Tokyo cancels refurbishment of Children’s Castle

On May 9, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced the cancellation of a planned refurbishment of the National Children’s Castle property in Omotesando. The property will continue to be used as an oxygen and medical care station for coronavirus patients.

The popular arts and entertainment complex closed in 2015. It was sold by the national government to Tokyo in 2019 for approximately 52 billion Yen.

The national government opened the Castle in 1985. The 13-story building had a gym, pool, art studio, hall, roof garden, seminar rooms, and office space. In 2012, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced the planned closure of the building, citing its age and high maintenance costs. Renovations required to keep it operating were estimated at 12 billion Yen. Former Tokyo Governor Masuzoe had previously reached an agreement to acquire the property for 37 billion Yen (approx. 330 million USD), demolish it and relocate the Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital to the site but these plans were overturned in 2016 by Governor Koike.

The rear of the Castle property adjoins a large site that was originally the Aoyama Hospital, and more recently a home display center that has since closed. There have been suggestions in the past that the two sites could be redeveloped together sometime after the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo Governor Koike, however, preferred to utilize the existing building, potentially reviving it as a children’s amusement center along with other public services for the elderly and entrepreneurs. In 2019 there were talks that it could re-open by as early as 2020, providing a base for Olympic-related activities. Those repair costs were estimated to be around 14.7 billion Yen (approx. US$113 million). The pandemic threw those plans into disarray and it has been operating as a base for oxygen supplies since the spring of 2021.

Rather than repair the existing building, future plans could see the building demolished as part of a larger site redevelopment, similar to what was considered in the past. 

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun, May 9, 2022.

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