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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 70, no. 1805: October 18, 1902

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Octoljcr iS. 1902. RECORD AND GUIDE. 561 JJev&teD ro f^L Estat;: . Buildij/g ^RCifiTECTiJfiE .HousEiKOLo DegohatidiI. BusitJESs Alb Themes OF GeWer^I INterhsx. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS Published eVery Saturday Cninmunirationa sliould be addressed to C. W. STVEET. 14-16 Vesey Slreel, New YorR J. T. LINDSEY, Business llanascr Telephone, Cortlandt 3157 "Enlered at the Post O.ffice at New York. N. T.. as second-class matter." Vol, LXX. OCTOBER 18, 1902. No. 1805 THE response of the Stook Market to the settlement of the coal strike, in which J. P. Morgan seems to have done something again where everyone else failed, has been so prompt and substantial, that people are beginning to think times and conditions were not so bad as they were painted. This view will find encouragement for a time in the continued ease of money, compared with the recent past, but it must be remembered that the point of normality has not been reached and until it is money must be more or less of a factor that will give anxiety. Prices will contini;e to respond to improved conditions and to the absence of burdensome rates for accommodations; because with a rising market operator can afford to pay the rate if they can only get the money; but the Treasury Department is still distributing famine relief and the settlements of the year have yet to be made. We have, then, still to look forward, with pos¬ sibly intervals of ease, to comparatively high rates for the bal¬ ance of the year,— AND the Bank of England maintains its minimum discount rate unchanged at the high figure of 4 per cent, while, at the same time, recent advances of typical rates at other Euro¬ pean centres are still adhered to. These markets are holding themselves ready to receive the forthcoming government loans, the first of which is likely to be the British, though some time ago the indications were that the French would be first in the field. It is now generally accepted that the former will take the form of a Transvaal obligation guaranteed by Great Britain. This would procure the required funds, $150,000,000, at a fair price and relieve the pressure upon Consols, which have suffered under the belief that the government's wants were to be sup¬ plied through a fresh issue of these. Buyers will probably prefer this because, while getting all the security practically required, they do not expect to pay so much for the guaranteed bond as they would be asked for the direct obligation. Accompanying the report that the Transvaal is to issue the loan appear state¬ ments from the government expert. Sir Edward Barbour, who has been oa a special mission to examine into the resources of the new South African colonies, of the encouraging prospects in the gold fields and sequently in the fields of agriculture and commerce. Sir Edward looks to see the output of the Rand $100,- OCO.OCO a year in a reasonably short space of time, the labor ob¬ stacle being regarded as temporary only. While speaking of gold production it is interesting to note that estimates for the Australian yield this year are of 4,000,000 02s., which will be equivalent to ?80,000,OCO. or equal to about the best record of the United States. Indeed the prospective enlargement of the world's supply of gold is making economists wonder what in an age of credit and paper is to be done with the immense unused reserves that they think must accumulate, the general business conditions of Europe shows no alteration for the week. The process going on is one of inward recuperation and outward ap¬ pearance of distress in the form of reported low prices and re¬ duced wages. One or two interesting facts can be culled from our exchanges, one of which is that the iVIorgan syndicate is to receive $2,500,000 in preferred stock and $25,000,000 in common stock for organizing the company and guaranteeing the sale of ?00,CCO,000 of the $75,000,000 4M. per cent, debenture bonds of the International Mercantile Marine Company. The stock capital is $GO,000,(JOO C per cent, preferred and $00,000,000 common, but, it is said, none will come upon the market. Another interesting item is that an official inquiry has been made to determine the amount of French capital invested abroad and as a result this is estimated at SOmillards of francs or $G,O00,OOO,0O0. The inquiry extended to all four quarters of the globe as well as to the fifth. Oceania, 5G countries are specified, but about four-fifths of the foreign, investments are in Europe. .' ; : ..:■/ r-: : The Use and Abuse of ** Sky=Scrapers." "7" HE announcement that the purchaser of a lot in the most ■i- exclusive residential district of Fifth avenue proposes to build a sixteen-story "sky-scraper" upon the property he has