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. 84, no. 2176: November 27, 1909

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_044_00000989

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
November 27, 1969 RECORD AND GUIDE &47 ESTABUSHED'W (\HV.CHBiy^ 1868, DnfelEB p f^EsTOT.BuiLDIflo AR!::JflTECTJnE.Ko'"3EliOlDteBatfIli3»^^ BlfSIlftSSAllDTHEHIESbrGElfeRAl l[/TERfS1[^ PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Publisfted Every Saturday By THE RECORD AND GUTDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer. F. W. DODGE Vioe-Pres, fi: Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to IB Hast 24th Street, Ne-tv Yorlc CEty (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office at New York, N. Y.. as second-class matter." Copyrighted, 1909, by The Record fi; Guide Co. Vol. LXXXIV. NOVEMBER 27, 190D. No. 2176 PERHAPS the most loteresting real estate ne'ws of the week is the anuoiincement that the Pennsylvaiiia Rail¬ road Company is really going to lay ont an eighty-foot street opposite the Concourse of the station, and running from Thirty-third to Thirty-fourth street. This street wi!l pro¬ vide an additional means of access to the station and will greatly facilitate the movement of the vehicniar traffic to-wards and a-way from the Terminal. It is probable, also, that the company can afford to surrender the 80x200 feet, required for this street witliout any loss to itself. It owns very large frontages on both Thirty-third and Thirty-fourth streets and opposite the station, and tbe increased value of the remainder of the plot resulting from the frontage on the new streetway wili be sufficient to compensate the company for the cost of that part of the property which will be turned over to the public use. The whole incident is a lesson in the way street improvements could almost, if not quite, be made to pay for themselves, provided the city had the legal power to condemn the property immediately adjoining that needed for a new street, and provided the cost of condemna¬ tion proceedings to the city was not unnecessarily increased by wasteful and unscientific methods. When the Pennsyl¬ vania Railroad Company secured the right to build a Ter¬ minal at Thirty-third street and Seventh avenue, a wise and far-seeing city goverument, possessed of sufficient powers, would bave behaved in the following manner: It would have foreseen both the need of abundant access to the new station aud the congestion of traffic which would take place in Greeley Square as a result of the business development of the neighborhood. It would, consequently, have purchased all the property between Seventh avenue. Sixth avenue. Thirty-fourth and Thirty-first streets; and it would then have prepared a general plan of street improvement, which would have provided both for convenient and sufficient access to the station and for the needs of future traffic across Gree¬ ley Square. Then the rest of the property would have ijeen re-sold to private individuals in plots adapted to the needs of the neighborhood, and at prices which would have reim¬ bursed the city for the expense ot the operation. The actual course adopted has, of course, been precisely the oppcsite of the one suggested. The city authorities were partly unable and partly unwilling to take oue single step Eor the purpose of preparing the street system of the neighborhood for the additional demands which would be made upon it. They allowed seven years to pass, during which the valne of real estate thereabouts increased by leaps and bounds, and when finally they tried on the eve of the opening of the station, means to widen one street between Seventh avenue and Greeley Square, the cost had become so great that they shrank from the undertaking. Moreover, such a widening would necessarily have been an extravagant procedure, both for the city and the individual property owners. The city would bave been obliged to purchase the needed twenty feet on each side of the street at a high price without obtaining any compensation from the increased value of the remain¬ der of the street. At the same time, the residue of the lot not in the hands of the individual property-owners, would have been so reduced in size that it could not bave been used to the best economical advantage. In this way every¬ body would have suffered by the process of appropriation. The city would have paid top prices, and obtained the mini¬ mum of benefit. Individual property-owners would have been left with mutilated and comparatively useless lots on their hands. And the total expense would have been huge. Ou the other hand, the action of the Pennsylvania Company shows how a much better result could have been accom¬ plished at a much smaller expense. In planning for a new street frOm Thirty-third to Thirty-fourth atreet, it paid indi¬ vidual property-owners good prices, while real estate was comparatively cheap. It reaped the advantage of the sub¬ sequent increase of value, and can now throw away 16,000 square feet of space, and improve the accessibility of the station with but slight, if any, cost to itself. IT is a singular fact that retail merchants have not aa yet shown auy sufficient appreciation of the advantage of securing locations in the Immediate vicinity of the Pennsyl¬ vania station. The real estate on all the avenues and streets leading towards the Terminal has, of course, long been held by speculators. They have been asking prices which may bave looked stiff to a retail firm which had no means of estimating the probable future value of a location near the station; and the consequnce has been that only two or three leases or purchases have as yet been reported on the part of the class of people who will eventually use the property. Yet nothing is more certain than that ultimately retail flrms will have to pay higher prices for the property they need than those hitherto demanded by the speculators. There can be no doubt tbat the streets and avenues immediately in the vicinity of the station and leading directly thereto will con¬ tain as good sites for retail stores of a certain kind as any which can be found in Manhattan, Seventh avenue between Forty-second and Thirty-fourth streets will be better adapted to retail trade than is Forty-secoud street between Broadway aud the Grand Central Station. The side streets between the Terminal and Greeley Square will lead from a square that will become the most important centre of business in the middle region of Manhattan to the largest railroad station iu the largest city in America. There is no telling, conse¬ quently, bow high the values of well-situated real estate near the station may climb. It will not be until somewhere be¬ tween flve and ten years after the station is opened that the final level of values will be reached, because it will take at least that much time to develop the traffic in Long Island tributary to the station, and to develop, also, the business advantages of Greeley Square and its neighborhood. The celerity of this development will depend partly upon the date on which the Public Service Commission will allow the city to bave the benefit of a lower West Side Subway, But although the ultimate level of values will come slowly it will undoubtedly be, when it does come, as high as anything else of the same kind to be found in Maahattan. The dominant characteristic of tbe real estate development of Manhattan during the past five years has been the gradual appreciation of the most advantageous retail sites in the Borough by business men who needed them, and at hitherto unprece¬ dented prices for that class of property. The explanation of this movement is that the Middle District of Manhattan is uow assuming a comparatively flxed distribution of business usage. The retail trade will not continue to creep uptown as it has done hitherto. It will be held to its present loca¬ tions by the need of remaining accessible to the millions of people living on Long Island and New Jersey. But in this process of appropriation the streets leading to the Pennsyl¬ vania station have hitherto been neglected and their gradual appropriation for business purposes and at record prices will be one of the most conspicuous facts of the real estate mar¬ ket during the next year or two. THE Record and Gnide pointed out last week that Broad¬ way, west of Central Park, was violating real estate precedents in Manhattan, because it was destined to be au important business thoroughfare, while at the same time re¬ maining the site of the largest and most expensive apartment houses on the West Side. It should be remarked also that Park avenue to the east of Central Park, is also violating a rea! estate precedent in Manhattan—the precedent which bas prevented an avenue from being desirable for a combination of expensive private residences and apartment houses. Of course, there are thoroughfares like Madison avenue, which are lined for a part of their distance both with handsome dwellings and with fine apartments; but in this and in other similar instances what is really taking place is a process of substitution. Madison avenue is merely changing from a resi¬ dence to an apartment house thoroughfare, and if a con¬ flagration were to destroy the existing buildings thereon,