019. Further, plans are underway for the 2022 completion of the "Toranomon Hills Station Tower" between Toranomon Hills and its new station (Planned to start partial operation in 2020) on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (Numbers taken from the Mori Building homepage). In Roppongi 5-Chome West, sometimes called the "second Roppongi Hills", in addition to Mori Building, Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd. is a major business entity driving redevelopment. According to Sumitomo Realty & Development, the area's redevelopment will exceed the total floorspace of Roppongi Hills. While the details haven't been announced by Mori Building yet, they are expected within the financial year.

Looking at other major redevelopment projects in the same area between Roppongi and Toranomon, just under a kilometer west east of "Tri-Seven Roppongi" (Roppongi 7-Chome) completed in June of last year, in Roppongi 3-Chome, the 43 story 210,000 ㎡ “Sumitomo Fudosan Roppongi Grand Tower” has been completed. Directly next to this, the redevelopment of high-class residential area Azabudai is progressing, and 500m north of there the over 50-year-old "Hotel Okura" is in the middle of being rebuilt. Further north is the "Akabane Intercity AIR" (Nippon Steel Kowa Real Estate), planned to open for business in September of 2017. Further to this, next to the previously mentioned "Toranomon Business Tower" in Toranomon 2-Chome, independent administrative corporation Urban Renaissance Agency are spearheading the sequential rebuilding of Toranomon Hospital, the National Printing Bureau, and Kyodo Tsushin Kaikan over the next 10 years.

When all plans for redevelopment in the Roppongi, Azabu and Toranomon areas are compiled into one map, so many plans have been completed or are currently in progress that one can barely find any parts that aren't being worked on. It seems there will be no end to the sound of construction for some time after the Tokyo Olympics finishes.