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Mori Building, one of the biggest players in multibillion-dollar redevelopment projects led mainly by private developers, is putting the finishing touches on two big projects. Toranomon Hills Station Tower, a skyscraper with office space that’s part of the earlier Mori Toranomon Hills project, opened on October 6.
Mori JP Tower, a 64-story, 325-meter (1,067-foot) -tall skyscraper that will be Japan’s tallest structure, is part of Mori Building’s 600 billion yen ($6 billion) Azabudai Hills project, which is set to open this month.
More projects are in the works.
Shingo Tsuji, CEO of Mori Building, says he hopes to help Tokyo compete as a world city and destination for foreign investment. It’s a goal that has been gaining urgency as the Japanese economy has slowed while the population shrinks and quickly ages.
Tsuji took over as CEO from Minoru Mori in 2011. Tsuji inherited Mori’s vision for projects that are transforming key parts of downtown Tokyo with tower redevelopments packed with fashionable offices, luxury apartments and hotels and boutiques, surrounded by urban gardens designed to help Tokyo compete with world-class cities like New York and London.
Japan relies heavily on private companies like Mori Building in redeveloping urban areas. In the past, public-led planning was scant, with much of how a Japanese city grows and changes seemingly left to chance in the rush to rebuild. That means that vast parts of the city are crammed with tiny buildings just an arm’s length apart, along alleys too narrow for ambulances to pass through.
Christian Dimmer, associate professor of urban studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, calls Mori’s approach “a template for redevelopment.”
But he acknowledges there are drawbacks in replacing humble, lively neighborhoods with their pocket parks, shrines and alleys with towers of glass and steel.
Kei Minohara, an urban planner who knew the late Minoru Mori, said he respects his achievement but wonders about tall buildings in which residents remain strangers, rarely interacting with each other.
Life should be about community, he said, but “That is what happens when the defining of lifestyles is left to private developers.”
This article was provided by The Associated Press.