Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
NEW YORK, JULY 17, 191.5
I COURT HOUSE CONSTRUCTION WILL PROCEED I
But the Cost of the BuiWing Will Be Reduced One-Half, and |
All the Land Not Needed For the Actual Site Will Be Sold |
"T^ HE various issues that have been
■*• raised -with regard to the wisdom of
proceeding -with the court house project
cuhninated in a conference this week be¬
tween the city officials and representa¬
tives of real estate and financial inter¬
ests under the leadership of the Advisory
Council. The city administration was
represented by Mayor Mitchel, Comp¬
troller Prendergast, President McAneny,
President Pounds, while Messrs. Will¬
iam L. De Bost, vice president of the
Cruikshank Company; Frederick H.
Ecker, treasurer of the Metropolitan
Life Insprance Company; Alfred E.
Marling, president of the corporation of
Horace S. Ely & Co.; Clarence H. Kel¬
sey, president of the Title Guarantee
and Trust Company; Hon. Cyrus C.
Miller, chairman of the Advisory Council
of Real Estate Interests, and Charles A.
Peabody, president of the Mutual Life
Insurance Company, represented real
estate and allied interests.
Conference With Real Estate Men.
After considering the various aspects
of the subject, the discussion resolved
itself into an endeavor to ascertain just
how inexpensively the court house itself
could be constructed. Since the city had
already been committed to the purchase
of the land for the new site and title
had vested, it seeined almost impossible
to give up the present site without its
costing the city much more than build¬
ing the court house upon it. In fact,
since 1903, every step taken has been
approved by the Court House Board and
the Board of Estimate, so that legally
the construction of a court house was
deemed mandatory. The conference
carefully considered every angle of the
court house proposition, the discussion
itself might briefly be divided into four
The first covered the question as to
whether or not suitable foundations ex¬
isted upon the present site for the con¬
struction of a court house. Both Daniel
E. Moran, consulting engineer on foun¬
dations, and E. P. Goodrich, the chief
engineer of the Borough of Manhattan,
assured the conferees that comparing the
conditions at the site selected with con¬
ditions elsewhere upon Manhattan
Island, south of 14th street, they had
no hesitation in saying that for econ¬
omical and satisfactory foundations no
more advanta.geous site of equal extent
could be found.
Nature of the Foundations.
Mr. Moran submitted a general state¬
ment in peference to the same in which
he, states that no rock exists above an
elevation of 150 feet below street level,
but that overlying the rock there is sand
and coarse gravel. In his opinion, sand
furnishes an admirable material for
foundations, for some of the largest and
tallest buildings in New York are
founded upon extensive beds of sand.
For example, the northern part of the
Municipal Building rests entirely upon
sand. Although liorings show that por¬
tions of peat underlie the Criminal
Courts and the Tombs buildings, there
is practically no peat or clay u.nder the
Presided at tlie conference on the court house
and civic center plans.
proposed site for the Court House. The
actual cost of the foundation, Mr.
Moran estimated to be equivalent to
$.0208 per cu. ft. of building above grade,
as compared with $.083, the cost per cu.
ft. of structure for the Municipal Build¬
ing. Thus it seemed to be reasonably
certain that the foundations upon the
new site are adequate for the court
As to Abandoning the Project.
The next phase of the subject con¬
sidered was as to the advisability of dis-
continuin.g the entire project. When it
was understood that the title to the
entire site had already vested in the city
at a cost, including interest and loss of
taxes of $12,500,000, it seemed doubtful
whether the land acquired could again
be sold without a loss of at least 40 per
cent. Considering the depression of the
real estate market it was even then ques¬
tionable whether the site could he sold,
and if sold in small lots, whether the
dumping of such a large real estate plot¬
tage upon the market would not be at¬
tended with further depression. It was
said that property owners within the
vicinity of the new site had, for the
last four years, been developing their
property in accordance with the plans
of the city. Since they had been
assured that such an improvement would
take place, the possibility of innumer-
a])le law suits, with large damages,
would have to be considered, in case
the site should be abandoned. It would
be necessary also to have the Legisla¬
ture rescind the Court House Act, It
was considered doubtful whether public
sentiment, supported by the judiciary
and the legal fraternity, would approve
of any such change.
In the mean time interest upon $12,-
500,000 would accumulate at the rate of
4!S per cent. As the remainders after
the court house has been built might
])ring back to the city an amount some¬
where between three and five million
dollars, it seemed advisable, when all
circumstances were analyzed, to utilize
the present site.
Can Effect No Saving.
In other words, it was the opinion at
the conference, that the court house pro¬
ject had proceeded so far that it would
be as, if not more, expensive to give
up the present site as to utilize it for
the court house, although in many re¬
spects the steps taken to acquire the site
oiftside of City Hall Park did not meet
with the approval of real estate interests.
The third aspect of the discussion re¬
lated to the possibility of employing a
portion of the present City Hall Park for
an addition to the old court house, while
retaining a part of the proposed site for
a public park, selling the remainder of
the proposed site to pay for the addition
to the court house. This in itself, it was
said, would naturally be but a temporary
measure until the financial condition of
the city would warrant the constructing
of a better building.
The utilization of City Hall Park for a
court house was strongly emphasized.
However, when it was recognized that
public sentiment recently disapproved of
such action by the city, while the sale
of any portion of the proposed site at
this time could only be made at a great
loss, it was decided that the better policy
would be to have City Hall Park re¬
tained entirely for park purposes because
of the congestion of traffic from the
bridges, subways, etc., as well as because
of its convenient location.
The conference concluded with the de¬
cision that real estate interests and the
city administration would insist that
every possible economy should be
effected in the construction of the court
house itself. Since title had vested and
foundations were adequate, it seemed
desirable to proseciite the work to an
immediate finish, so as to take advantage
of the possible cheapened cost of con¬
struction at this time.
It was said that in Iniilding circles
during times of business depression it is
wise to avail oneself of low prices and
bids, for contractors are often willing to
do the work at less profit than in pros¬
perous times merely to meet overhead
The Advisory Council of Real Estate
Interests will shortly confer with repre¬
sentatives of the Court House Board.
The opinion prevails in that body that
considering the heavy tax rate now im¬
posed upon property owners, as vvell as
the city's financial condition, it is un¬
necessary to have a monumental struc¬
ture or an elaborate civic center sur¬
rounding the court house.
Why a Civic Center?
Said a representative of the council
"If City Hall Park is to be devoted ex¬
clusively to park purposes it is not es¬
sential that the court house be sur¬
rounded with a civic center. The cost
of the court house should be as low as
four or five million dollars. To bring
the cost of the court house within these