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. 2108: August 8, 1908

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_042_00000321

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
Angust 8, 1908 RECORD AND GUIDE 283 Dp^teD to Re\L Estate . BuiLoiffe A^RChfiTEirumE .KouscrioiD DEeQU^iical, Btfsii^ESs AtiJThemes ofGEflER^l It/iti^Esi. PRICE DOLLARS PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Vublisffed Every 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 Elast 24tli Street, Kcir York: City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) •■Entered at the Post Office at New Yarli. N. Y., ns second-class matter." Copyrighted, lOOS, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol LXXXII. AUGUST 8, 190S. No. 2108 THE number of plans for new fireproof buildings which are being recorded continues to be surprisingly large. Tbe budget of the past two weeks includes two new sky¬ scrapers for the flnancial district, one of which will con¬ tain a thirty-eight story tower and several large apartment houses for various parts of the West Side. It is evident that speculators and investors are doing their best to take ad¬ vantage of the temporary cheapness of building, which, they are fully convinced, will not last very long. How long it will last is, of course, merely a matter of guesswork; but it is probable that by next spring tlie cost of building will have substantially increased. We have heard of one big building in Chicago for which contracts will be given out before No¬ vember 1, in the expectation that prices will begin to go up after the election. However that may be, anybody with a building enterprise in prospect would do well to make his contracts during the next few months. He certainly will not be able to build any cheaper next spring; and he may have to pay a substantial increase for his materials, if not for his labor. It is a great pity that the City of New York is not in a position to take advantage of the comparative economy of constructional work. If contracts for the building of new SU'bways could he let during next fall, many million dollars could be saved on the cost of construction, and the city would consequently be able to obtain much better terms for any concession it was ready to grant. But unfortunately, the City of New York is never in a position to make the most of such opportunities. T T^ 7 HAT a misfortune it is that New York does not pos- VV sess a larger number of squares in the important busiuess parts of the city! A spacious square provides such admirable sites for the towering skyscrapers, which are be¬ coming more and more the peculiar note of the city's archi¬ tecture. Compare, for instance, the effect produced by the tower of the Metropolitan Building with tbat produced by the tower of the Singer Building. The latter structure can scjtrcely be seen &rom any of the neighboring streets. It makes no impression commensurate with its height, except when looked at from the river or from some other distance equally considerable; and from these great distances it counts merely as the apex of a huge pyramid, composed of the mass of the oiRce buildings of the flnancial district. The Metro¬ politan tower, on the other hand, cau be clearly seen from any part of Madison Square, and as seen from the square it looks very well. Its height is not out of scale with the distance from which people can gaze at it; and this consid¬ eration should not be disregarded in any restrictive legis¬ lation concerning the height of skyscrapers. In such a situation the tower is not so objectionable from any point of view as it is wheu placed on an ordinary street and avenue. There is no reason why their erection should not be encour¬ aged on sites of this description—in which case the chief source of legitimate regret would be that the plan of the city provides so few squares on which seven or eight hundred- foot towers could be built. TVr 0\V that the Metropolitan Street Railway system is be- ■*- ' ing broken up, the people of New York may begin to appreciate the advantages which they have enjoyed and lost. In building up that system the late Mr, Whitney was achiev¬ ing a task of the greatest advantage to New York. Dou'btless this fact does not condone the methods which he and his associates used; but it should determine the policy of the Public Service Commission and the other local officials to¬ ward the system under the present critical conditions. Every effort should be used to prevent it from heing disintegrated. The public has everything to lose and nothing to gain from the return of the separate parts of the system to their for¬ mer owners. How this is to be done is not apparent just now. The receivers, who are responsible to the stockholders for the economical management of their property, certainly cannot be expected to continue the payment of rentals, which are not and never can be earned. The only way out of the tangle would seem to lie in the direction of an acceptance by the owners of the unprofitable lines of a smaller rental for their property; and as a matter of fact it is in the direction of such a consummation that the Public Service Commission should work. Even if these leased lines are not profltable under the old contracts, they would certainly be more profit¬ able as parts of the Metropolitan system than they could be when independently operated. Independent operation might mean fewer transfers, but it would also mean larger ex¬ penses and fewer passengers. It will be to everybody's in¬ terest, consequently, to keep this system together, and it should be possible in the end to bring about such a result. But in the meantime the residents of Manhattan wil! be paying more for a poorer service than that which they have been get- ing; and they may well regret the days of the domination of the street railway octopus. TJ UILDING operations are believed to he approaching the -tJ edge of a period of fine activity, but thus far into the year they have heen indisputably slow. Actual works in hand have been fewer in number than even the plans filed have in¬ dicated, owing to the holding back of many projects; and the truest guides to correct estimates of the real state of affairs have come from the trade unions and from the dealers iu building material. These have indicated only a slight en¬ largement of New York activities, but a decided improvement elsewhere throughout the land. In the Eastern States busi¬ ness is more brisk in the smaller cities than in the larger ones, but almost everywhere else than in New York there has been a strong forward push since tbe first of July, and the probabilities are that New York will get it very soon. Plans filed in Manhattan up to the flrst of August specified $50,000,000 worth of new buildings, as against about $54,- 000,000 appropriated during the same period last year. This year's plans represented however only about one-half as many buildings as last year's, which follows from the delay in re¬ suming speculative work this season. In the Bronx only about $8,400,000 has been specifled for new buildings so far, to compare with about |14,000,000 last year; and in Brook¬ lyn the estimated cost of the new buildings for which plans have been flled is only about one-third the estimated cost in 1907. But more particularly referring to the work coming out in New York, it consists in a larger degree than usual of high-class construction, including some exceptionally large buildings, which are slow in taking form, but will give employ¬ ment to armies of workmen in due course of time, and utilize a wide variety of material and equipment. Tenement-house construction, on the other hand, gathers headway rapidiy, and we note that the business agents of the trade unions expect a culmination of building operations when there will be a con¬ gestion of applications for mechanics. Many of those belong¬ ing in New York are now dispersed over the country, well engaged, but subject to two days' notice to return to New York when their services shall be needed. Thousands of new¬ comers, who added to the total of the unemployed here last winter, departed in the spring, so that considering this class with the regular New Yorkers now elsewhere engaged the amount of unemployment is much less than on the first of April, when the State Labor Department reported 56.0 per cent, of the union members idle in the State, as compared with 37.3 in the year 1907, 11.1 per cent, in 1906 and 21.9 per cent, in 1905, with New York a heavier sufferer than the rest of the State. The degree of unemployment in the first quarter of this year was greater than in any previous year back to 1897, when there was a brief interruption in tbe steady improvement in business after the panic of 1893. New York City, apart from its own local building interests, feels the lifting power that comes from the general improvement throughout the country, and hence many firms of manufac¬ turers and dealers not confined exclusively to this fleld re¬ port business as fair in their lines, and though this does not apply to all, the number is increasing every week,