While some regional districts in Japan are suffering from an ageing and shrinking population, urban centers are struggling with the growing pains from an increase in the number of younger residents. In an attempt to limit the number of children in the ward, Koto in Tokyo is introducing restrictions on the development of family-type apartments. A surge in the population of young families, due in part to a boom in the construction of high-rise apartment towers in the Tokyo bayside area, is putting a strain on the ward’s nurseries and elementary schools.
Residents in Tokyo’s bayside islands in Chuo-ku and Koto-ku are growing increasingly concerned about whether the current transport infrastructure and schools can cope with the growing population. Over the past several years, the area has been undergoing a transformation from what was once heavy industrial areas and shipyards into islands crowded with high-rise residential towers.
The development boom is not the direct result of the coming Olympic games, although the announcement did lead to a flurry of sales from buyers excited by the news.
The Athlete’s Village is expected to be built on Harumi Island – about 1 kilometre from Kachidoki Station on the Oedo Line. It will need to house approximately 17,000 people for the Olympic games, with the housing converted for either rental or sale post-games.
Daiwa House have acquired a 3.6 hectare development site in Ariake, Koto-ku for 42.17 billion Yen (approximately 424 million USD). The land was sold by the Urban Renaissance Agency (UR).
The site is part of the Ariake North District on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. It has water frontage on two sides and is walking distance to Odaiba.
With the total number of new apartments released for sale in May up 50% from last year, and a contract rate of 78.1% in greater Tokyo, there are strong expectations that Abenomics will lead to increased property values. Major banks increased their 10 year fixed mortgage rates for the second month in a row. With rising interest rates and an expectation of rising real estate prices, buyers are feeling added pressure to purchase.
Normally the summer season is a slow one for apartment sales, but with an expected increase in consumption tax next year the last minute rush from buyers is expected to continue throughout the summer. However, the recent correction in the stock market at the end of May might have cast some doubt over the chance of a prolonged recovery in apartment sales.
One new condominium that could be a barometer of market conditions is Skyz Tower & Garden in Toyosu, Koto-ku.
Selected buildings in Tokyo’s Minato ward will be soon be designated as tsunami-evacuation points. Negotiations are underway between the local city council and 16 companies who own buildings of 10-storeys or higher. Approximately 36.5 million Yen has been set aside in the City’s budget.
Several commercial and residential buildings in Arakawa-ku and Koto-ku have already received designations. While Arakawa-ku provided some assistance with the purchase of emergency supplies and rations, Minato-ku will provide all necessary supplies to the co-operating buildings. They are also considering providing assistance with any upgrades to building security so that they may be accessible to evacuees in an emergency situation.
Mitsui Fudosan will be embarking on a large-scale redevelopment of Koto-ku’s Toyosu area from next year. The 100 billion Yen (1.3 billion USD) project on one of Tokyo Bay’s reclaimed islands will cover a 47,400 sqm site. The project will include two high-rise office buildings (31 and 22 stories) as well as retail facilities. Due to the nature of the site, measures will be taken to strengthen the ground against liquefaction and the building will be built using “seishin” (vibration-control) construction. Completion is scheduled for 2016 and Mitsui Fudosan will be contributing 90 billion Yen in capital.
Tokyo’s bayside area, which has seen a boom in high-rise condominiums or “tower mansions” in recent years, is now considered a rather risky area to live since the March 11 earthquake. The earthquake caused land liquefaction and many elevators to stop working, resulting in a newly coined term for residents living on high floors – “high-rise refugees”.
“There was a lot of swaying. It felt like an amusement park ride” remarked a resident who lives in a 54-storey condominium in Koto-ku’s Shinonome area. “I still cannot forget the sounds made by the steel-frame of the building.”