Imperial Hotel up for potential redevelopment?

A nearby acquisition by Mitsui Fudosan has some industry experts suggesting that the1100-room Imperial Hotel near Hibiya Park in downtown Tokyo may be slated for future redevelopment.

The hotel includes the main building that was built in 1970 along with a 31-storey office/hotel building at the rear that was completed in 1983. By the time of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the main building will be 50 years old. With a booming tourism industry, many of Japan’s top hoteliers are expanding, refurbishing or redeveloping their older hotels.

Mitsui entered into an agreement to acquire the neighboring NBF Hibiya Building from the Nippon Building Fund (NBF) on December 18, 2017 for 64 billion Yen (approx. 568 million USD). NBF’s main sponsor is Mitsui Fudosan.

The 26-storey office tower was built in 1984 and sits on a 5,065 sqm block of freehold land next door to the Imperial Hotel. NBF acquired the building in 2005 for 63.5 billion Yen. The low expected yield and significance of this particular location could make it a prime redevelopment target for Mitsui. Mitsui also owns a 33% stake in Imperial Hotel Ltd.

The site was originally home to the Rokumeikan, a grand hall built to host high-ranking foreign and government guests. The two-story building was designed by Josiah Conder and completed in 1883. It was demolished in 1940.

The original Imperial Hotel opened in this location in 1890. It was a 3-storey wood-frame building with 60 rooms. The hotel burned down in 1922 while the Prince of Wales was visiting.

The second hotel was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1919 and 1923. It opened three months prior to the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and survived, although suffering some damage. Discussions to rebuild the 280-room hotel began in 1936, just 13 years after its completion, to replace it with something more fitting for the proposed 1940 Summer Olympics, but plans were cancelled following the outbreak of WWII. The hotel suffered some damage in air raids during WWII.

In 1967 the owners decided to demolish the hotel and replace it with a larger building that could accommodate more guests. The old building was on unsteady foundations, having been built on alluvial mud and had sunk by as much as 1.1 meters since it was built. The central lobby was relocated to the Meiji-mura outdoor museum in Nagoya and opened to the public in 1985.

This March, Mitsui will open the 191m tall Tokyo Midtown Hibiya complex just 75 meters along the street from the Imperial Hotel. The high-rise will include office, TOHO Cinemas, restaurants and retail.

Sources:
Nikkei Style, January 2, 2018.
Nippon Building Fund News Release, December 18, 2017.