Kyoto urges realtor to build hotel overlooking 400-year-old Nijo Castle
Asahi -- Feb 26
In the shadow of Nijo Castle here, a World Heritage site, the municipal government is asking a developer to build a hotel instead of a condominium building, a rare request, since it has no legal power to compel it.

Kyoto officials say their city is badly in need of more hotels to accommodate the growing number of foreign visitors to the ancient capital. They hope to boost the annual number by nearly three times the current level by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.

In a Feb. 5 news conference, Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa reiterated the city's "extremely unusual request" for the realtor to "build a hotel fit for the image of Kyoto as an international tourist destination."

His request came on top of a letter dated Jan. 20 making a similar plea.

The developer, Hankyu Realty Co., acquired the property in the city's Nakagyo Ward on Dec. 26 last year, the day when Kyoto Kokusai Hotel closed to guests after operating for 53 years.

The Osaka-based property company, known for developing high-end Geo brand condominium buildings, will likely build one on the 7,700 square-meter site, according to industry insiders.

Hankyu Realty has so far not made any commitment to honor the city's request.

"We will consider all possible options, but our plan is up in the air at this stage," a Hankyu Realty official said.

Although Kyoto Kokusai Hotel stands about 40 meters high, city regulations, which took effect in 1995, now limit the height of structures in the neighborhoods of Nijo Castle to up to 15 meters.

The castle's original building, which dates to the early 17th century, was built by the shogun and founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616). Nijo Castle served as the Tokugawa shogunate's headquarters in Kyoto.

News source: Asahi
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