High-rise haters

The famous Senso Temple, located in one of Tokyo’s oldest residential neighborhoods, Asakusa, and five residents of the area are suing the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in Tokyo District Court in regards to a 37-story condominium being built about 400 meters west of the temple.

Except for a hotel closer to the station, there are no high rises in Asakusa, and the plaintiffs are claiming that the condo will destroy the neighborhood’s unique atmosphere, not to mention the special character of its skyline. The reason they are suing the government rather than the developer is that Tokyo eased regulations in the Construction Law that allows a builder to make a structure higher than that normally allowed if the builder maintains a certain amount of empty land on the property where the building is located. Basically, Senso Temple is saying that the law is such that it can be manipulated so that any sort of building can be constructed. Height restrictions are meaningless.

It’s not the first time a community group has brought a suit against a building that takes advantage of loopholes in the building laws–the infamous “capacity rate” exceptions are usually the culprit–but once a building is started it’s very difficult to get is stopped, and construction of the Asakusa condo commenced earlier this month.

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