Modernist city hall priced too cheaply, critics say

The former Yokohama City Hall, designed by famed architect Togo Murano and built in 1959, is still awaiting a final decision regarding its fate with some arguing that it has been priced too low.

The city had a deadline of September 30, 2021, to sign the contract for the old city hall building, but local residents have been critical of the low sale price that had been agreed upon.

In 2020, city offices moved to a new 155-meter tall office tower located one kilometer north. In 2019, a joint venture of eight developers was selected to redevelop the 16,000 sqm site of the former city offices, replacing the old buildings with a high-rise office tower with a university on the lower floors. The Murano-designed modernist building would be saved and refurbished into a hotel. Surprisingly, the city did not have any specific request that the modernist building be saved. It just happened that the winning proposal, out of the three proposals submitted, was to refurbish the existing building.

The sale price for the five old office buildings was 77 million Yen, with the land to be leased under a 77-year fixed-term lease with an annual land rent of 210 million Yen (US$1.88 million). The land is said to have a market value of 17.9 billion Yen (US$161 million), with some arguing that the annual land rent is extremely low and that the buildings were also priced too low.

The redevelopment is estimated to cost around 50 billion Yen (US$448 million).

Source: The Asahi Shimbun, September 29, 2021.

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