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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 75, no. 1935: April 15, 1905

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April 15, 1905 RECORD AND GUIDE 803 ESTABUSHED'^tfARPHSLii^ 1868. Eto/brED TO f^L ESTWE. BinLDl/ic ApCtdTECTURE .HoUSElJOlB DEGtUfnoH, BUsijfessAitoTHEHESQf GeiJer^ Il^Tt;\E3T. PRICE PER. YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS Published etierg Saturday Communications should ba addresaod to C. W. SWEET. 14-16 Vesey Street, New YorK Toiephone, CorUandt 3157 "Entered at the Post Office at New York, JV, T., as second-class matler." Copyright by the I . Eslate Record and Builders' Guide Company. Vol. LXXV. APRIL 10, 1005. IT was natural, after the large advances of a week ago, that the stock market should have been hesitating during the early part of the past week. It always takes some time to ad¬ just people's ideas to a higher level of values, whicli cannot be¬ come esta;blished until certain holders of the stock have sold out. Later, however, the market resumed its advance, and the lead was taken as much by railroad as by industrial securities. What between the crop prospects and the rumors about "deals" an.d forthcoming stock privileges, there was an abundance ot chance for speculation, which was turned to full account. It iooks as if there might be some active and excited trading and some wild fluctuations during the next few months. Wall Street is working up towards a lively time. THE most conspicuous fact of the past week bas been the sudden shrinkage in the speculation in vacant lots; but, for reasons expressed elsewhere, we do not regard that shrink¬ age as altogether a bad thing, and we do not believe that in the long irun its effects will be anything but wholesome. In the meantime, the purchase of improved property has been pro¬ ceeding more vigorously than ever. Business property on the margin of the flnancial district continues in excellent demand, and there is every prospect of the erection of an unusually large number of new buildings in these neighborhoods. In fact, the building situation looks better than it has at auy time this Spring, So far from being confined to cheap tenements, these will be an amount of high-class construction under way, which has rarely been equalled in the history of the city. This con¬ struction will not consist of a dozen twenty-stoi-y buildings, but it will consist of a much larger number of from nine to fifteen- story buildings—erected both for residence and business pur¬ poses. It also looks as if the contractors for these buildings would have the same difiiculty in obtaining a prompt delivery of their steel shapes as they did three years ago. Of course the smallest suggestion of labor difficulties would diminish by flfty per cent, these impending operations; but confidence has been gradually gathering that there will be peace in the building trades throughout the year 1905. Broadway, between Times Square and the Circle, has been prominent in the recent trad¬ ing. Long the home of the carriage show-room, it bas also become the home of the motor-car stcre-houses; but this liind of development is not likely in the long run to be altogether a boon. The revived interest in private houses, which has been noticeable for some time past on the part of intending occupiers, has this week been taken up by the speculators. It is notice¬ able, however, that the revived interest is confined to the more expensive property on the East Side. The West Side dwelling still remains a comparatively undesirable commodity. The cheap private house is in Manhattan a thing of the past. It cannot compete with the flats and the suburbs. ■pVERY indication points to the probability that Governor ■^-^ Higgins will sign the Mortgage Tax bill. It is distinctly his personal measure, and 'he is apparently willing to stand for it. In so doing he makes a grave mistake, which, together with the Stock Transfer tax, will cost the Republicans New York State next Fall. The mortgage tax will be felt, not only by everybody who wants to build a new house in New York State, but by everybody who seeks to live in one. Where the house is occupied by its owner, the owner will pay the tax. Where it is occupied by tenants, the tax will in the long run be paid by the tenants. They may not pay it the first year, but they will pay it eventually. Wherever possible a builder wiil simply add the increased cost of his building, due to the mortgage tax, to the price of the building, and the investor who purchases will take it out of the tenants. Whether this can be done immediately depends upon the vigor of the demand for tenements, and as this demand is vigorous at present, it is the consumer who will pay. The prospect that the tax will be imposed has already had a