Urban developer Mori Building has broken ground on a JPY 580 billion ($5.4 billion) “city within a city” in central Tokyo, according to an announcement by the company.
The multi-purpose development, which will feature Japan’s tallest skyscraper, aims to transform a neglected 81,000 square metre (871,877 square feet) area of the city’s Minato ward into a commercial and residential hub targeted at foreign companies and their expatriate executives.
Scheduled for completion by the end of March 2023, the Toranomon-Azabudai Project is predicted to attract 25 – 30 million visitors per year to its three skyscrapers, museums, and galleries set among 24,000 square metres of greenery.
The project will also include a 700-pupil international school – the British School of Tokyo – that Mori Building chief executive Shingo Tsuji said would be the “engine” driving global businesses into the area.
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“Overseas expats have to be able to work, live, and learn,” Tsuji said, adding that Tokyo needed to offer the kind of environment that would attract international companies as the city competes with the likes of Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Straddling Minato ward, the new scheme will link the developer’s completed “Hills” branded developments in Roppongi and Toranomon, accommodating 20,000 workers and 3,500 residents across its total floor area of 860,400 square metres.
Half of the tenants set to occupy the 213,900 square metres of leasable office space are expected to be drawn from foreign-affiliated companies, according to Mori’s chief executive.
Japan’s Loftiest Supertall
The 330-metre-high main tower, when complete, will be Japan’s tallest skyscraper, 30 metres taller than railway holding company Kintetsu’s Abeno Harukas project in Osaka.
The new structure will dwarf Tokyo’s current tallest building, the 255-metre Toranomon Hills skyscraper which Mori Building opened five years ago.
With 204,000 square metres for housing desks and meeting rooms, the 64-storey main tower will contain the bulk of the development’s office space, which will be spread across the seventh to fifty-second floors, with the skyscraper’s lower storeys reserved for retail and its top levels for residences.
The structure will be a rare supertall in a city where the high level of seismic activity requires earthquake-proof designs that have kept the skyline lower than in other key urban hubs in the region.
The developer said that the project’s buildings would incorporate cutting-edge earthquake-proof technology and its own dedicated, 100 percent renewable power supply, making it a “safe city” that would allow people to carry on in the event of a major disaster on the scale of 2011’s Great East Japan Earthquake.
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Mori plans a 120-room luxury hotel with a 3,500 square metre spa complex in the lower storeys of the East Tower, while a total of 150 retail shops will be spread across the three towers and their podiums, which cluster around a 6,000 metre central square.
The mainly residential West Tower will bring the development’s total number of housing units to 1,400.
While the brand of the hotel remains unconfirmed, the developer indicated that it would be distinct from any of the other hospitality projects the company has undertaken, which include the Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi Hills, the Andaz Tokyo in Toranomon Hills and the Park Hyatt Shanghai in the Shanghai World Financial Center.
The developer said it had brought together a cast of international designers to create what it calls “a unique people-centred space” including the designer of the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron – the UK’s Heatherwick Studio – which has devised the development’s public spaces and lower level architecture.
The blueprint for the towers has been conceived by US firm Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, which was founded by the architect behind Manhattan’s World Financial Centre and London’s One Canada Square.
“Far more than a mere grouping of buildings, the project will realise an integrated social ecosystem based on a people-centered approach to planning,” the developer said in a statement.
Office Demand Expected to Grow
The announcement by the Tokyo-based developer suggests that the company expects investment momentum in Tokyo could push through beyond the 2020 Olympics, supported by demand for office space tightened vacancy rates for grade A offices in Tokyo’s five main wards to 0.3 percent in June, as reported by Savills last month.
The property services firm said that a convergence of factors should help maintain demand for new grade A buildings, including several years of strong company profits and increasing capital expenditure.
Low unemployment is also prompting businesses to obtain top-quality offices to help secure their workforces, according to the property consultant.