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. 2180: December 25, 1909

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_044_00001205

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
December 25, igog RECORD AISD GUIDE 1157 Dr^iri) p RpJ4. Estate, Building A^RcKnEeruRE ,l{ouaEaou» DEOflpDi^ Busii/ess AifeThemes OF Gb|Ier,4 IrfrEBfM.^ PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Tubfished Every Satarday By THE RECORD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vlce-Pres. ft Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 15 East 24tli Street, New Yorli City (Telephone. Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office at New Tork, A. Y., as second-class matter." Copyrighted, 1909, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXIV. DECEMBER 25, 1909. No. 2ISO IT is not too much to say tbat the new municipal adminis¬ tration starts with a fairer chance ol being useful to the city than any administration of recent years. Although its members were elected on (jifferent tickets, they are all ot- tbem disinterested and public-spirited men, and they have exhibited a commendable disposition to ignore past differ¬ ences aud to unite upon a common platform of devotion to the interests of tbe whole city. They bave a difflcult and a complicated tasli ahead of them—-more dilBcult and com¬ plicated than that which faced any of their predecessors. They are committed to a policy of subway construction at tbe earliest possible moment, and, if uecessary, at the public expense. They will be obliged to continue the policy of undertaking those public improvements wbicb are an in¬ separable adjunct to tbe increase of the city in population and business. At the same time, they are also committed to a policy of iu some way economizing both the city's reg¬ ular appropriations and its extraordinary expenditures on tbe capital account. Such a policy is forced upon tbem, not merely by their ante-election pledges, but by tbe actual finan¬ cial condition of the city. The tax-rate has beeu increasing steadily of late, and it cannot keep on increasing without seriously injuring the business growth of New York. The increase in the assessed valuation of real estate will not average during the next few years more than $300,000,000 a year, which will mean an increased income at the exist¬ ing tax-rate of about $5,000,000. In one way or another the increase in the budget will have to be kept down to that figure, aud considering the growing needs of tbe city in cer¬ tain important respects, it may be doubted whether tbe in¬ crease in the annua! appropriations can be confined to the limits mentioned without the saving of some of the existing sources of waste. A similar condition will confront the new Board of Estimate in relation to the prob,lem of capital ex¬ penditures. Leaving subways out of consideration, tbey will be obliged to keep the increase in the net debt down to about $30,000,000 a year, and they will not be able to do this without rigid economy. But their task, although diffi¬ cult, is far from being impossible, and the new Board of Estimate will have oue advantage in managing tbe finances. Tbe new borough presidents are men of unusually superior quality, who have been elected ou reform tickets, and have every reason to redeem their pledges. There is a good chance, that they will be willing to co-operate with the rest of the board in the attempt which must be made to secure for tbe city five dollars worth of value for every flve dollars expended. OP all tbe flnancial and administrative questions whicii will be pressed upon tbe attention of the new Board of Estimate that of subway construction is most important. Every member of the board is explicitly and emphatically pledged to improve tbe existing means of communication, and yet rapid transit is precisely that aspect of the city's business affairs, over which the Board of Estimate has least control. In this region its Jurisdiction is shared witb the Public Ser¬ vice Commission, and hitherto these two bodies have sys¬ tematically adopted different opinions as to the proper policy of the city in respect to. subway construction. How, then, is the new board going to redeem its pledges in this all- important matter? There is only one way in which such a result can be accomplished. They must seek to reach some preliminary agreement with the Public Service Com¬ mission as to the routes to be constructed, aud the terms by which their construction and subsequent operation shall be determined. Tbe two boards must in some way "get to¬ gether," and the way in which this act or process of get¬ ting together caa best be accomplished, has already beeu outlined by the new president of tbe Board of Aldermen, Mr. iVlitcbel. He has recently suggested in a public speech that a standing sub-committee be appointed by the Board of Esti¬ mate, whose especial function it should be to confer with tbe Public Service Commission to discuss possible points of difference, aud to reach the main planks of a platform of subway constructiou, upon which the two commissions can stand. This is an admirable proposal, and it is very much to be hoped that the Board of Estimate will act upon it. There is no assurance, of course, tliat even such a sensible way of anticipating possible disagreements will prove to be successful. Tbe distinguishing characteristic of tbe Public Service Commission hitherto has been a jealous insistence upon every scrap of authority which could possibly be ex¬ torted from the law, and an equally stubborn disposition to attribute any opposition to its policy to the worst of motions or to the height of unintelligence aud misinformation. If tbe Public Service Commission continues to behave in its accustomed manner, no sub-committee of tbe Board of Esti¬ mate will be able to prevent a continuation of tbe cross- purposes and disagreements which have done so much in the past to hinder subway construction. But it is certainly up to tbe Board of Estimate to make an attempt to reach an agreement, and if the attempt fails their hands will at least be washed free of responsibility. The jurisdiction of the two Boards in the matter of subway contracts is co-ordinate, and they should do their best to unite on a commou policy, and so avoid the delays that would inevitably result from the lack of some initial understanding. ANOTHER suggestion made by the new President of the Board of Aldermen, Mr. Mitchell, in the same speech, is also well worthy of adoption. He recommends tbat a comprehensive system of subway and elevated routes be prepared for the whole city, and tbat no contracts for new subways should be let unless the new subway has its proper place in sucli a comprehensive plan. It is very much to be hoped that the other members of the new Board of Estimate will agree with Mr. Mitchell in this respect, and will urge upon the Public Service Commission the importance T)f preparing such a comprehensive scheme. Over seven years ago ex-Mayor Low pointed out clearly and emphatic¬ ally its necessity, and tbe old Rapid Transit Commission did a great deal of preliminary work towards its preparation. The Public Service Commission has, on the other, hand, never shown any interest in laying out a complete system of rapid transit routes. When it assumed offlce it committed itself immediately to tbe construction of the Broadwaj^-Lexington avenue route in Manhattan, and the Fourth avenue route in Brooklyn, and both of these subways violated the'idea upon which systematic subway construction should be based. In the case of the Manhattan route it merely duplicated the existing subway for a large part of its course; and in the case of the Brooklyn route it subordinated immediate and pressing to more remote and less essential needs. The pre¬ paration of a systematic plan of rapid transit construction, coupled with the classification of the several routes as more or less immediately necessary, will make the commission of similar errors more difficult in tbe future. IF THE existing real estate market continues throughout the winter and spring, there is no doubt that during the course of its activity a great many records will be broken. It appears certain that the chief characteristic of the genera! situation will continue to be the permanent appropriation of peculiarly desirable sites for business firms or corporations, which need the advantages of such a location. This process, which long ago had been carried very far in the financial district, has of late years been conspicuous along upper Pifth avenue and Broadway, and the high prices which had come to prevail on those thoroughfares tempted one to forget that when corners on Pifth aveuue are worth $200 a square foot, corners in the Financial District must be worth correspond¬ ingly more. The recent sale of the Giilender Building, at the corner of Nassau and Wall streets, indicates that the Finan¬ cial district is as far as possible from losing its pre-eminence as tbe locality in which the value of real estate soars to Its highest point. If the figures given out are approximately