subduing effect on the speculation in vacant land; but we cannot regard this as altogether a calamity. A speculation in unim¬ proved property which depends for its vitality upon second and third six per cent, mortgages is not a very wholesome specula-, tion. If it collapses because of a mortgage tax of half of one per cent, we imagine that in the end it would have collapsed from a worse cause and with a more disastrous effect. The mortgage tax is an unjust and inexpedient tax, which will work a great deal of loss and trouble for the next few months; but we do not believe that it will fatally hamper the sound part of the current real estate and building speculation. That specula¬ tion is, in large measure, based on a real economic need, and it will survive the effect even of iil-conceived and ilLdistributed taxation. TTTHEN it was originally proposed to four-track the Second VV Avenue Elevated road, the Record and Guide was in¬ clined to favor the proposal, because it offered the quickest and most efficient means of giving better transit to the Bronx, At that time there was no prospect that responsible contractors would bid for the privileges of immediately constructing four or five longitudinal routes. Now, however, conditions are very dif¬ ferent, and the offer just made .by the Interborough Company to provide free transfers and a flve-cent fare over the whole city in return for the four-tracking of the Second Avenue line, must be tested by a different set of considerations. The offer is, it must be admitted, a very seductive one, A reduction of the schedule time between the Bironx and the BatteiT by twelve minutes is an alluring offer, particularly when it can be effected within two years, and the free transfere and five cent fare privileges are also valuable concessions. On the other hand, there are many objec¬ tions to the granting the enlarged franchise to the Interborough Company. As Comptroller Grout suggested, it would un¬ doubtedly diminish the chance of securing the construction of a four-track subway on First Avenue, and the company would probably want the privilege of operating two more tracks to run for as long a period as the existing Second Avenue franchise. It is a matter to be vei-y cautiously considered whether it is not better to make the Bronx wait for a couple of years longer than to tie such an important part of the rapid transit express service perpetually to an obsolete elevated structure. As to the value of the price which the company offers to pay—free trans¬ fers and the flve cent fares—that value must certainly be rated very high; but it must also be remembered that the company will be obliged in any event to pay this price for the Subway extensions which it wants. The Commission will do well to go slow in this matter, and it is a safe prediction that it will go slow. T^HE three Elsberg bills, depriving the Board of Aldermen of ■I- any jurisdiction over the granting of franchises, have passed the Legislature, and are now in the course of submission to the Mayor for veto or approval. It seems tolerably certain that they will .be vetoed by Mr, McClellan, The Tammany members of the Legislature have consistently opposed the bills, and tho authority now possessed by the Aldermen has at times been so useful to Tammany that its representative in the Mayor's chair can hardly acquiesce in legislation depriving the Aldermen of their one important function. But while the Mayor is likely to veto the bills, we imagine that he will do so partly at least for the sake of appearance. The Board of Aldermen is the stronghold of the District leaders, who are sometimes insubordi¬ nate, and we suspect that the Central Authority on Fourteenth Street will not wholly regret that the Mayor's probable veto will almost certainly be sterilized by the Legislature. The bills, at any rate, will become law in spite of the Mayor, and the city will be spared the delays and the doubtful dealings which now accompany every important franchise application. The Record and Guide has so frequenty stated its reasons for believing that the Board of Estimate should have sole jurisdiction over the granting of franchises that it is unnecessary to rehearse them on this occasion. Our only objection to the Elsberg bills is that" they do not go far enough. One of the Aldermen, in comment¬ ing on the passage of the bills, said: "The Legislature might just as well abolish us entirely," and we quite agree with him. The Board of Aldermen is an expensive luxury for the City of New York, and the money it costs could be spent very much better in other ways. Perhaps this will come. In' the meantime, let us be thankful at the prospect of the liberation of franchise-grant¬ ing from subterranean politics and questionable motives. Dur¬ ing the next two years the franchises for the rapid transit