Palette Town to close this year

Odaiba’s Palette Town shopping mall is closing its doors at the end of December 2021. Live music venue Zepp Tokyo will close on January 1, 2022, and the VenusFort mall will close on March 27, 2022.

Palette Town opened in March 1999 as part of the revival of the Tokyo Waterfront City project on Tokyo Bay. Development had stalled following the collapse of the asset bubble in the early 1990s before being restarted several years later.

The entertainment complex includes the VenusFort shopping mall, a Ferris wheel, Mega Web Toyota City Showcase, Zepp Tokyo, and teamLab Borderless. 

The land was owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and leased to Mori Building and Mitsui & Co, but later sold to Mori and Toyota. The two owners, along with Towa Realestate, will be redeveloping the site into a multi-purpose sports arena and retail complex with completion eyed for 2025.

Originally, this site was intended to host the ill-fated World City Expo in 1996. The planned international exposition was criticized for its exorbitant cost, estimated to have been around US$7.53 billion, with foreign cities hesitant to attend. TV actor Yukio Aoshima canceled the expo when he was voted in as Governor of Tokyo, citing its wastefulness. 

In the economic malaise of the 1990s, the city struggled to find any buyers for the idle parcels of land on the island. As a last resort, the land was leased under 10-year terms at very attractive rates of around 830~850 Yen/sqm per month. 

Palette Town was only intended to operate for 10 years until 2010, with the land to be returned to the city. However, the loss of this retail center would reduce the appeal of Odaiba, so an agreement was reached in 2008 to sell the land to Mori and Toyota for 81.4 billion Yen. At the time the two owners had plans to build a 23-story office tower, convention hall, hotel, and a new Ferris wheel by 2013. Those plans were scuttled with the onset of the global financial crisis. In 2010, a new schedule was announced with completion for 2016 but was delayed once more.

In 2020 new details were released with construction to start in 2023 and completion by mid-2025.

Source: ITMedia Business Online, July 21, 2021.

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