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Vision for Tokyo
Mitsui Fudosan driving Central Tokyo revitalization

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mitsuiThe artists’ impressions show gleaming tower blocks rising above the Tokyo cityscape, cleverly designed atriums thronged with shoppers, diners and visitors, and open spaces that enhance the greenery that already dots the heart of the metropolis.

And while they may only be images of the final structures, Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. is committed to bringing these buildings to life in the few short years before the eyes of the world are on Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Mitsui Fudosan, the largest real estate developer in Japan and a core company of the Mitsui Group, has ambitious plans to redesign the skyline of Tokyo and offer vast new amounts of cutting-edge office space, but still holds a deep obligation to the district that has been its home for more than 300 years.

“Nihonbashi is and always has been the company’s base and, as a company, we began to feel concern around 20 years ago when the name and brand value of this area began to decline,” explained Toshihiro Mochizuki, leader of Mitsui Fudosan’s office leasing department.

“We have a very close relationship with this neighborhood, the companies that are here, and the people who live and work around us,” he said. “To us, it was imperative that we help to rebuild the value of Nihonbashi.”

In recent years, the company has undertaken a series of major redevelopment projects in an area that was the real heart of the city in centuries gone by, a center of trade, culture, finance, and commerce.

On the east side of Chuo-dori, Mitsui Fudosan has already finished the Coredo project, a series of retail, office, and residential facilities, while further investment has gone into the Mitsui Memorial Museum, the Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, a new Toho Cinemas complex, and a renovated Fukutoku Shrine, which has taken care of residents’ spiritual needs for more than 1,000 years.

The redevelopment has swiftly had a positive impact, Mochizuki said.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of visitors to Nihonbashi, with the urban shopping mall concept of the Coredo buildings proving particularly popular with young people,” he said.

Mitsui Fudosan has also been the driving force behind the acclaimed Tokyo Midtown project, which opened in 2007 and brings together business, retail, meeting, and hotel functions with residential services, green spaces, and cultural attractions such as the Suntory Museum of Art.

Five new flagship projects
With the 2020 deadline fast approaching, the developer is building on the knowledge earned in previous schemes for no fewer than five new flagship projects.

For each of these, the priority is offering top-quality office space in the most sought-after parts of the city, while simultaneously ensuring tenants are able to apply diverse styles of working.

Already well under way is the first of the developments, the Shin-Hibiya Project, alongside the landmark Imperial Hotel and opposite Hibiya Park.

“The building is scheduled to be completed in late 2017 or early 2018, and the aim is not simply to construct an office block, but to add value to the area,” Mochizuki said.

As well as retail outlets and restaurants, the added value in the Shin-Hibiya project—as in the other four major developments—may include the incorporation of five-star hotels, theaters, rooftop bars, high-end dining locations, and even facilities for an international school.

“These buildings will all also benefit from the most up-to-date defenses against natural disasters, with the latest seismic damping equipment installed and a fully operational business continuity plan in place,” said Mochizuki.

“Our first priority will always be to protect the well-being of our tenants, and the disaster-prevention measures will include back-up electricity generators and supplies of water. We will also carry out regular training drills to ensure that staff and tenants are prepared for any eventuality.”

Mochizuki added that the ultimate aim is to bring foreign companies that have shifted their regional headquarters to other cities in the Asia-Pacific region back to Tokyo.

“We are committed to providing a large number of high-quality buildings because we want to attract those multinationals back,” he said.

“In the last decade or so, too many companies have moved their regional operations to Singapore or Hong Kong, but now we have the support of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government to win them back,” he said.

“The current Japanese government is being very positive and aggressive in that ambition, and we are optimistic it will happen, given the planned changes in the taxation system and the broader recovery of the Japanese economy.

“We believe there will be a lot more foreign companies based in Tokyo in five years’ time,” he added.
Mitsui Fudosan’s four other flagship developments include the Nihonbashi 2-Chome Project, which is closer to the company’s home turf and is being carried out in conjunction with department store giant Takashimaya.

Scheduled to open in the spring of 2018, it will be followed the next year around the Muromachi 3-Chome Project, a complete redevelopment of the company’s existing headquarters buildings in Nihonbashi.

Around the same time, the Otemachi 1-Chome development will open alongside the inner moat of the Imperial Palace and with expansive views across the largest green space in the city.

The final development will be the Yaesu 2-Chome Project, on the east side of Tokyo Station, although this scheme is likely to still be under way around the time the Olympic Games roll into town.

“We want to dramatically change the landscape of downtown Tokyo by around 2020,” said Mochizuki. “We have the experience and skills to do that, and we have set our sights on that deadline.”