Otemachi PAL Building

As part of the Otemachi 1-2 District Redevelopment, Kajima Corporation will begin demolition of the Otemachi PAL Building next month. The PAL Building, along with the Otemachi 1 Chome Mitsui Building and the Mitsui Bussan Building are all being demolished to make way for two new office towers which are due for completion between 2019 ~ 2021. The owners of the buildings, Mitsui Bussan and Mitsui Fudosan, are expected to contribute around 170 billion Yen (1.37 billion USD) towards the redevelopment.

The Otemachi PAL Building is a 9-storey building with a total floor area of 27,923 sqm. It was built by Takenaka Corporation and completed in 1961. Mitsui Bussan and Mitsui Fudosan acquired the building from consumer credit company Promise in 2011 for 72 billion Yen (approx. 900 million USD at the time).  After the sale, Promise leased the office space until they moved into the SMBC Consumer Finance headquarters in Ginza in late 2013.

The building was originally the headquarters of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan. From 1994, it was the head office of Promise. Earthquake-retrofitting was carried out by Takenaka Corporation in 2002 using their ‘design frame’ system of reinforcement, which resulted in additional reinforcing beams on the exterior of the building and a grid-like design pattern in between.

The PAL Building is also a survey site for the MLIT’s standard land prices (kijun-chika). In 2014, this land had a standard land price of 20,400,000 Yen/sqm, up 6.25% from 2013, but down 17% from the peak in 2008. The 2,760 sqm site would have a standard land value of approximately 56.3 billion Yen in 2014, although these values are lower than actual market prices. When the building and land sold for 72 billion Yen in 2011, the MLIT’s standard land price at the time was 51.3 billion Yen.

Demolition of the neighbouring Otemachi 1 Chome Mitsui Building (formerly the Mitsui Life Insurance Otemachi Building) is expected to start from December 2015, while the Mitsui Bussan Building on the western side of the block is already being demolished.

The new project will include two high-rise office buildings. Tower A will be 30 storeys and 160m tall, and Tower B will be 41 storeys and 200 meters tall. The total floor area will be 361,000 sqm, an increase of 80% from the total floor area of the existing buildings. The buildings will contain retail on lower levels with office space above. Tower B may also contain a 200-room hotel on the top floors.  The 20,900 sqm block of land will include a 6,000 sqm public plaza and green space.

Otemachi 1-2 District Redevelopment 1
The Otemachi 1-2 District Redevelopment

The Marunouchi District Heating/Cooling plant is located under the Mitsui Bussan Building. The equipment will be upgraded as part of the redevelopment.

The block across the street on the southern side is being redeveloped by Mitsubishi Jisho as part of the Otemachi 1-1 District Plan. This project, which has been called ‘Otemachi Hotoria’ includes two 22 and 29-storey buildings containing office space, as well as serviced apartments. Otemachi has been solely a commercial zone, and these will be the first apartments in the Otemachi address. Completion is scheduled for 2015 (Otemachi Tower / JX Building) and 2017 (Otemachi Park Building).

Masakado no kubizuka Otemachi
The Masakado no kubizuka historic site.

Sandwiched between the PAL Building and Mitsui Bussan Building is a small and historic shrine owned by the Tokyo government. The Masakado no kubizuka is where Japan’s first samurai Taira no Masakado’s head is enshrined. Masakado was killed by the emperor in 940 after leading a rebellion. An old tale says that after his murder, his head was put on display in Kyoto for public viewing. One day his his head took flight to return to his hometown. After three nights of searching and landing in various locations, it finally settled on this spot in Otemachi, which at the time was just a hill rising out of the bay of a small fishing village. A shrine was built to honour Masakado, with his head said to be buried underneath.

In recent history, misfortune has struck those who have attempted to disturb this shrine. Following the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, the shrine was destroyed and the Ministry of Finance attempted to build temporary offices on the site. However, several construction workers, government staff and even Cabinet Minister Seiji Hayami soon met with unusual deaths.

During the occupation, the GHQ had attempted to clear the site as part of town planning works, but when heavy machinery moved in to dismantle the shrine, the machines were mysteriously flipped over.

It has been said that staff in neighbouring buildings have arranged their desks so as to not be pointing their backsides at the shrine, for fear of disrespecting Masakado’s spirit.

Old Buildings:
Otemachi PAL Building Otemachi 1 Chome Mitsui Building Mitsui Bussan Building
Built: 1961 1961 1976
Construction: 9-storey 9-storey 24-storey
Floor area: 27,900 sqm 50,600 sqm 122,800 sqm
Otemachi 1-2 District Redevelopment:
Completion: 2019 (final project completion by March 2021)
Construction: Tower A: 30-storey
Tower B: 41-storey
Floor area: 361,000 sqm
Location: 1-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Otemachi 1-2 District Redevelopment 2

Otemachi 1-2 District Redevelopment 3

Kensetsu  Tsushin Shimbun, July 21, 2015.
Mitsubishi Jisho News Release, May 11, 2015.
Mitsui Fudosan News Release, December 11, 2014.
Kenplatz, August 8, 2013.