Omotesando’s Children Castle and UN University to be redeveloped from 2029

After agreeing to purchase the National Children’s Castle building and land from the national government this year for 60 billion Yen (approx. 543 million USD), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is firming up plans to completely redevelop the site along with adjoining sites from 2029 onwards.

The land parcels would be redeveloped into a large-scale complex covering a 46,000 sqm block of land fronting Aoyama-dori Street. One of the adjoining sites is that of the United Nations University. The Tokyo government has been leasing this land to the UN University free of charge. The building was designed by noted architect Kenzo Tange and completed in 1992. Other adjoining parcels that may form part of the redevelopment include the former Aoyama Hospital located at the rear (currently a home builder display village), and Cosmos Aoyama.

The Japanese government opened the Castle in 1985. The 13-storey building had a gym, pool, arts studio, hall, roof garden, seminar rooms and office space. In 2012, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced the planned closure of the building, citing its age and high maintenance costs. Renovations required to keep it operating were estimated at 12 billion Yen. Former Tokyo Governor Masuzoe had previously reached an agreement to acquire the property for 37 billion Yen (approx. 330 million USD), demolish it and relocate the Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital to the site but these plans were overturned in 2016 by Governor Koike.

The site, along with the neighboring United Nations University, was originally the Aoyama Depot for the Tokyo tram network which stopped running in the 1960s. During the Edo period, this site formed part of the expansive grounds of the Inaba daimyo family’s Tokyo mansion. In the Meiji era, the property fell under government ownership. The only remaining trace of the former Edo-period mansion is a small pond located at the rear of the home display village.

Sources:
The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun, February 22, 2019.
The Asahi Shimbun, February 12, 2019.
Tokyo MX News, February 13, 2019.

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