Silver linings

After it was revealed in 2005 that many structures built by Huser Construction used false earthquake-proofing data to save on building costs, the company agreed to rebuild the affected structures. Eleven condominiums were rebuilt with subsidies from the central government. Nine have so far been completed, and this month, residents of one of them, the Grand Stage Rivage (formerly the Grand Stage Sumiyoshi) in Koto Ward, Tokyo, will move in. It will be a bittersweet move, to say the least.

The main selling point for the condo, which comprises eleven stories and 67 units, was that the apartments were large (average size: 100 square meters) and relatively inexpensive, between ¥40 and ¥50 million. The rebuilding cost a total of ¥2.1 billion, with the central government covering about ¥650 million. In the end, the residents who decided to stay had to pony up an extra ¥22 million each, or between 40% and 50% of the original cost of their units. 

If there’s any silver lining to this sad, stupid story it’s that, according to the leader of the residents association, the people who decided to stay (10% of the original owners decided to sell their condos) have become a real community. One of the unfortunate outcomes of urbanization is the atomization of neighborhoods–people don’t know their neighbors as much as they used to. But the leader of the association has said that the rebuilding experience “has also rebuilt our resolve as neighbors.” Not only that, but it’s elicited the sympathy of the Koto Ward authorities. Residents of Grand Stage Rivage, most of whom are young families, get first dibs on daycare and other ward services, which is no small potatoes. Koto Ward is infamous for its long waiting list for daycare services.

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