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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 85, no. 2192: March 19, 1910

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March 19, 1910 RECORD AND GUIDE 585 .KTABDSHED ^ M.M^'H SVY^ 186 8. .tofeiED 10 Rem E:sTAjE.,BiJiLoifJG ^gKitecturh .KouseKold Deqqe^timI. Bifsirfcss A»to Themes OF GEflER^L Interest ., PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to ' C. W. SWEET Published EVerff Satardag By THE RECORD AJSD GXJIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET ' Treasurer, F. W. DODGE VlCB-Pres, Sc Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER NoH. 11 to 15 East 24tli Street, New VorU City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) ' 'Entered at the Post Off CO at Neio York , N..Y.. as S'cond -ehiss matter." Copyrighted. 1010, by Tho rtecord £ Guide Co. Vol. LXXXV-. MARCH 10, 1910- No, 2192 THB real estate market has during the past two weeks been perceptibly gaining both in the volume and in the variety ol" current activity. The investment demand for improved property has continued. The number of purchases of lots for improvement with loft huildings have augmented. Building projects of all kinds are multiplying in number. Many sales of property are taking place in the downtown business district. Private residences appear to be in fair demand—a demand wbich is undoubtedly Increased because of the large number of mid-town brownstone dwellings which are being sold to builders. But perhaps the most interesting single characteristic of the real estate situation in Manhattan continues to be the continued popularity of co-operative apartment house enterprises. Only a couple of these schemes have been deflnitely announced this spring; but there are fully a dozen of them In the stage of prepara¬ tion and many of these will undoubtedly develop. Buyers have not been discouraged by the fact that certain of the co-operative buildings already erected have not proved to be brilliant successes; aud they are right in assuming this attitude, because the best buildings recently erected are often a decided improvement on the earlier ones both in economy of plan and in the conservatism of financial ar¬ rangements- The contemporary plans have abandoned the earlier studio idea entirely and have saved a good deal of space thereby. They contain a much greater variety of apartments, and can accommodate, consequently, families of very varying means. There is a tendency also to increase the cost of an apartment to the stockholders iu the begin¬ ning, and in this way to reduce the proposition of borrowed money. In certain buUdings the average apartment sells for as much as $30,000; but in that case there is a very small chance of any subsequent assessment. The most popular locations for these buildiugs are broad thoroughfares, like Central Park West and Park avenue, because on such sites buildings can be erected 150 feet high. So far as the East Side is concerned the ultimate effect of this movement on the value of residential real estate has been to Increase the price of avenue as compared to street lots—excepting those forming part of a corner. The co-operative apartment houses have to be erected on the avenues or wide streets, and the diversion of this demand away from the narrow streets has kept Bast Side residential property in a stationary condition. TO one who has followed the vicissitudes of the project for building a new County Court House, the opposition which has suddenly been aroused against the latest site is not surprising. It seems impossible to find a site in the borough of Manhattan that the county can afford to buy, aud which is acceptable to a sufficiently large element of inter¬ ested public opinion. The first idea was merely to extend the existing building; but that provoked so much hostility that it was immediately abandoned. Then a commission was appointed, and it successively recommended four dif¬ ferent sites. The first in the neighborhood of Mulberry Bend Park was rejected because of the mean character of the surroundings. The second in the vicinity of Broadway and Chambers street was discovered to cost too much. A simi¬ lar objection was made to the third on Union Square. Then the committee selected a cheaper site in Washington Square; but the lawyers would not consider it on account of its inconvenience. Under the new administration a new start was made and the decision adopted to occupy an enlargea site in City Hall Park, P'or a while this project met with an extraordinary amount of acquiescence; but obviously acquiescence was not tantamount to approval- The inevi¬ table opposition arose; and it has come from very respectable sources. First, tlie local chapter of the American Institute of Architects protested against any further occupation of the Park and against the erection of such a huge building near the City Hall. This lead has been followed by the City Club aud the Bar Association. The protest may not be sufficient to prevent the adoption of the proposed site; but if the report of the commission is to be accepted by the Board of Estimate it must be done quickly. The opposi¬ tion is growing, and if it is allowed to keep oh growing it wil! soon become irresistible. This is tlie forty-second anniversary of tlic Record and Guide. ASSUREDLY many grave objections can be urged against the occupation of THE WHOLE NORTHERLY END of City Hall Park, as some propose, for the new Court House. In the lirst place, the new building would make the City Hail look insignificant, aud would diminish the size of one of the most useful little parks in Manhattan. Prom the point of view of architectural propriety, we are inclined to accept Mr. Ernest Plagg's opinion, that if the Park has to be appro¬ priated it would be better to leave the Court House as it is and erect two skyscrapers on the two corners of the north end of the Park. This would have the advantage of not in any way injuring the architectural eifect of the City Hall; and it would, also, have the advantage of economy. The courts would not lose the service of the existing Court House and would not be obliged to rent courtrooms during the several years required for the erection of the new structure. Inasmuch as the whole project has been adopted chiefly on the grounds of economy, the saving of some additioual mil¬ lions of dollars should appeal to the Board of Estimate. Better still, however, w-ould be the plan of buying the prop¬ erty between the Hall of Records and Broadway, and of erecting a building on that site, as high as Is necessary for the accommodation of all the courts. This site has never been considered large enough in the past, because the idea was to erect a court house thereon similar in size and design to the Hall of Records. But if the city is obliged to econo¬ mize upon the site, it is certainly better to take the economy out in the erection of a skyscraper as high as necessary, as the new municipal office building. Considering the saving which would result from the survival of the existing Court House, this plan would not be much more expensive than the one adopted by the commission; and it would have the great advantage, of protecting the City Hall and its Park from increasing insignificance- The housing of the county law courts in a skyscraper may be a shock to the conven¬ tional idea of a court house, but there is no reason why the legal decisions which issue from a skyscraper may not be as sound as the legal decisions which are promulgated from beneath a columned portico. The plain fact is that the county of New York, such as it is, IS NOT RICH' ENOUGH to erect a low building on land which costs $250 a square foot and over. AN ARTICLE on "High Prices and the Cost of Living" in a recent number of the Outlook by Mr. Prank Greene gives a great deal of valuable information about this important matter in a very brief space- He shows that the advance in prices since 1896 in farm products has varied from 50 per cent- in the case of live sheep to 216 per cent, jn the case of eggs, 202 per cent, in the case of bacon, and 201 per cent, in the case of lard. Manufactured goods on the other hand, have increased on the average about fifty per cent, in price, while certain articles of considerable domestic and industrial importance, such as coffee, tea, sugar, raw silk, nails, steel beams and tin plates have all diminished in price. Mr. Greene's short analysis of the cause of the in¬ creases in price is as useful as his facts. His opinion is that demand and supply have more to do with high prices than any financial cause, such as the increased gold supply or bank circulation. The fundamental reason for the most burdensome menaces in prices is the fact that the" great cheapening processes witnessed from 1S70 to 1900 as a result of the opening of the West have culminated, and that is an apparent vacuum to be filled either by tbe opening of new lands or by the re-entry of the farms of the East into the fleld of production. He also attributes a great deal of importance to the high rates of municipal taxation, and the