Chiba’s Namegawa Island to be redeveloped into hotel

The property in 1975.

There are plans to redevelop the former Namegawa Island zoo and garden in Chiba Prefecture into a 228-room resort hotel. Construction on the tentatively-named Katsuura Seaside Park Resort is scheduled to start in 2020 with completion by 2024.

The landowner, Kyoritsu Maintenance, a Tokyo-based resort and accommodation developer, has plans for two 7 and 8-storey hotels with a total floor area of 15,000 sqm (approx. 161,000 sq.ft). The oceanfront parcel of land is over 287,000 sqm in size and is approximately 1.5 hours drive from central Tokyo.

Namegawa Island opened in 1964 as a tropical zoo and resort. It was famous for its flamingos and peacocks. The zoo was also the only location in Chiba to have the Reeve’s muntjac. In the 1980s several muntjac escaped and began to grow in numbers in the southern part of Chiba prefecture, creating many problems for local farmers up until the 2000s.

In 1970, the nearby Namegawa Island Station on the JR Sotobo Line was opened and the resort welcomed over 1.17 million visitors. Success was short-lived. The opening of rival Kamogawa Sea World nearby in October 1970 saw visitors to Namegawa Island enter a long decline. The resort filed for bankruptcy through the Corporate Rehabilitation Law in 1976 and operations were taken over by a Tokyo-based stainless steel manufacturer. Management was later transferred to a subsidiary but the park never turned a profit in the years following.

Over the years revenues started to decline and the resort closed its doors in August 2001. It has sat unused for the past 17 years. Kyoritsu acquired the property in 2004 for just 42 million Yen, shortly after announcing plans to develop an aged-care home and drilling for onsen water. Plans were scuttled following the global financial crisis.

The property can only be accessed via a tunnel carved through the mountain side. The former buildings overlooked the Pacific Ocean and had direct waterfront access. The hidden and protected terrain made this location perfect for old military installations with traces of dug out caves used for ammunition storage.

Sources:
The Daily Engineering & Construction News, August 31, 2018.
The Asahi Shimbun, August 30, 2018.

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