Tokyo skyline reaches for new heights with $7.5b Mori project

In a photo from Aug 6, 2019, a Vietnamese policeman approaches anti-China protesters as they hold placards during a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In a photo from Aug 6, 2019, a Vietnamese policeman approaches anti-China protesters as they hold placards during a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Mori Building Co is spending about $7.5 billion on a massive real estate project in Tokyo, creating a city within a city, with everything from offices, a British school and vegetable gardens to the tallest building in Japan.

The Japanese developer known for its "Hills" brand of properties said on Thursday (Aug 22) it had started construction this month on the Toranomon-Azabudai redevelopment project, near the Roppongi district, with costs estimated around 580 billion yen (S$7.5 billion). Completion is slated for March 2023.

The project, yet to be officially named, will include three high-rise towers for about 20,000 office workers and 3,500 residents. The 64-floor main tower will reach 330m.

That will surpass the 300m Abeno Harukas in Osaka, which opened in 2014, to become the country's tallest building - at least until around 2027 when Mitsubishi Estate completes a 390m high-rise at its Tokiwabashi project near Tokyo station.

Earthquake-prone Japan has lagged behind other countries in building height but its skylines are creeping higher as advanced seismic designs minimise swaying caused by quakes as well as wind. The 634m Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest broadcast tower, opened in 2012.

This upward climb is in line with the strategy of Mori Building, whose late co-founder Minoru Mori had long advocated his vision of compact, "vertical garden cities" aimed at improving quality of life in the sprawling metropolis.

Mori Building said the 8.1 hectare complex would be centred around a 6,000 sq m park. Total floor area will be 860,400 sq m, surpassing Mori's Roppongi Hills to make it the developer's biggest-ever project by floor space.

The complex will host the British School in Tokyo with approximately 700 students, to attract global companies and overseas workers, Mori said.

It will also hold a yet-to-be announced luxury hotel brand debuting in Japan, as well as a large-scale food market, museums and galleries and a medical facility to promote wellness.

The project highlights developers' bullishness on Tokyo beyond the 2020 Olympics. Average land prices in the metropolitan area are at their highest since the 2008 financial crisis, data from the Japan Real Estate Institute show, as the economy has recovered and construction and infrastructure projects gather pace ahead of Tokyo 2020.