The Tokyo metropolitan government has recently announced plans for six new re-development zones in Tokyo which will be the beneficiaries of relaxed Floor-Area Ratio (FAR) regulations and other construction-related de-regulation, aimed at making these zones into international business hubs.
The newly announced zones are: 1. The Yurakucho station area, 2. Nihonbashi (around Kabuto-cho), 3. Shiba Ura (1-chome), 4. Mita (3- and 4-chome), 5. Toranomon (1- and 2-chome) and 6. Nishi-Shinjuku (2-chome). The government wants the private sector to take the lead in developing these areas into international business hubs that will attract foreign companies and residents. In some of the zones, the government has already designated the companies that will be leading the projects. The final decisions on the urban plans for each area will be due sometime between mid-2016 and mid-2017.
In the Yurakucho station area, the government will work in collaboration with as yet unappointed private sector firms to develop an international business and tourism hub focused on MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) functions. The project will utilize the site of the old metropolitan government building and seek to make the area more pedestrian friendly.
In the Nihonbashi Area, Heiwa Fudosan will lead a project that aims to turn the area into an international financial center. The government will also provide support, such as asset management, for entrepreneurs and investors who want to establish companies in the zone.
In Shiba Ura 1-chome, the metropolitan government has selected Nomura Fudosan and NREG Toshiba Fudosan to develop the area into a tourism and business center based on the creation of businesses related to water, shipping and leading-edge hydrogen technology, among others.
In the Mita 3- and 4-chome neighborhood, the government has tasked Sumitomo Fudosan with developing a center for business exchange and a living environment that will contribute to making it easier for foreign companies to do business there. The re-development of the area will also focus on integrating Tamachi station (on the Yamanote and Keihin Tohoku lines) more into the neighborhood and to make the area more pedestrian friendly.
Toranomon and a New Station on the Hibiya Line
In Toranomon 1- and 2-chome, Mori Building and Urban Renaissance Agency will develop the facilities in the underground portion of the new station that is planned for the Hibiya line.
The yet-to-be named station will be built between Kasumigaseki and Kamiyacho stations, just west of Toranomon Hills. The station will be near the newly opened section of Loop Road No. 2, which is a 40-meter-wide street modeled on Paris’s Champs-Elysees. This section of the road is also known as “MacArthur Road,” and will eventually connect to the Tokyo Bayside area where many of the 2020 Olympic sites will be located.
The new Hibiya line station, along with a bus terminal to be built nearby, is expected to become a major traffic hub. In line with this, Mori Building and Urban Renaissance Agency will develop the area into a “point for international business exchange” and to facilitate mobility within the area.
A Large-Scale Atrium for Nishi Shinjuku
In Nishi Shinjuku, the government has chosen Sumitomo Fudosan to create a large-scale atrium and open space in the area near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings, with the aim of making it more attractive to international businesses and tourists.
Significance of Floor-Area Ratio De-Regulation
Along with the announcement of the six new zones, one of the most significant decisions made by the metropolitan government in its June 16th meeting on the subject was to relax the Floor-Area Ratio requirements in the designated zones.
The FAR (yousekiritsu 透析率) sets the maximum possible total floor area (across all floors of a building) and is expressed as a percentage of the site area. The FAR = Total Floor Area / Site Area x 100.
The government uses FAR regulations to control the overall population density in urban areas and to ease traffic and overcrowding. By relaxing the FAR (ie, increasing the maximum allowable FAR), the government is essentially making it more economical for developers to build taller buildings because of the declining incremental cost of adding additional floors to a building. Allowing higher FARs in an area also tends to lead to increased population density.
Photo: Toranomon is the mascot of Toranomon Hills, the second tallest building in Tokyo and a new landmark in for Loop Road No. 2. Credit: Forgemind.
Sources: Nikkei Shinbun (June 16, 2015), Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Japanese), Japan Today, Explanation of Japanese Building Law by Alastair Townsend.