The space had been empty for a few years. Lately there has perpetually been a homeless guy taking up residence in front of the deserted space on the sidewalk. The location (an underpass about halfway between Akiba and Okachimachi, hence the Aki-Oka name) at Kuramaebashi-dori was previously home to a huge Hanamasa Carne Station yakiniku buffet restaurant, which still lives on in Ginza and Asakusa. The Akiba one closed sometime in 2005 or so (the comments on the gurume sites seem to stop in 2005; I last went in 2003 or so).
There is still a very large Hanamasa supermarket on the other side of the street, also under the tracks (with what might be the biggest seafood selection of any Hanamasa).
You can appreciate my surprise, when, after five years of disuse, the spot suddenly transformed into the stylish, modern effective use of space you see here:
2k540 AKI-OTA Artisan opened on December 11, 2010
Not exactly Hibiya yet, but better
The shops inside 2k540 (which derives from railway-speak for the distance from Tokyo station, i.e., 2,540 meters) were mostly handmade, arts and crafts type shops.
There were two cafes. I decided to go in for a closer look at this one:
Very un-Akiban atmosphere
iPads for each customer = nice touch
At the Akiba side there was a shop that had unusual locally-produced foods:
You have to take off your shoes to go up here
There is a good reason 99.9% of us use genetically modified canola oil... This non-GM oil was 2600 yen.
It's good to see that there is an effort being made to beautify what was once a grey, desolate area. The stretch between Akiba station and here has been cleaned up massively in the past three or four years, with the Crossfield building, Intage building, Yodobashi Camera and more. It used to be populated by run-down aluminum and cardboard recycling centers (with the army of homeless guys that comes with that) and empty streets.
Good to see Akiba take another step in the right direction. All it needs now is a good cheapo izakaya and some fashion stores to repel all the nerds and sickos!