HULIC wins bid for hotel development on historic site in Nara

Japanese real estate company HULIC has been selected to develop a hotel on a historic site within Nara Park. Nara Prefecture received bids from four companies during the month-long public tender process held in January 2017.

The 1.3 hectare site was originally home to a sub temple, but sold off to private interests in the late 1800s. Since then it has had several owners, including poet Haruyasu Umeda, and banker Kenshiro Yamaguchi. After WWII, the Nara Family Court annex building was built on the land, although it has since been demolished. Remains of the traditional Japanese garden dating from the 1910s remain.

HULIC will pay the prefecture a monthly land rent of between 103 ~ 138 Yen per square meter, and will be provided with an initial operation period of 10 years.

Plans are for 30 hotel suites averaging 80 sqm (861 sq ft) in size, each with their own outdoor ‘rotenburo’ bath, as well as a 130-seat restaurant serving traditional Japanese cuisine using locallly sourced ingredients. The buildings will be designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates (the architecture firm who is designing the new Olympic Stadium in Tokyo), with landscape design by Shunsaku Miyagi of PLACEMEDIA Landscape architects. The landscape firm has designed outdoor areas for the Grand Hyatt and Peninsula hotels in Tokyo.

Construction is scheduled to start at the beginning of 2018 with completion by April 2019.

Nara has been suffering from a shortage in the supply of hotel rooms amidst a tourism boom, and hoteliers are eager to establish new hotels in the city. Last month it was announced that Mori Trust was the successful bidder to develop a luxury hotel within the grounds of the former Nara Prefectural Governor’s residence. Mori is also planning to have Kengo Kuma design their hotel.

In early 2016, Mori also announced that the Marriott International hotel group will open a JW Marriott hotel across the street from Nara City Hall in 2020.

The Justice Ministry has plans to convert the former 109-year old Nara Juvenile Prison into a hotel and are seeking tenders from real estate companies and hotel groups.

Nikkei Business Publications, April 6, 2017.
Nara Prefecture News Release, March 30, 2017.