First apartment building to be redeveloped in Saitama

Saitama apartment redevelopment

Residents of a 34-year old condominium apartment building in Saitama City have decided to rebuild after an earthquake-resistant diagnosis showed the building was at risk of collapse in a major earthquake.

This will be the very first case of a resident-led condominium redevelopment in Saitama Prefecture. To date, Saitama only has two cases of apartment redevelopments – both were carried out for urban development and road widening, rather than building age.

The 7-storey building in Omiya-ku was built in 1980. The average age of a resident is over 60, yet the building was lacking in barrier-free facilities. Equipment was ageing and the elevator needed replacing. In 2009, a building inspection found that the structure was not earthquake-proof and posed a danger of collapse in a major earthquake.

To carry out earthquake retrofitting, each apartment owner would be required to pay over 10 million Yen. Rather than repairing the building, the residents voted in favour of redevelopment and demolition began last October. The new building will be 14 stories, while the total number of apartments will increased from 52 to 100. The additional apartments will be sold by a developer, which will help to reduce costs for the current landowners.

In 1974, the number of new apartments supplied in Saitama Prefecture exceeded 5,000 units for the first time. Since then it has been steadily increasing and a 2013 survey estimated that there were approximately 409,000 apartments in the prefecture. Apartments account for 12.5% of total housing stock, with 1 in 8 residents living in an apartment. The ageing population also continues to grow, with 44.7% of households aged over 60 years old.

Approximately 75,000 condominium apartments are in buildings built before 1981 to the old earthquake-standards (called kyu-taishin). There are currently 108,000 apartments in buildings over 30 years old, but this number is expected to almost double to 214,000 apartments in 10 years time.

Source:  The Sankei Shimbun, November 9, 2014.

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