How it sold: Kisho Kurokawa’s Renovated Churis Akasaka

Renovation flipping in Tokyo has traditionally been a dangerous game. A lot of capital is tied up to acquire the property. A lot of investment is put into the design and construction, all in the hope of achieving a price that will provide enough profit to make the time and effort worthwhile.

However, if done right with a highly skilled team making great choices throughout the process, it is possible to be on the winning side. Churis Akasaka is a groundbreaking renovation that achieved an exit price that made the venture more than worthwhile.

Originally designed and used by famed architect Kisho Kurokawa, the renovation investor purchased the unit in February, 2017 for an undisclosed amount.

At the time, the 312 square meter condo was in a very dated state. Small, compartmentalized rooms shut out much needed natural light from the interior of the unit and the floor was covered in carpeting that looked as old as the 1983 build.

Before and after floorplans

The kitchen was also very small for a unit this size. Immediately on first inspection, it was apparent that the wall between the maid room and kitchen needed to be removed. This posed the first hurdle as you need to make sure you don’t remove a load bearing wall, thus compromising the integrity of the structure.

Most times this challenge is faced in house renovations however since Churis Akasaka is a condo, that meant engaging with the home owner’s association. The HoA had detailed records of structural plans that told which walls were load bearing or not.

Luckily, the concrete wall separating the maid’s room and kitchen was not load bearing which allowed for the complete removal of the maid’s room. The kitchen was expanded to more than double the original size to become, what ended up being, the defining portion of the completed unit.

The master bedroom was another place that needed a lot of work. The unit originally had two full bathrooms however they were not modern. One bathroom was off the master bedroom but it was adjacent to a walk in closet which took up more room than it deserved to.

The idea was to eliminate the walk in closet altogether which allowed for more space to be allocated to the bathroom. With this space, there was enough room to put in his and her sinks into a granite countertop underneath full width, backlit mirrors.

After the initial purchase of the unit, Riccardo Tossani, the architect hired to oversee the renovation, set to work bringing the plans from paper to reality. Brought back to the skeleton, the unit had new flooring installed throughout.

Special mention for the air conditioning units is deserved. Built into the window sills throughout, they presented a unique challenge that stirred a lot of debate. Should they be removed completely with newer units installed or should they be left alone with new material laid on top?

In the end, the latter options was chosen. It was a roll of the dice as it wasn’t entirely certain how they would turn out but once finished, they became fully functional window sills that could accommodate furniture or plants without affecting natural light into the unit.

The exit pricing was a long discussion but the unit finally went to market at ¥568,000,000. This was considered by many in the industry a very aggressive price however this unit had several things going for it to justify the ask.

One was the original size. Almost nowhere in central Tokyo can one find a 300 plus square meter condo. In a country where the population is rapidly aging and a city where space comes at a premium, finding 300 plus square meters spread out over one floor is very difficult to find.

The second was the unit has two full bathrooms. Properties at this pricing require there be two full baths but oddly enough, the current inventory in the city does not accommodate this desire. A lot of the brand new inventory we see has multiple toilets but only one bath again adding to the rarity of the property.

Third is what the kitchen became. This was a big plus for all buyers who went through the property, all of whom commented on the rarity of the space provided. There are houses in Tokyo that have great kitchens but almost never in a condominium. With this unit, we were able to bring to reality a dream kitchen that would become a focal point for family living.

Fourth was the location, right in the heart of Akasaka, steps from Tameike Sanno station. The location allowed stunning views of the rapidly gentrifying Akasaka skyline.

Despite being on the 11th floor of a 14 story building, the unit came with private use of a 64 square meter roof terrace that offered privacy together with access to sky along with commanding views of the city skyline.

In the end, Churis Akasaka sold in October, 2017 for another undisclosed amount. We can say that it was very close to what was asked and sold to buyers that fit the profile we envisioned at the outset earlier this year.

If you are interested in development and renovation, then feel free to contact Housing Japan. We have the expertise, know how and contacts with banks, architects, construction companies and buyer’s agents throughout the city to make the venture turnkey and worthwhile.

Get started by contacting us today to discuss your development idea and learn our opinion of whether it can be pulled. A little time investment now can pay off very nicely later on down the line so contact us today.

Editor’s Note: Adam German is Vice President of Business Development at Housing Japan and a well-known figure in both the marketing and sales side of Tokyo Real Estate. Originally from Canada, Adam has been behind some of the most successful international residential property services in Tokyo.