acquired has naturally excited unusual interest among the resi¬ dents thereabouts, as well as some apprehension. That the ap¬ prehension is in this particular case not justified is the opinion of everyone who is entitled to have one. In another column, the proposed building is discussed as a business proposition by Mr. Mark Rafalsky, an expert in that line, and it is shown con¬ vincingly that, if Mr. Marx carries out his published plans, he will have on his hands an investment that cannot possibly pay any sufficient interest. Consequently, it is scarcely worth while for neighboring property owners to make any attempt at self- protection. It is obvious, however, that this particular instance does not exhaust all the possibilities of the case. What cannot proritably be done on a 25-foot frontage in the middle of a block might conceivably be done on a large plot situated on a corner. There are now building ou corners of 55th street two eighteen- story apartment holds, the owners of which, one of whom is the Astor Estate, expect to make them profitable; and Fifth avenue property at 55th street is worth little less than Fifth avenue property north of GOth street. Hence, however unnecessary any apprehension may be in the present instance, it is not impos¬ sible that in other cases Fifth avenue property owners may be forced to take the same step that George Vanderbilt did in the case of the five lots next to the new Union Club—that is, they may be forced to buy the property in order to prevent the erec¬ tion of an obnoxious building. There are now under construc¬ tion three "sky-scrapers" between SOth street and GOth street; and there are a number of plots just as large for sale on upper Fifth avenue. It is very much ia the normal course of things that some speculative syndicate might fix upon one of these plots as a paying site for the latest thing in expensive apartment hotels. The only way in which such a possibility could be pre¬ vented would be by a combination of owners of each block to restrict the lots on that block—a combination, which it woulij be obviously difficult to effect at the present time. It is because these combinations are so difficult to effect and because the pres¬ ent multiplication of apartment hotels so frequently injures property in the immediate vicinity of these buildings that we may soon expect a renewal of former effects to restrict the heights of fireproof buildings—at least in certain parts of the city. Nothing is more obvious about the current tendencies in real estate thau the fact that the area within which "sky-scrapers" can be profitably erected is constantly increasing. It now in¬ cludes almost any part of Broadway south of 125th street, any part of Fifth avenue south of 95th street, and almost all the side streets in the central part of the city. The popularity of the apartment hotel has given to specu¬ lative builders a type of building, which must be erected to a great height and on a large plot, in order to be profitable; and the erection of so many of them, amounting in two years to over ninety, while it has made some property more valuable, has decreased the value of other property immediately adjoin¬ ing these huge buildings. It is improbable that apartment hotels will continue to be erected at their present rate; but, if so. other buildings equally tall will take their place. Office buildings are beginning to be built on the avenues and main streets in the upper part of the city, and will continue to be built in still larger numbers. Loft buildings from nine to twelve stories high are steadily pushing their way up town, and have now almost reached the 23d street line. The whole middle part of the city has become available as sites for "sky-scrapers" designed to meet a dozen different purposes. It is for reasons such as these that the statement, frequently made, that "sky-scrapers" will be a decreasing quantity in New York building, is quite incredible. This assertion has been made by Mr. Burton J. Hendrick in the October number of the At¬ lantic Monthly. "The conclusion of all of which is," he says, "that while the exigencies of our practical American life wili still demand the erection of large office buildings, the rate of production is likely to deci-ease rather than increase; that the mania for mere bigness is subsiding, and is bound to give place to a better conception of corporate eminence; and that the pro¬ duction of the 'sky-scraper' itself Inevitably necessitates the de¬ velopment of a large amount of urban property along more modest lines," Iu this extract, and indeed in his whole article, Mr. Hendrick apparently restricts the meaning of "sky-scraper" to offlce buildings at least eighteen stories high. Even with this restriction of the meaning, his assertion is more than doubtful. The onlyproof he gives of it is the well-known fact that many of the owners of twenty-story buildings in the financial