crown CU Home > Libraries Home
[x] Close window

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections: The Real Estate Record

Use your browser's Print function to print these pages.

Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 82, no. 2106: July 25, 1908

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_042_00000211

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
July 25, 1908 RECORD AND GUIDE 173 ESTABUSHED^W M-ARPH 21"" •1868. Dev&TEO to flE^L ESTWE. BuiLDIN'g i\R.a(lTECTJnE .HoiISEllOlD DECORATlOrf, Birsit/Ess AffoThemes of GEfteryil Ii^terest.. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET "Publisfied Every Saturday By THE RECORD AND GUIDE CO. Prei'ident. CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vice-Pres. Sr. Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary. F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 15 East 24th Street. New York City (Telephone, Mndison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office al New rorfc N. y.. ns secoiul- elnss ma ttcr." Copj'rightcd, ISOS. by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXII. JULT 25, 1908. No. 2106 THE tax rate in Manhattan for the current year.will be 1.61 against a rate of 1.-18 for the preceding year—- which means that the property-owners of New York will find their tax bills next fall almost ten per cent, larger than they were last fall. Inasmuch as prevailing conditions do not favor an Increase in rents, this money will have to be paid by property-owners out of their own pockets; and it is no ■wonder that they are oi'gauizing and are asking for a hear¬ ing on the Budget next fall. The prospect by which they are confronted is unquestionably very serious. Not only will the tax bills paid next fall be subject to an increase of almost ten per cent., but in all probability further increases will follow. The expenses of the city are expanding at an ap- paling rate, and in spite of the opposition of the most im¬ portant members of the Board of Estimate and Apportion¬ ment. Both Mayor McClellan and Comptrollsr Metz are sin¬ cerely desirous of economy. They realize that an increase iu the tax rate makes the municipal government responsible therefor extremely unpopular, and they have always done their best to keep down the expenses of the city. But con¬ ditions have been too strong for them. Most of the increases In expenditures which have caused the larger tax rate were mandatory, and the remainder were necessitated by the in¬ creased cost of the various municipal services. In a rapidly growing city like New York the various public dep^-tments are bound to rec[uire more money for the efficient perform¬ ance of their tasks; and there is no single department thei head of which does not claim that his work is miserably hampered by lack of funds. The question is then: what is to be done? What will the representatives of the tax-payers' associations propose, when they obtain their hearing from the Board of Estimate? Of course, they will propose econ¬ omy; but in what specific way will economy be effected under existing laws and consistent with the maintenance of the various branches of the public service? We do not believe that any specific measures of economy can be proposed which the Board of Estimate has not already considered and re¬ jected on grounds connected with the public interest. The situation is, unfortunately, much more complicated and dif¬ ficult than appears at first sight. In order to protect their interests the taxpayers will have to take more energetic and decisive action than any which is yet proposed. EXTRAVAGANCE undoubtedly exists in the spending of the city's revenues. Enormous sums of money could unciuestionably be saved to the taxpayers by a more economi¬ cal administration and without any deterioration of public service. But unfortunately nobody, not even the Mayor or the comptroller, is in a position to trace this extravagance to its source and to provide a remedy. The method of keep¬ ing the city's books is such that the head of a department can waste his appropriation almost without detection; and the laws under which the municipal servants hold their offlces are such that nobody has an object in being efficient and economical. It is extremely fortunate, consequently, that a legislative committee will soon begin an investigation into the financial condition of the city. Such an investigation, provided it is ably and resolutely conducted, should be of enormous assistance in discovering the defects in the exist¬ ing muncipal organization in its relation to finance; and it should, also, help to uncover just what the future resources and responsibilities of New York are. The information so obtained will be of the utmost benefit to the Charter Revision Commission, and may result in some more radical change even than a better system of municipal bookkeeping. In the opinion of the Record and Guide the organization responsi¬ ble for the spending of the city's revenues is itself at fault. The Board of Estimate, which makes the municipal appro¬ priations, has no control over their expenditure, and the heads of departments who spend the money, have no responsibility for its appropriation. What we need is a Board of Estimate composed of the most important heads of departments, so that the money will be spent under the supervision of those -by whom it is appropriated. Every man on the Board would then have his share of the general responsibility for the eco¬ nomical conduct of the city's affairs, as well as his special responsibility to his colleagues for the efficient administra¬ tions of his own department. Such a system as this would certainly enable the taxpayers to fix the responsibility for extravagance*much better than is possible at present, SOME WEEKS ago the Record and Guide predicted that other property-owners in the financial district would follow the example of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, aud this prediction is already being fulfilled. It is ad¬ mitted that plans are seriously being considered for a tower about 1,000 feet high, to be erected over part of the enlarged Mills Building in Broad Street. Such plans have, indeed, been drawn, and may soon be filed—although- apparently there is still some doubt whether they will ever be carried out. It is probable, however, that they will not be thrown away, because, as in the case of the new Equitable Building, the. present is an advantageous moment for this kind of enterprise. Fireproof buildings can be built cheaper than for any time in many years; and it may be several more years before they cau be again be built at prevailing figures. In the meantime, it is very probable that certain restrictions will be imposed upon the erecting right of a property-owner to build as high as he pleases, so that if he has a piece of property peculiarly adapted to a very tall building, the sooner he uses his opportunity the better. The Equitable block was a conspicuous example of such a piece of property. The Mills Building, particularly, if improved in conjunction with the Drexel-Morgan property on the Wall Street corner, would constitute a still better example, while the southwest corner of Wall and Broad may be mentioned .as a third. Many more pieces of property, whose locations would be adapted to such improvements, and whose existing buildings are not too valuable to be torn down, could be mentioned, but obviously the list would be restricted by economic reasons. The erec¬ tion of many such buildings all at the sarae time would be disastrous to everybody concerned. Even the financial growth of New York would not be sufficient to fill more than two sixty-story towers every two or three years. The new Equit¬ able Building alone would accommodate about five times the number of tenants now resident on the site, and would supply as much rentable floor space as has ever been furnished in the most active building year the financial district has evel seen. In the same way a new Mills building, with a tower seventy stories high and 80x100 feet in size, would contain as many tenants as six or seven ordinary skyscrapers. It is improbable, consequently, that many more property-owners will seek to anticipate a change in the building laws by pre¬ paring for the immediate erection of towers 900 or more feet in height. NEW YORK is gradually getting to be a cleaner, healthier, and a better governed city, hut with all the improve¬ ments that are being made in these and other respects there are certain essential matters in which no improvement at all can be remarked. The municipal government is spend¬ ing many millions annually upon public conveniences, such as bridges and the like, yet New York remains as inconvenient a place in which to live as it was fifteen years ago. New York also remains an unattractive looking city in spite of the steady improvement in the standard of architectural design, and of the millions of dollars that are spent every year in erecting handsome and imposing buildings. The trouble is, of course, that the city increases in population even more rapidly than do the conveniences provided for its inhabitants, and that it seems impossible to undertake those great works of street improvement, without which New York cannot be¬ come a much more convenient or better-looking city. So far as Manhattan is concerned, the whole future of the borough, as an economical place in which to transact business, and as the most metropolitan part of the American business and social metropolis, depends upon a better system of streets.