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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 82, no. 2103: July 4, 1908

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July 4, 1908 RECORD AND GUIDE ESTABL15HED^ii\ftRpH2iy.^l86S. D£v6-[^ p Ke^L LSTAfE. Bui LDIf/o %Cl(lTEeTvJI^E ,KoUSEHOLD DZGQRATlotf, BUSII.'ESS mJd TheI.IES of Gei4eI\aI if/TEREST, PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Published EVerg Saturday By THE RECORD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. .W. DODGE Vice-Pres. & Genl, Mgr., H, W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 15 East 24th Street, New Yort City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) ."Ent&red at the Post Office at New Yorh, N. Y., as second-class matter." Copyrighted, 190S, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXII. JULY 4, 1008. No. 2103 ONCE again an attempt is being made to unite the va¬ rious local and special associations of property own- • ers in New York into an effective organization. The need of such an organization has been constantly preached in the columns of this paper, and the reasons in favor of it have appealed to all the men most intelligently interested in real estate; but every attempt to make such an organization com¬ pletely representative and thoroughly effective has hitherto proved abortive. The crisis occasioned by the passage of the Mortgage Tax bill did indeed bring into existence the "Allied Real Estate Interests," which has served the inter¬ ests of the property owners of New Yorlt City better than has any organization of real estate men since the death of the old Real Estate Exchange. But hitherto the influence of the "Allied Real Estate Interests" has been exercised more at Albany than in the City Hall, and its membership is not large enough to make it thoroughly representative. Any movement on behalf of more comprehensive organization is consequently to be most cordially approved. The reasons which have always existed in favor of more effective organ¬ ization are rendered at the present time peculiarly strong by the dangerous and dubious condition of the municipal finances. The taxpayer in this city is confronted by an ex¬ traordinary and a dangerous condition. On the one hand it is extremely probable that his tax bills are to be increased by an average amount not far from eight or nine per cent. On the other hand, it is also probable that very important improvements will have to be postponed or abandoned be¬ cause of the inability of the city to borrow money for the purpose. The city government, that is, will be obliged to tax real estate property more heavily than ever, while at the same time it will be unable to give to property owners the improvements demanded by the growth of the city. The situation certainly demands attention and action on the part of the taxpayers, and it is to be hoped that such action will be secured. At the present time the Board of Estimate is divided into a group which favors economic expenditure and a group which has a tendency to lavish extravagance. An efficient organization of taxpayers could be of immense as¬ sistance to the first of these groups, which includes as its chief members the Mayor and the Controller. THE purchase of the Hotel Saranac by a member of the Phipps family offers food for reflection. The price reported to have been paid for the property is $1,000,000. and in case the report is true, the value of the plot has in¬ creased by $400,000 in about six years. This seems to be a large increase in value; yet no good judge of New York real estate will infer-that the reported price is excessive. A value of $110 a square foot for property facing on Broadway and Seventh avenue and only a few feet from the intersection of Broadway and 42d street must, in the light of corresponding values in other parts of the city, be considered distinctly moderate. A rich man cannot select a surer way of making money than by the purchase of a parcel of real estate of such strategic importance and by waiting patiently for the in¬ evitable increase in value. In the present instance the price at which the property is reported to have been rented Is sufficient to pay all carrying charges and a moderate bnt sufficient interest on the investment. Any increase In value will be undiluted profit, and there is no reason to suppose that some day the property will not sell for at least double the price which has recently been paid. The intersection of Broadway, Seventh avenue and 42d street is at the present time the centre of the amusement district, and there are good reasons for believing that it will keep this distinction for many years to come. The Record and Guide has fre¬ quently explained why in its opinion the northward march of the retail trade, the theatres and the restaurants will be checked, at any rate, for a generation or so. These branches of business, instead of being distributed along a shifting line will be centralized as a result of transit improvements; and it is even possible that in case there is any shift during the next twenty years, the direction of the change will be a little to the south of Times Square instead of a little to the north. In any event a plot such as that on which the Hotel Saranac stands has a future as assured as that of the growth of Manhattan as a place of amusement and business for aa ever-increasing number of millions. Its neighborhood is be¬ coming more available than ever before, not merely as an area adapted for restaurants and hotels, but as an area adapted to business. The Hotel Normandie, somewhat to the south, is to be turned into an office building, and a structure devoted to similar purposes is to be erected by the Astor Estate on the block front on the west side of the square between 4Sd and 44th streets. It is probable that eventually the land covered by the Hotel Saranac will be used for an office building. The area is not large enough to constitute the site of a really profitable hotel, and as a hotel it will, in spite of its better location, always suffer frora the compe¬ tition of two such neighbors as the Hotel Knickerbocker and the Hotel Astor. ---------------■—-t------------------------ T^HE filing of plans for the new Equitable Braiding comes •■■ as something of a surprise. It has always been an open secret that at about the time the scandals in relation to the insurance companies became public the management of the Equitable Life was considering the erection of a much taller building on the site of its present structure, and it is now apparent that the plan has never been abandoned." There are indications, however that the new plans call for a much taller and more conspicuous building than the one pro.1ected by the foi'mer management. Even four years ago a building thirty-four stories high throughout the area of a whole block, over sixty stories high on a part thereof, and reaching in its tower a maximum height of more than 900 feet—such a building even four years ago would have seemed impossibly high. But after the Singer and Metro¬ politan Life towers indicated the advantages of such struc¬ tures and their possibilities, the notions of architects and engineers have been considerably enlarged, and in the pres¬ ent instance the purpose of the management of the company seems to have been that of building just as high as modern engineering has made possible. For the present, at any rate,, the safety and economy of a structure higher than the one planned by the Equitable Life would require a prolonged demonstration. On the other hand, the management of the company would hardly have publicly announced its inten¬ tion of constructing such a gigantic building, unless it could give, if necessary, excellent reasons on behalf both of its safety and economy. The block upon which the Equitable Building stands is the most valuable block under single own¬ ership in New York. The structure or structures now occu¬ pying the block yield a very small income upon the value of the property; and it is stated that some years ago the management of the company were convinced that the erec¬ tion of a modern building on the site would pay well, not merely for its initial cost, but would also enable the com¬ pany to earn a higher rate of interest on its immensely valu¬ able site. The filing of the plans for the new building dur-, ing the past week must be the result of this conviction; but^ of course, the management had the additional inducement of the advertising value of such a high and huge structure. If the new building is ever erected, it will constitute a tre¬ mendous advance over all competitors and it will be more talked about than any modern building in the world. It will provide probably the best opportunity for an impressive architectural effect than has been offered to any architect since the construction of St. Peter's, and if this opportunity is well used it will become one of the world's most extraor¬ dinary and interesting spectacles. TN ANNOUNCING their plans for the new building at the ■■■ present time the management of the Equitable Life have probably been influenced by two main reasons. In the first place its officers have probably feared the possibility of some restrictive legislation. It still remains wholly uncertain whether any effective restrictions upon the height of build-