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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 84, no. 2172: October 30, 1909

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October 30, 1909 RECORD AND GmDE 763 ESTABUSHE3)^UJWPH21^=>1868. mm ''% OkMJ jo f^L EsTWi-SmLoif/G AR,a(iTEcrTUR.E ,t{oiiaE3JoiDpEea^«ni\ Bil5fi/Ess Alto Themes of GEffeRsl It/TERjai^ PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Published Every Saturday By THE RECORD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vlce-Pres. & Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Woa. 11 to 15 East 24tli Street, New Vork City (Telephone. Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office at New York, N. Y.. as second-class matter." Copyrighted. 1009, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXIV. OCTOBER 30, 1909. No. 2172 THE recent sale of some residences of West Seventy-ninth Street for the purpose of constructing an apartment Iiouse on tlieir site is an interesting indication of the dom¬ inant tendency in New York real estate. The only reason why people continue to live in private dwellings on the West Side is that such a type of building prevails In large num¬ bers throughout that neighborhood. In case a fire I'.estroyed the existing houses on tbe West Side, the whole district would be re-improved with apartment houses, and the reason why the re-improvement does not take place more rapidly at tne present time is that the tenement house law interferes. On a good street like Seventy-ninth Street it is possible to erect the twelve-story fireproof apartment houses which have be¬ come the only profitable type of construction on the West Side; but on narrow streets it does uot pay to tear down existing residences in order to replace* them merely with six- story buildings. The consequence is that on the corners and on wide streets a considerable amount of reconstruction wiil take place. Whereas on the ordinary side street the existing dwellings will linger lonp after they have auy real reason for existence. In every part of Manhattan the apartment bouse is gaining considerably on the private dwelling. Even ou the East Side tbe co-operative apartment house is finding accommodations for many families who formerly occupied private residences, and the demand for individual bouses is ■palpably less than it was a few years ago. It is surely worth considering whether this fact should uot be recognized in the tenement-house law. There is no reason why fireproof apart¬ ment houses should not be erected on the side streets, pro¬ vided sufficient court areas are provided; and in view of tbe burden which the provision places ou Manbattan property- owners, the law should be amended to that respect. THE purchase of the northwest corner of Thirty-eighth .Street and Madison Avenue by a neighboring property- owner, so as to prevent the erection thereon of a business building will probably serve to prevent any business invasion of that part of Madison Aveuue for another ten years. Of course it will tempt real estate operators to undertake simi¬ lar operations whenever an opportunity occurs, but presuma¬ bly the neighboring property-owners would not have gone to the heavy expense of preventing the erection of the proposed building, unless they saw their way to controlling otber property which might be used for similar purposes. There is no reason why Madison and Park Avenues, between Thirty- fifth and Forty-first Streets cannot be kept almost entirely free from business for an indefinite period. Inasmuch as there are plenty of rich people, who like the convenience oi' living in a central location south of Forty-second Street, and who are willing to pay very high prices for the privilege, these few blocks on Murray Hill are really more valuable for residence than for business purposes; and the business in¬ terests of the city will not be injured by their retention in the hands of the owners of private dwellings. Eventually business is bound to take possession of this entire neighbor¬ hood, but it may be hoped tbat the local property-owners will be able to fight off the invasion for as long as they wish to d'o so.' The Murray Hill district is oue of the pleasantest in Manhattan, and its conversion into au ordinary business sec¬ tion would be a loss rather than a gain. On the other hand the rest of Madison Avenue wilt.within tbe next few years be rapidly developed for business purposes. Between Tweuty- sisth and Thirty-fourth Streets about ten business buildings have recently been constructed, and during the next few years the majority of the old brown stone residences of this quarter will assuredly disappear. Nortb of Forty-second Street, the process will be slower, but no less inevitable. The blocks immediately north of Forty-second Street have already become very valuable for retail purposes. Further north the existence of certain large apartment houses will deprive the retail trade of many of the best cornere, but it will creep into the old brown-stone houses in the middle of the blocks. Particularly north of Fifty-ninth Street Madison Avenue has ceased to be very desirable as a private residential thorough¬ fare. Property on the avenue has not shared in the increase in values which has so generally taken place throughout the East Side residential district, and the present dwellings wili gradually give way to apartment houses with stores on the ground floor. In case a Madison Avenue subway is built this process will be very much accelerated. The mere con¬ structiou of the subway will make the avenue for several years a comparatively unpleasant place in which to live, and after it is completed the building of apartment houses with stores on the street will proceed rapidly. CONSIDEPaNG the benefits which were supposed to accrue to the property-owner from a better method of budget making, the preliminary estimates for the coming year are not so very encouraging. There will be an increase of over $6,000,000 in the total appropriations, and the best that can be said about this increase is that it will not mean any sub¬ stantial change in the tax rate. Considering the large amount of new building which has recently taken place, and certain increases in real estate values, the assessed valuation oC reai property may possibly expand as much as $300,000,000, aud the existing tax rate levied on this increase will produce about $5,000,000. There can be no doubt that the Board of Esti¬ mate has really tried to keep appropriations down aud that it would have succeeded in doing so effectually, had it not been necessary to make appropriations for certain expenses which bave hitherto been escaped by vicious methods of book¬ keeping. But the Record and Guide has never believed that it lay within the ability of the administrative officials of the city with the legal authority now at their command to effect any substantial decrease in the city's expenses, and if any of the candidates for the ofiice of Mayor are elected wbo have promised such economies, they will probably disappoint their supporters. That New York wholly fails to get full value for its enormous expenditures we fully believe, but there is also every reason to believe that the process of economizing demands a drastic administrative reorganization. The first step towards such a reorganization is the adoption of the Ivins charter, and until it is adopted, any promises about economical and efficient administration will be prac¬ tically impossible to keep. NOW that New York is on the brink of the election there is every reason to believe that the constitutional amend¬ ment of tbe debt-limit will be accepted by voters. The ques¬ tion has not bulked large in the public speaking, but no oue of the candidates for Mayor has opposed it, and at least two have warmly approved it. The average voter will believe that a vote on behalf of the constitutional amendment will be a vote in favor of more subways, and he will be right. The final decision of the Court of Appeals in relation to the debt-limit, although it was assuredly a wise decision, does uot afford New York the credit it needs to continue subway construc¬ tion. It leaves the debt margin at something less than $100,- 000,000, and considering the responsibilities of the city in other respects, that margi^n is not large enough for the pur¬ pose of continuing the construction of a municipal subway system. The Broadway-Lexington Avenue subway alone is estimated to cost as much as that. In case any necessity arises for the further use of the city's credit for purposes of subway construction, a larger margin will be necessary) and if this margin is obtained by means of the constitutional amendment, it will be obtained under conditions which will prevent its usa upon unremunerative enterprises. Taxpayers should consequently voie for the amendment. A vote in op¬ position to it is a vote to tie the hands of the municipal au¬ thorities in their negotiations with corporations for the con¬ struction and operation of future subways. The Record and Guide believes that, considering the standing of the city's credit at the present time. New York stock should not be issued for subway construction, provided such an issue can be avoided. If subways can be built by private companiea