Business

Six-decade run of Japan's first private condominium to end with redevelopment plan

by Alex Martin

Staff Writer

The nation’s first privately developed condominium project that helped usher in a postwar apartment boom is to undergo demolition and redevelopment, drawing the curtain on its six-decade history.

Yotsuya Co-operative House, a five-story, 28-apartment condominium located in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, was completed in 1956 and had been known as the first to offer apartments for sale under monthly installment plans. The price for a new, three-bedroom apartment at the time was ¥2.33 million — around 20 times the annual salary of a university graduate.

| ASAHI KASEI REALTY & RESIDENCE CORP.

The site will be redeveloped by Asahi Kasei Realty & Residence Corp., which plans to convert it into a six-story, 51-apartment condominium by 2019. Demolition is set to begin later this month.

Condominiums for the masses first appeared in 1953 with the completion of the Miyamasuzaka Building, an 11-story high-rise in Shibuya Ward developed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Redevelopment of the condo began last year and is slated to be completed in 2020.

During the 1950s, condominiums had been for the affluent, and the Miyamasuzaka Building featured state-of-the art services, including elevator operator girls and central heating. Yotsuya Co-operative House, completed three years later, featured two-story maisonette-type units in 24 of the 28 apartments.

| ASAHI KASEI REALTY & RESIDENCE CORP.

Demand for condominiums first took off in the 1960s as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics triggered a major building boom that transformed Tokyo’s infrastructure. That demand for apartments continued to grow as the mass migration from the countryside to cities continued throughout the 1970s.

In 1981, earthquake-proof standards were beefed up following a massive quake in Miyagi Prefecture.

Of the estimated 6.33 million condominium apartments in Japan as of the end of last year, roughly 1 million units are in buildings completed before the new quake-proof standards were introduced, according to government statistics. Some 1.7 million are in buildings 30 years or older, and 41,000 of those units are in buildings built over five decades ago.

In a nation where building life-spans are generally shorter than in America and Europe, many older apartments become harder to sell and have a higher vacancy ratio versus new buildings.

| ASAHI KASEI REALTY & RESIDENCE CORP.

Tearing down condos or rebuilding them can be a complicated matter both financially and in terms of achieving a consensus among its occupants. As of April 1 last year, there were only 252 condominiums that had been in redevelopment.

Reconstruction plans for Yotsuya Co-operative House began in 2006 and residents voted in favor of the move in May this year. A majority of the apartment owners plan to move into the new building. Of the 51 new apartments in the planned condominium, 24 will go to residents while the rest will be sold.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5