Unbolt the ceiling mirrors and throw out the vibrating beds. A Tokyo-based property manager is successfully transforming failed love hotels into stylish studio apartment complexes.
“We are open to managing non-traditional properties provided the price, location and other conditions are right,” said a spokeswoman with property developer and manager LANDMARKS Co., Ltd.
The Shanti apartment building tucked away on a quiet back street near Tokyo’s Sumida River has a checkered past. This cozy four-story structure was once known as the “Love Hotel Phoenix” and provided rooms by the hour to couples in search of a discrete romp.
The Love Factory website, a locator of love hotels, estimates there are roughly 800 such short-stay hotels in Tokyo providing convenient and affordable locations for trysts.
Business conditions soured a few years back and the Phoenix discretely passed a room key to a nervous looking couple for the last time. Real estate investors were not clamoring to purchase this former den of sin, but LANDMARKS president Takeshi Sato, saw an opportunity to pick up an affordable property in a prime Tokyo location. The company also found an Asian investor untroubled by the building’s steamy history.
LANDMARKS remade the building, adding a fresh coat of paint, small kitchen units and even a communal rooftop barbeque area with a stunning view of the Tokyo Sky Tree, which will become the world’s tallest tower upon completion in 2012.
The company also hired a mural painter to add a touch of flair to the exterior and craftsmen to customize a few rooms. This property has become very popular and currently 14 of the 15 rooms are being rented.
“We are very upfront with potential renters and they all know that the property was once a love hotel, but know one seems to mind,” said the LANDMARKS spokeswoman. LANDMARKS has successfully turned two other Tokyo love hotels into apartment complexes.
The Shanti is now home to students and single urban professionals. Condom vending machines have been removed and visitors no longer look nervously over their shoulders before ducking into the building, but some things have not changed. A phoenix-shaped neon sign continues to illuminate the buildings facade and rooms are still being rented – only not by the hour