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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 77, no. 1977: February 3, 1906

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February 3, 1906 RECORD AND GUIDE I 183 Dd6teD io Re\lEstaji:.Building AficKrrEeTaR.E,KousE2ioiDDEQafifTiorf. Bi/sii^ESS Alio Themes of GElteRftV If/TEftESi. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS " Vubtished etiery Saturdat/ Communications should b" addressed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street. New York Telophono, Cortlandt 3157 "Entered al ike Post 0.-ffice al New York, N. Y.. as second-class matlei-." Vol. LXXVIL FEBRUARY 3, 1906. No. 1977 INDEX TO DEPARTMENTS. Advertising Section. Page. Page. Cement......................xxiii Law............................x Clay Products.................xxii Lumber ...................xxviii Consulting Engineers.........vii Machinery .....................iv Contractors and Metal Work ..................xix Electrical Interests...........viii Quick Job Directory.........xxvii Real Eslate...................xii Granite .....................xxiv Roofers & Roofing Materials,xxvi Healing .......................xx Slone ......................xxiv Iron and steel...............xviii Wood Products...............xxix NOTHING has happened in the real estate market in the past weelv to alter in any degree the complexion of affairs. A noteworthy transaction is the purchase by the Lawyers Title Insurance & Trust Company of Nos, 160-164 Broadway. This purchase may very fairly lie regarded as fixing the shift of the seat of the real estate brokerage business to the north o£ Lib¬ erty street. This move has been a very slow process, but the expansion of the financial interest further south has finally accomplished the inevitable. Moreover, this purchase by the Lawyers Title Insurance & Trust Company, in conjunction with the recently announced sale of property on the opposite side of lower Broadway, constitutes the first big unexpected incident of the new year. Hardly any one anticipated that the lightning would strike from that quarter of the real estate horizon. There has been quite a little leasing during the past week of property in the "thirties," east and west of Fifth avenue. Many proper¬ ties have evidently been acquired with the intention of re¬ modeling the buildings for trade purposes. Activity in tene¬ ment houses has been maintained, and in all other divisions of the market the situation is in the main unchanged. THERE are signs that the weather is changing in re¬ gard to public opinion as to the wisdom of the Tax Law. So far as New York City is concerned, judgment is, of course, where it has always been—dead opposed to the econ¬ omic principles and the practical operation of the law. But "up state" there seems to be now some evidences of sanity. The larger cities are the seats of this awakening intelligence. Even in their small way they are beginning to feel the injustice of this extraordinary method of taxation. The country places, of course, are still "darkest Africa." They believe it is possible to shift the burden of taxation by fiat, and it is hard to see how these people can be converted directly. The only hope is !iy bringing suflicient pressure from the rest of the state upon their representatives. Apparently there is a chance that this may be accomplished. IF the real estate men of this city are to succeed in repealing this measure, they must fight hard and they must figbt per¬ sistently. The law is deeply intrenched in the midst of agri¬ culture, and bucolic ignorance will require a lot of pounding be¬ fore it surrenders. Probably the question will have to be com¬ promised by substituting for the present law a recording tax, al- tliough difficulties arise when one begins to consider even a re¬ cording tax. A tax is a tax after all. It matters not by what name it is known. Any tax whatsoever placed upon mortgages is a tax upon real estate. It is, moreover, under the special circum¬ stances that exist in New York City, a tax upon the purchase of real estate, and, therefore, a tax in restraint of trade. It is commonly said that the mortgage tax is a tax upon the bor¬ rower. So it is. But in New York City the borrower in a ma¬ jority of cases is also the purchaser of real estate. The result is obvious^the purchaser Is compelled to figure into the cost of his- investment the amount of the mortgage tax. Now, if the purchaser of real estate Is to be taxed in this manner, why should not the manufacturer of shoes, or the purchaser of shoes? "We cannot see why real estate should be made the'ass that carries all the burdens merely because it is the most ap¬ proachable of all property. THE statistics covering building operations in New York City last year received surprisingly little attention. Neverthe¬ less, they were not only particularly noteworthy as repre¬ senting a very large investment of