Roppongi landmark shuts, site to be redeveloped

A street tout appears in front of the Almond coffee shop, which closed last week

TOKYO (TR) – A Tokyo landmark in the nightlife quarter of Roppongi shut its doors last week, bringing an end to its reign as one of the capital’s top meeting spots.

The owners of the Almond coffee shop at the bustling Roppongi crossing decided last year that it would close from January 3rd. The two-floor cafe’s easily identifiable throwback pink and white awning and long hours (9 a.m. to 5 a.m., everyday) made it a common point of congregation for the area’s nighttime revelers.

Almond representatives discussed the possibility of renovation with the building’s owners but it was concluded that a new structure would better meet current fire and earthquake standards. “The building had deteriorated and was susceptible to earthquakes,” said a spokesman for the Almond corporation, whose eleven shops specialize in reasonably priced cakes and coffees.

Opened in 1964, the shop is set to temporarily move around the corner until a new building can be constructed at the current location.

The extraction of value from real estate assets has been a trend in recent years in central Tokyo. Venerable structures in Shinjuku and Ginza have been scheduled for demolition with plans for mixed-use commercial properties set to rise in their place.

Development in Roppongi has been especially active. The 54-floor Roppongi Hills opened its doors in 2003. Four years later, Tokyo Midtown, which includes Tokyo’s tallest building, the 248-meter Midtown Tower, was completed.

“Of course, it is the end of an era,” added the spokesman. “Almond has become a symbol of the crossing. Our customers will probably be inconvenienced for one and a half to two years. But we would greatly appreciate their continued support and patronage.”

A notice announcing the closing and a New Year’s decoration now adorn the entry door to the shop.

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