Twenty-Hectare-Scale Redevelopment

Shin-Nagata shopping arcade immediately after the great earthquake
Reconstruction redevelopment plan with a forest of high-rises (miniature)
It would be difficult for a public bathhouse to stay in business in a redeveloped building

Two kinds of urban planning projects, land readjustment and redevelopment, are being carried out as reconstruction projects in the disaster-affected area. Example is a large-scale redevelopment project in the district south of Shin-Nagata station, Nagata-ward, Kobe City, which covers a huge area of twenty hectares and concerns 2,100 right holders. According to the project, thirty high-rises, including a thirty-story building, are planned to be built with the total cost being 270 billion yen.

Redevelopment projects have been carried out in other districts in Kobe city, Nishinomiya city and Takarazuka city as well, but the one in Shin-Nagata is exceptionally large. There are no clear prospects for the project to be fully completed. Though seven years has passed since the Great Hanshin Earthquake, only eight buildings have been either completed or started and in some zones no operation schemes have yet to be created.

The major problems of this project are as follows. It is too big in scale, there is no guarantee that right holders will be able to come back to their original place to live and/or do business, the plan is not of a human scale but rather high-rise-oriented and (a type often seen in the high growth period), and finaly there is little prospect of breaking even.

The largest redevelopment projects are usually carried out on sites of several hectares around train stations, often taking more than ten years to complete. The larger the scale of the project, the harder and longer the project takes to complete. In a case of post-disaster reconstruction projects, nothing can be more important than the swift recovery of the lives of the affected people. It is highly questionable to plan such a huge-scale redevelopment as a reconstruction project.

Business in the Redeveloped Buildings

The redevelopment project in Shin-Nagata district has been carried out in the second category projects that are largely led by governmental bodies and eminent domain can be exercised. Every lot of land and building is to be purchased. When a right holder does not agree to the transfer, his/her estate will eventually be forcibly expropriated for a low price. Therefore right holders are either to live in the new buildings or to move out. If a right holder wishes to move into one of the new buildings, the appraised value of the new space should balance that of his/her original property and he/she has to be able to afford the management and maintenance expenses. If unable to do so he/she will have to move out.


High-rises and open spaces may seem quite modern. They are, however, already regarded as out of mode in Western countries.

Actually a living space in a multi-storied building cannot be in a human scale and is not suited for weak and/or elderly people. It can also be vulnerable against fire and other disasters. It is questionable whether this kind of community development is suitable to the Shin-Nagata district, where people have been living densely, helping each other and creating a warm fellow feeling.

Reserved Space Hard to Sell

In order to cover the cost of a redevelopment project, a portion of the new buildings were reserved to be sold. However, though it is absolutely necessary to sell the reserved spaces, they can not always be sold at a reasonable price. Redevelopment projects have been being carried out at almost every district near a station between Osaka and Kobe, creating an over-abundance of available space. It is declared that all the spaces in a new building have been sold out so far. In reality, however, many of them have been sold at a dumping price -- actually below cost. It will be the citizens who will have to pay the bill in the future.

Today, redevelopment projects throughout the country have come to a standstill. It has been increasingly recognized that the system itself needs reexamination. Even after a building is completed it is highly doubtful whether the business there will succeed. It is problematic to spend large amounts of funds to construct such large buildings. It was, in the first place, a mistake to plan and carry out a big redevelopment project under the stagnant economic situation. As a consequence, the community has been being prevented from recovery for more than seven years.

(SHIOZAKI Yoshimitsu)