In order to speed up the redevelopment of ageing buildings which may be at risk of causing damage in a major earthquake, the air rights above highways may be sold to be used on neighboring sites.
The Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, Akihiro Ota, has expressed his desire to see this enacted as soon as possible.
The current target of this plan is the Inner Circular Route (Shuto Expressway) in Tokyo. A section of the expressway in Ginza was partially built atop a former river. Under the proposed plan, the air rights above this part of the road would be sold off to private companies. Proceeds from the sale will go towards assisting the redevelopment of older buildings, while developers will be encouraged to build larger buildings in the area.
One of the main barriers to the reconstruction of older buildings in Tokyo is when an existing building is already built to the maximum allowable size. By selling air rights, a developer can work together with the building owners and build a larger building with more sellable or rentable floorspace. This additional floorspace can go towards, or cover the redevelopment costs. If no extra floorspace can be created, redevelopment costs would need to be covered entirely by the existing owners – an expense that is usually unaffordable or not economical.
Source: The Sankei Shimbun, June 12, 2013.