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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 86, no. 2209: July 16, 1910

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July i6, 1910 RECORD AND GUIDE 105 # Biisnfess Alto Themes OF Gtito^Ut^TERf SI., PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be aflflreSBefl t© C, W. SWEET Tuhlished EVerg Jatardap By THE RECORD AND GTJIDE CO, President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vloe-Pres. fi Genl. Mgr.. H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to IG East 34tli Street, New York City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) neSB. Why should not the oity, whenever a church site is sold, appropriate at least a part ol; the profit which the church community has received over the original cost of the laaia and building? Just how large a part should be ap¬ propriated cannot be stated offhand, but probably the city could levy a tax on one-half of such increase without im¬ pairing the motive which tbese communities now have for selling an, inconvenient site and erecting a new building in some more convenient location. But if this proposal is ever seriously urged, we may be sure that the wrath of God will be called down upon the head of its impious advocate. ••Entered at llic Post Office at New York, ^'- ''-■ "^ sccoJid-clnss matter." Copyrighted, 1910, by Tbe Record fi .Guide Co.____________ Vol. LXXXVL JULY 16, 1910. No. 2209 A CORRESPONDENT malces the suggestion that the city should build a court house on the site of the old Astor House by taking all the property as far west as the Evening Post Building in Vesey street, the suggestion bemg based, of course, on the assumption that most of this prop¬ erty will have to be condemned for the henefit of the Broad¬ way Subway, which cuts under this corner. This suggestion has already been made by the Record and Guide, and is well worth careful consideration. The assessment for subway purposes which the city will be obliged to condemn is not equivalent to the whole value of the property, as the sales of the Centre street parcels prove; but it is equivalent to a very large part thereof; and by using tlie surface as a site for a county court house. New York would obtain a com¬ paratively inexpensive location—inexpensive, that is, com¬ pared to its great convenience. Upon this site a skyscraper could be erected the upper floors of which would have the guarantee of good light on two sides and half of a third side. The expense would be less than that of the Chambers street location. Of course, there would be one difficulty. A 30-stovy sliyscraper would need room below the surface for its power plant; and it might be difficult to arrange for such a plant below the level of the subway. But this diffi¬ culty should not be beyond solution hy engiaieering skill, particularly in view of the fact that the subway would not occupy the whole of the site. Before any decision is reached about the court house, this possible alternative should be fully weighed by the Commission. OUT of the current agitation over the taxation of church property, one proposal has been made which is worth careful consideration. Even if a church is entitled to ex¬ emption from taxation during the use of the land and build¬ ing for purposes of religious instruction, such exemption should not be continued when the members of the church sell their property at a profit and move to a new site. What¬ ever may be the right of a private owner who pays his taxes to the unearned increment on the value of bis land, a prop¬ erty owner who pays no taxes, partly on the excuse that he gets no income, should not be allowed to reap an indirect increase by appropriating the whole of the increased value of the land. His whole claim to exemption rests on the con¬ dition that the property is devoted to an economically un¬ profitable use; and there is no reason w^hy the encourage¬ ment which the city extends to religious edification should go so far as to allow these religious associations to make large indirect profits out of their exemption from taxation. Of late years a number of conspicuous cases have occurred in which church communities have benefited enormously from the business growth of the neighborhood in which their building was situated. The Broadway Tabernacle, which moved from 34th street and Broadway to 57th street and Broadway, is a case in point. Other similar cases are St. Philip's Church in West 2 5th street, the church on the corner of 22d street and Fourth avenue, and now All Souls Church at 20th street and Fourth avenue is preparing to sell at a price which will represent a huge profit on the cost of its land and building. Moreover, it should he remem¬ bered that this process is o^ly beginning. During the next thirty years many parts fl Manhattan which have ,been or are still residential will cease to be so; and the sites now occupied by churches will become both inconvenient for such a purpose and very much more valuable for busi- THE more the latest proposals of the management of the Interborougb Company are considered the more one is obliged to marvel at the stupid and perverse inability of the directors of that corporation to base their policy on an understanding of tbe real conditions wbich must be satisfied in obtaining privileges for rapid transit extensions. They have made one egregious mistake after another. Their first blunder was in compromising the credit of the luterborough Company by merging with the Metropolitan Street Railway Co., and this blunder was the most fatal of all, because it has tied the hands of the corporation ever since and made it dependent for funds on one firm of hankers. Their failure Lo bid under the proposals of the old Rapid Transit Com¬ mission may have beeu justified; but, in any event, it was rendered inevitable by the losses which the company had suffered through its merger with the surface roads. A year later the corporation expended large sums of money in ad¬ vertising to the public a set oE proposals for rapid transit extensions which anybody with sense could have foreseen would be as wholly unacceptable to public opinion as they ■were to the Public Service Commission. Since then one proposition after another has been submitted to the Com¬ mission; and each succeeding proposition has been less ac¬ ceptable than the last. In considering the understanding of the situation, established hy these successive proposals, it must be remembered that they were unacceptable mot merely in a few details, but were based on such radical mis¬ calculations that their publication was in the nature of a joke. Finally, the management adds a crowning blunder to tbe series by asking the city to abandon In its favor a route upon which three years' work has been spent, for which the city has a prospective bidder, and to which the Public Service Commission is irretrievably committed, and which is almost ready for submission to public competition. That this particular route will involve the waste of a good deal of money in its construction is perfectly true, but if the directors of the company had not been utterly blind they would have understood that its construction could he pre¬ vented, if at all, only by making some extremely favorable proposal to the city- Instead of which, they complacently ask New York to abandon an apparently popular plan, supply all the money for luterborough subway extensions, guaran¬ tee the company against any loss from operation, and then be content with half the profits, the profits being based exclusively upon the earnings of the extensions. And yet people talk about the enterprise, the foresight and the good sense displayed by the management of public service corpo¬ rations. THE Record and Guide has from the very beginning of this unfortunate controversy believed that the best interests of the city would be served by reaching an agree¬ ment with the Interborougb Company, and it has regarded the Broadway-Lexington avenue route as a mistake, because it was planned as an independent competitive line instead of one which might have become complementary to the ex¬ isting subway. But unreasonable as the policy of the Public Service Commission has been in some respects, it has heen much more reasonable than the policy of the luterborough Company. It looks now as if there was nothing to do but to throw the luterborough Company overboard and begin sys¬ tematically to develop an independent system. There Is nothing to be done with a compauy which seeks so persist¬ ently to make proflts out of quarrels, and which so completely ' misunderstands the terms 00 which the city is prepared to grant additional subway privileges. Within a few weeks the Broadway-Lexington avenue route will be submitted to pub¬ lic competition. If a bidder can be obtained ou acceptable terms, both for the construction aud operation of this sub¬ way, the way will thenceforth be clear. The city should thereafter do its best to develop this route into a compre¬ hensive sysera. It can go ahead with the Seventh avenue