capital, but they were also very significant when placed in comparison with similar sta¬ tistics from other cities of the country. A few years ago it might have been imprudent, but it certainly was not impudent, for Chicago to challenge a comparison with New York City, even boast of a future of greater potentiality. But the building sta¬ tistics last year showed how mercilessly New York City is en¬ tombing in brick and mortar these Western aspirations. Some¬ thing over sixty millions of dollars' worth of building construc¬ tion was recorded officially, in Chicago. In the single Borough of Brooklyn these figures were exceeded by nearly ten millions. In Manhattan and the Bronx, the Chicago figures were multi¬ plied by more than two. If we add to the New York figures the value of suburban building which properly belongs to the metropolis, we see that New York City last year was the seat of at least two hundred and fifty millions of dollars' worth of building construction. It was, moreover, the seat but not the locality of an even larger amount of construction. A great many of the finer residences scattered throughout the country, in addition to numerous commercial and industrial buildings, are designed, as every one knows, by New York architects, and constructed by New- York builders, or by firms whose head¬ quarters are in this city. It is hardly an exaggeration, there¬ fore, to say that New York City has become a greater building center than all the other large cities of the country combined. Even if statistics do not bear out this statement to the final dollar and the last cent, its correctness is not likely to be dis¬ puted if we turn for a moment to consider not only the totals but the value of the figures themselves. Building in other places is a local and cheap affair compared with the class of work that is done in New York City. No doubt, costly build¬ ings are erected in Chicago. There are a few such in Phila¬ delphia, and occasionally something of the sort arises amid the Puritan peace of Boston. But the bulk of the work done in other towns is not comparable in kind or costliness with the work that is done in the metropolis. The fact is, the rest of the country is simply outclassed. Fifteen or twenty years ago, Chicago, for instance, could make a very brave comparison with the City-on-the-Hudson in the matter of tall buildings, big stores, and the rest, and even Boston was not entirely "out of it." The case is very different to-day. It is literally true that New York City could, from its own stock, supply all other cities with their big buildings and then have left over more than any one of them possesses. THE resolution which was passed by the Board of Alder¬ men a week ago last Tuesday week directing the Building Committee of the Board to prepare and report to the Board a revised building code, and authorizing that Committee to en¬ gage the services of ten experts to aid the Committee in prop¬ erly preparing said building code, is in the hands of the Mayor and awaits his approval or veto. The Mayor's attention has been directed to the formation of an alleged expert body—in part, consisting of a plumber, a sanitary engineer, a physican, and a lawyer—as proposed in the aldermanic resolution, to pre¬ pare a building code that neither includes plumbing regulations, nor sanitary regulations, nor health requirements, and as the inadequacy and unfitness of the proposed body has been shown, the result is not unlikely to be an executive disapproval. It does seem that the resolution was drafted by some one having but little knowledge of the ability and skill required in framing or revising the New YorH building code. Unusual talent and ex¬ perience are required to secure the best results in such a work, but perhaps the best results are not wanted, and there may be some concealed purpose of forming a hodge-podge body of so- called experts that can be relied upon to carry out special in¬ structions. Beside the plumber, the sanitary engineer, the phy¬ sician and the lawyer, six other men are to be selected, a builder, an iron-worker, a mason, a carpenter, an architect and a civil engineer. These latter are all very well, for it is assumed that men in those callings who have been engaged for a number of y^rs in business on their own account have acquired a knowledge of the science and practice of building, although the resolution does not demand that the members of the small call¬ ings shall have such knowledge. Additional qualifications for any architect, engineer or builder are required to make one an expert in drafting a building code that is to cover the entire range of technical subjects relating to buildings. The vast importance to this city of a proper building code im¬ peratively calls for the best service that can be secured to undertake the proposed revision, and the appointing power should have a free hand in njal^us ^ selection of men, and not