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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 82, no. 2123: November 21, 1908

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November 2t, 1908 KECORD AND GmDE 96s Dieted to Rea,L ^aje , BuiLddJg At^TECi one ,Kou seHoid DEaa^HiMt BiTsii/ESS AtfoThemes ofGetJeraI !i^ter.est. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Published Every Saturday By THB RECORD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGH Viee-Pres. Se Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, P. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 15 East £4ili Street, New York City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entei-ed at the Post Office at New York, N. Y., os sceond-elass matter." Copyrighted. 190S, by The Record Sc Guide Co. Vol. LXXXII. NOVEMBER, 21, 1908. No. 2123 IT IS HARDLY PROBABLE that the Madison Square Gar¬ den will be sold to any purchaser or group of purchasers, who wiil tear it down. New Yorlv City has no other large arena so well adapted Eor automobile and horse shows and other similar public entertainments; and the large numhers of wealthy business men wlio are interested in such exhibitions will probably combine and purchase it, so as to save it from possible destruction. It would almost pay the hotel Iteepers and proprietors alone to put up the .money necessary to se¬ cure its perpetuity; and any such combination of interested gentlemen will probably have no difflculty in malting the purchase at a price somewhat lower than the one announced in the daily papers. There is not lilvely to be any very active competition, and in the present state of its finances the city ofBcials will not wish to impose any part of the burden on the taxpayers. The purchase of the Garden by any company o£ interested business men would probably have one unfortunate result. It would probably mean that the building would be altered in order to make it a better- paying enterprise, and such an alteration could hardly fail to diminish its-architectural effectiveness. Madison Square Garden is one of the earliest and most interesting of McKim, Mead & White's huildings, and the design is of such a nature that any really remunerative alteration could oniy be carried out at the expense of the architectural perfection of the sev¬ eral parts of the building. Ah increased revenue would de¬ mand the installation of shops on the two aveuue frontages and probably the utilization of the Madison av front for a hotel or some similar purposes. The theatre, concert hall and roof garden to which that frontage is now devoted have never paid, and they are never liltely to pay; and no associa¬ tion of business men would continue to carry tiiem at a ioss. Yet any really remunerative utilization of the same space would mean a tall building on the western end of the lot, and the complete destruction of the present design, with the tower as its dominant feature. IT IS AN EXTRAORDINARY FACT that a city like New York has not been able to make a buiiding like the Madison Square Garden profitable; but we imagine that the failure is not a conclusive indication that another better- planned enterprise of the same kind would fall. The truth is that the Garden was not well adapted either in its location or its plan to be a really remunerative building. At the time it was erected, almost twenty years ago, the location seemed indeed to be perfect, because at that period Madison Square was near the heart of the amusement district and only a few hundred yards from Broadway. But iu the meantime the amusement district has moved up to a location a half a mile or more farther north; and the whole tendency of the im¬ provement of Madison Square runs in the direction of offlce and loft buildings. Within the next ten years the square itself and all the adjacent streets will be solidly built over with large business edifices, and it. v\V. consequently be almost as deserted after the hours of business as is Union Square at the present time. Furthermore, it will have be¬ come comparatively less accessible to a large proportion of the population of the city. It has, indeed, the advantage of_ proximity to the Subway, and that fact is unquestionably of. great and increasing importance; but the trafflc centre, like the amusement centre of' Manhattan, . has unquestionably shifted further up town. An ideal location for a large, arena such as the Madison Square Garden would be the block bounded by Sixth and Seventh avs, 33rd and 3-2nd sts, and we believe that it might well pay the railroad companies interested in this block to place upon it a structure similar in function to the Madison Square Garden, In spite of the fact that this block would cost a larger sum of money with¬ out any building than would the Garden, building and all, there would be a better chance of making an arena in such a location pay. An enormous revenue could be derived from a properly planned structure on such a site. The store space would be very much more valuable in the location further uptown, and it would not take a great deal of ingenuity to devise a plan, combining* a hotel, a theatre and a number of minor places of amusement, which would mean a large per¬ manent revenue to the proprietary company. Furthermore, the arena itself could be planned in such a way as to be capable, if necessary, of some kind of subdivision. Of course, it would be essential to the success of such an enterprise that the competition of the Madison Square Garden should be eliminated, and as long as the Garden continues to stand prudent business men would not invest any money in a com¬ peting project. But if by any chance, a railroad company or a department store should prove to be the eventual pur¬ chaser of the Garden, and if the 33rd st block was at that time still unimproved, the erection of a well-planned struc¬ ture, devoted to a variety of business and amusement pur¬ poses would be the best disposition that could be made of the terminal property. THE PRICE at which the Madisou Square Garden is said to be offered for sale and the price which Messrs. Best & Co, are said to have paid for the northwest corner of 35th st and Fifth av offer interesting materia! for comparison. The plot on which the Garden stands must contain about 120,000 square feet; and the asking price is said to be $3,500,000. Even if the company would not take any less, which is wholly improbable, this would make a price of about $30 a square foot for the whole plot. On the other hand, Messrs. Best & Company have purchased or leased about 12,000 square feet at the corner of 35th st and Fifth av at a reported price not far from ?1S0 a square foot. The values reported in this instance, while large, are not by any means more than were to he expected. After making full allowance for the fact that the comparison is being made between a corner near 34th st and a whole block, with an enormous frontage on the side streets, one cannot help wondering whether such a disparity will continue to subsist between values of business property on Madison and Fifth avs. Any large retail store which wishes to secure a loca¬ tion on Fifth av cannot do so without paying prices corre¬ sponding to those paid by Messrs. Best & Co. It has indeed become almost impossible to secure plots large enough for a really considerable retail business. Best & Co. are, of course, sellers of special goods, and did not need as much space as would a large dry goods store; but with the exception of two plots it would, we believe, be practically impossible to pur¬ chase another site equally as large, or anywhere near so advantageously situated. Nearly all the corners have passed into the possession of business men, who have secured them for permanent use, and they cannot be bought even at a considerable advance over existing values. The situation is such that eventually an overflow to Madison av is extremely probable. There are a number of dry goods and other firms, still situated on 23d st or south thereof, who will be obliged eventually to move, but who find it impossible to secure the space they need on Fifth av. It is possible that one or more of them may be able to secure an entrance on Fifth av con¬ nected with a sufficiently large plot fronting on two streets; but the acquisition even of such a plot would be a matter of extreme difficulty. A firm in such a situation cannot very well accept a location on a side street near Fifth av, and it looks as if they would have no alternative but to take to Madison av. In this connection the ultimate fate of the Madison Square Garden will be a matter of the utmost inter¬ est. If it should be bought as the site for a retail store, its purchase for such a purpose would probably determine the early improvement of Madison av between 26th and 34th sts with buildings devoted to "that branch of trade; and it looks as if that would be the best fate which could befall it. Tt cannot remain in its present unremunerative condition. The task of making it remunerative would be a precarious one at best, and would necessarily destroy the impressive- ness of its architecture. Better destroy than mutilate it. On f