The Greek philosopher Philo's writings describe a great city built in 600 BC. This was the world famous "Hanging Gardens of Babylon". There are various theories the hanging gardens were located elsewhere, or that they are nothing more than a legend. However, that isn't the issue here.
Despite the name “The Hanging Gardens”, obviously they weren’t actually floating in the air. It seems that at the time they located in an elevated position where one had to look up at them, making it seem as if they were somehow suspended. As we turn to the current age, it seems like a floating house or office being built would change the world. Almost like a scene from a sci-fi movie, if such an idea were realised it would change the housing situation in developed countries completely.
Leaving aside these tales of a future world, there is a business model is currently gaining attention for its new way of utilising land. The name is "Sky-store”. A company named "Phil Company" is developing them under the business name "Phil Park". “Sky store” is essentially a catchphrase.
Naturally, these aren't stores literally made floating in the air, but cases where the upper empty space of a carpark is used. For the owner of the land, there is the expectation that the frequency of use of the parking lot will increase, as well as income from the store as a tenant being added (though there is also added risk of vacancy). Also, since new tenants will be suddenly created in areas such as those around stations, for companies the number of choices for store locations will increase. In urban areas, it is difficult for small to medium sized retailers to secure parking lots in terms of both the physical and financial aspects of securing land, but with this business model, there is no need for the shop side to worry about securing parking spaces. In addition, they can claim they have "attached parking", likely helping them attract more customers. (*1)
It's plain to see when you take a walk around town, time-based parking spaces (Coin parking) are dotted around urban areas, especially near stations. In fact, there number of coin parking spots has more than double from roughly 28,000 to 60,000 in the decade between 2005 and 2015 (According to a survey by the Japan Parking Association). It seems that there are many landowners who think coin parking is a better way to obtain stock flow once a building or facility has been demolished, over building a new one. When traveling downtown by car, it is certainly true that there are often almost no options other than coin parking.
Phil Company was founded in 2005, and was listed (on the TSE Mothers Market) in 2016, at an exceptionally young age for a company. The cumulative number of Sky-shops finally broke 100 in 2017. Looking at the previously mentioned number of parking lots, there is still a large scope for expansion. At current, although there are not competitors visible among listed companies, as public awareness of the new sky-shop way of using land increase, or it is judged as a new ripe market, other companies are likely to throw their hats into the ring. If this is the case, there will likely be an acceleration in the number of sky-shops opening in urban areas. Further, as the spread of these shops progresses, recognition of "profitable properties" will increase, and it can be expected to result in a big plus for real estate and land prices surrounding them. In this way, one can say that these sky-shops are a business likely to lead to revaluation of land and real estate.
Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of new Babylon, never achieved completion of the Tower of Babel, that he aimed for alongside The Hanging Gardens. While we think it's currently an unknown as to whether sky-shops will spread and lead to the completion of their own Tower of Babel, what do you think?
*1 Since there are relatively few small to medium sized branches with parking in urban areas, “Parking available” is likely to attract customers.
Sept. 12, 2017