Minato-ku relaxes floor area ratios to encourage apartment redevelopment

From June 1, 2015, the Minato City Government in Tokyo introduced allowances to building volume ratios to encourage the re-development of old, non-earthquake resistant apartment buildings.

Apartment buildings that meet certain requirements and receive government approval may be re-built to a larger size than would normally be allowed on that block of land. An allowance of up to 200% may be given if conditions are met. This may bring the maximum possible building volume ratio (yosekiritsu) up to 1,000%, depending on zoning.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Building inspection shows that current structure does not meet new earthquake codes (introduced in June 1981).
  • New building area is to be less than 10,000 sqm (for buildings over 10,000 sqm, Tokyo City Government must provide approval).
  • Land size must be over 300 sqm (neighbourhood commercial or commercial zones), 500 sqm (Residential, mid/high-rise oriented residential zones), or 1,000 sqm (Category 1 exclusively low-rise residential zone).
  • Road width must be over 6 meters (8 meters in neighbourhood commercial or commercial zones).
  • Road frontage must be at least 10 meters.
  • A minimum of 10% of the land must be open public space.

Minato-ku has a relatively low density when compared to Manhattan. According to a study by Mori Building in 2011, the average building volume ratio in Minato-ku is 302.3%, versus 631% in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The main factor limiting density in central Tokyo is the large number of narrow streets.

Soruce: Minato City Government Website, June 15, 2015.

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