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L Estate Record
ND BUILDERS' GUIDE.
NEW TOEK, SATUKDAY, DECEMBEE 18, 1875.
THE REAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOClATiON.
C. W. SWEET...............Pbesideot and Tbeasubeb
PRESTON I. SWEET...........Seobetaby.
L. ISRAELS.........................BUBINEBS Manageb
ONE YEAR, in advance....$10 00.
Communications should be addressed to
Nos. 345 AND 347 Bboadwat.
THE CEISIS IN EEAL ESTATE.
ME. S. E. CHUKCH'S LETTER.
To the Editor of the Beal Estate Becord:
Many of your readers were not a little sur¬
prised at the article which appeared in the last
week's Recobd entitled "The Crisis in Real Es¬
Tour sense of justice towards this great in¬
terest, and your general disposition of fairness,
■will, I am sure, prompt you to give place to the
expression of an opinion somewhat adverse to
your own on that subject.
In the opinion of the writer, the declension
of prices in real estate, especially in" the district
to which you refer, the West Side, is hot in any
wise due to over-speculation, or the misdeeds of
"speculators," but to quite other causes. This
I think ought to be apparent if we consider for
a moment that in other sections of the city which
haye been entirely free from spieculation, the de¬
clension in prices has been, to say the least,
equally great. Foreclosure sales demonstrate
that the mortagee takes the property, whether it
be on the Boulevard or in Baxter street, on the
Eifth avenue or at the Five Points, and more
likely in the latter places than in the former. It
is not speculation, then, that has produced the de¬
cline, for "speculators" have not conspired very
recently to rain either Baxter street or the Five
What, then, is the causp, especially as affect¬
ing the West Side district?
Lots did, indeed, attain a high valuation in the
years between '69 and '73. Was there no cause
for it ? There had been expended upon that
district, of public money and private capital,,
over $30,000,000 in parks, boulevards, and;
other works of public improvement, calculated
and intended to make it, when completed, an
attractive place of residence second to none on
this continent, nor probably in the world- The
city got its return in the taxes derived from
high assessed valuations, and private owners
got theirs in the assurance of high values, pred¬
icated upon the completion of these works. Do
you think it wonderful that in a city of rapidly
growing wealth, where a dozen millionaires may
anywhere be counted in a group of- twice that
number of men without exciting a passing no¬
tice, a lot in such a district, with such imprave-
jnents, should be worth $10,000.or $20,000, or
even $50,000 ? Why, our rich men often spend
more money in the purchase of an India shawl,
or an ordinary wedding present, than is required
to buy the ground upon which may fitly be
erected a merchant's palace.
Now I venture to say that with all the spec¬
ulation that has heretofore existed, lots upon
the West Side have never yet reached one-half
their intrinsic value, or one-half the price
they will hereafter and very shortly attain.
The cause of the declension is not speculation,
but that sudden and disastrous change of pol¬
icy which, inaugurated some three years ago,
under the name of economy and reform,
has put a stop to the completion of these
works, which has notified every owner that
while he shall continue to be enormously taxed
and assessed, he shall have no access to his
property to build npon or improve it, to make
it available or productive and which contiuually
taunts him in ofScial documents with the threat
that this condition of things is to continue " for
fifty years to come."
No property can maintain its value under such
a condition of affairs as this. And the plain,
unvarnished, solemn truth which property
owners may contemplate at their leisure is, that
"reform" and reformers have cost them, dur¬
ing the last four years, more than $200,000,000
of .their own substantial wealth, which is equally
the wealth of this city. A lot which might well
be worth $20,000, if a house could be built upon
it, is hot worth half that sum, nor one-quarter,
nay, is dear at any price, if it be understood that
it cannot, for indefinite years, be buDt upon or
improved. And you may find here the cause and
the whole cause for the "crisis in real estate."
, But these things are happily now passing
away. The rights of property-owners, which
are always identical with the true interests of
the city, are coming at last to be recognized.
These improvements will be made and com¬
pleted. Streets will be opened, sewered and
paved, and the property made ready for im¬
provement. Eapid transit, long and painfully
coming to the birth, springs forth all at once
full grown and double-handed, to do the work
in a year which two decades of years have been
preparing for it. Ihe Greenwich road will
reach this district within a month, while a sec¬
ond road, the Sixth avenue (Gilbert charter) is
now fully organized, the money secured, and
bids for the iron structure are being received.
So that the Centennial year wiU find this whole
district traversed by two double-tracked, com¬
pleted steam roads, affording, in the most com¬
fortable , maimor, and the quickest time, access
to it, from, every part of the city. Seventy-second
street will then be more easily reached from Wall
street, in less time and far more comfortably
than Fourteenth street now is by any existing
mode of conveyance. . Do you think lots, then,
in; this .hitherto^ excluded section" of the city,
now made most accessible of aU, bounded by
parks on either hand, and divided by the Boule¬
vard (the future street of the Continent), will be
deemed to have been over-estimated ? I venture
the prediction that no lols elsewhere on this
island, not excepting the Fifth avenue, have yist
attained the value which will ultimately be ac¬
corded to lots within this district.
Nor wiU the district be monopolized by the
few only—the extremely rich. The French flat
is the coming house of New Tork. Palatial in
size, imposing in style, and occupying the very
choicest locality of the city, it will yet furnish,
at a moderate cost of $600 to $1,200 a year, an
ample, complete and perfect home to the man
of the most refined taste and yet of the most
Buildings of this class have already been
erected in upper Broadway, and are found to
pay 15 to 20 per cent, upon the investment.
And this upon lots costing $40,000 and $50,000,
What, then, must be the return upon lots costing
half that sum ? And the whole West Side is still
far below that average of price. Many more
such buildings are projected, and several are
already under way; The effect is already be¬
ing felt. I do not hesitate to say that the con¬
certed action of half a dozen property owners
in the erection of such buildings above Fifty-
ninth street will at once restore the whole sur¬
rounding property to its former valuation, to
move thence steadily forward to the real value
which the district is ultimately to attain. Any
property is cheap in New Tork which will pay
steadily ten per cent, upon the cost as improved,
and there is not a lot on the whole West Side
which will not pay that, upon double any valua¬
tion it has yet reached, when these two steam
roads are completed, as they will be before the
buildings themselves can be finished, however
soon commenced. S. E. Chubch.
P. S.—Now, that this lette^r has lain over a
week, it affords me opportunity to add a few
words to what I have above hastily written.
It will strike most of your readers, I am sure,
as something entirely new to hear that the Cen¬
tral Park was the work of real estate speculators.
The names of the venerable and Hon. Samuel
B. Euggles, Judge Michael Ullshoeffer, Eobert
Dillon, Samuel F. Butterworth, and Charles H.
Eussell are among those mosi; intimately asso¬
ciated with the beginning of that great work,
and if any of them were real estate speculators
or had any private interest to promote or which
was promoted by it, I have never yet heard of
it. The Central Park was the creation of that
genius of some of, our truly great men, now
rapidly passing away, who foresaw the future of
New Tork, and in the right titne laid a founda¬
tion which rescued New Tork from the category
of a mere provincial town and made it the cen¬
tral point of the continent. We could not pro¬
ject that work now.- We have no statesmen left.
Our highest statesmanship now seems to be to