Danchi reconstruction cancelled due to liquefaction

Reconstruction plans for the Sodegaura Danchi public housing project in Chiba’s Narashino City have been put on hold as the recent liquefaction in the area caused by the March 11 Tohoku earthquake has deterred potential buyers for apartments in the new project.

The Sodegaura Danchi was built in 1967 and has 250 units. It is built on reclaimed land on Tokyo Bay and is a 45 minute drive from central Tokyo. A 3-bedroom apartment in the complex can be rented for as low as 60,000 Yen/month (780 USD).

Discussions regarding demolition and rebuilding first began in 2000. Prior to March 11, there were plans to construct a new condominium on the site with proceeds from the sale of the extra apartments to be used to cover the costs of reconstruction. Eight of the 5-storey apartment blocks would be demolished and replaced by a 15-storey condominium with 280 apartments. The residents from the original danchi would move into the new building.

Although the March 11 Tohoku disaster only caused minor damage to the danchi buildings, such as cracks in the balcony railings, nearby coastal areas suffered damage from liquefaction. In the affected areas, water and sewerage pipes were broken and it took almost 4 months to repair the services. The carparking area in the danchi also suffered subsidence and would require 16 million Yen to repair.

Liquefaction to the Sodegaura Danchi site
Liquefaction in Narashino City

The real estate developer that is in charge of the danchi reconstruction said that ground reform work is very costly. In addition, sales of apartments in liquefaction areas are down and they cannot foresee whether new apartments will be marketable in the near future.

The chairman of the danchi’s management association said that reconstruction is necessary, but given the old age of many of the residents, asking them to bear the reconstruction costs may force many of them to abandon their votes to rebuild.

New apartment plans (right)

Because they were anticipating rebuilding in the near future, necessary large scale building repairs and maintenance were put off. Concerned that reconstruction may not go ahead, danchi residents are now requesting experts examine the current buildings’ earthquake resistance.

Narashino City in 1956. The Sodegaura area was constructed on the mudflats pictured above.
The Sodegaura Danchi in 1967
An apartment interior

The Yomiuri Shimbun, November 20, 2011.

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