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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 86, no. 2211: July 30, 1910

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July 30, 1910 RECORD AND GUIDE r03 ^ ESTiVBIiSHm-^MAPf^H2l*V»'1868. itafrjED P R^^LEsTAlt.BuiLOlKG T^Rja^rTECTURE.KoUSDfOlDDE«H^T(0c4 Bi/sufess jutoThemes op GEiiEi^l I^fTE^^f si., PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE BIGHT DOLLARS Communications should t>0 addressed tSi C, W. SWEET Published EVery Satardag By THE KECORD AND GTJIDE CO. Fresident. CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGES Vice-Pres. & GeDl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to IG Baat 24tli Street, New York City {Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) '' "Entered at the Post Office at New York, N. Y., us sccond-elass matter." Copyrighted. IfllO, Ijy The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXVl. JULY 30, 1910. No. 2211 THERE has been no lack of seasonable dullness in the real estate market during the past few weeks; but the number of transactions, few as they are, have included several of considerable importance. In one case a retailer now in 23d s_treet leased a corner in the most expensive part of Fifth avenue, which indicates that even at prevail¬ ing prices and during dull times business men can be found who can afford to secure locatious ou the avenue. On the other hand, two arrangements have recently been made by picture dealers for gallery sites on Madison avenue near 42d street, and these announcements show very plainly that only the very wealthiest of the art and furniture dealers can afford to compete for Fifth avenue sites. They always require a large amount of space in which to display their wares; and rluring several months of the year their sales are reduced to almost nothing at all, which makes a heavy rent peculiarly burdensome. They naturally seek, conse¬ quently, locations which are good but which are not ex¬ cessively expensive. Madison avenue between 39th and 4Sth streets seems excellently adapted to their purpose, and they may be expected hereafter to gather in that vicinity in in¬ creasing numbers. Not only are the picture dealers being crowded off Fifth avenue by the high prices, but the old furniture dealers are being puslied out of lower Fourth avenue, while lower Fifth avenue is becoming less eligible for their business. From all these different sources they are likely to converge upon Madisou avenue, north of 39th street—the only difficulty being that there is not very much space for them thereabouts. Eventually, they will spread all the way up Madison avenue to 5 9th street, but their prog¬ ress north of 4Sth street will be slow, because of the nature of the existing improvements on that part of Madison avenue. ANOTHER interesting development which has gathered headway recently has been the success of Trinity Church in finding business purchasers and tenants for its property in the Greenwich district. It looks as if the long- heralded but long delayed improvement of this section for business purposes had really begun; and there is every rea¬ son why it should begin, because whatever its disadvantages it is assuredly the cheapest property in Manhattan available for business. It becomes, consequently, peculiarly desirable for liues of trade which need locations in Manhattan but cannot afford high rents. Business men who have to satis¬ fy such a need will do well to find permanent locations in the Greenwich section during the next few years, because in the course of a comparatively short time prices will ad¬ vance very considerably. The prolongation of Seventh ave¬ nue aud the widening of Varick street will necessarily in¬ crease both values and rents, if only because property near the improvement will be assessed for its cost. After the district is opened up in this way it will become practically as convenient for many business purposes as is the section on either side of Seventh avenue, north of 14th street; and values will approxiraate the same level. THE most interesting single announcement, however, which has heen made recently was that of the project for a commercial hotel -at Greenwich, Cedar and Liberty streets. The plans of the promoters were said to include a number of new conveniences, intended specially for business men, which have already been' successfully tried in London. As it turned out, the project consisted merely of gossip, but any such enterprise would he attended with a good deal of risk. The location selected is inconvenient to the two rail¬ road stations hy which the great majority of business men wiil l_eave and reach Manhattan, viz., the stations of the Pennsylvania and of the New York Central Companies. The streets upon which the new hotel will be situated are absolutely dark and dead at night, and, if the business man wants to combine some amusement with his more serious occupations, he will have no better means of reaching 42d street and Broadway than by the Sixth avenue elevated road. Finally, the location is convenient to only a small portion of Manhattan's business district. It will not appeal to a man who comes to New York either to buy or sell goods, because the majority of people with whom he will wish to trade are situated north of Canal street, and before long they will be situated north of Bleecker street. For all these reasons it looks as if the proprietors of a new commercial hotel in this neighborhood might find it difficult to keep ail of their four hundred rooms occupied. Their chance of so doing would be much better in case tbe proposed Seventh avenue Subway were buiit. Such a tunnel would bring the proposed location within seven minutes of Long Acre Square, and would enable the sojourner in the hotel to reach a far larger range of business and other engagements. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Astor House is usually well occupied and has remained fairly popular until the present day. It must also be remembered that one consequence of the construction of the Broadway-Lexing¬ ton avenue Subway may be the destruction of this time- honored hostelry. If it does go, there should be room for a modern hotel to take its place. THE owners of real estate in the outlying boroughs should read carefully an article which recently appeared in the "Commercial and Financial Chronicle," discussing the construction of Subways and elevated roads by means of assessment bonds. The conclusion reached by the article is that in the majority of cases Suhways and elevated roads which are constructed in this manner, will probably eat up and more than eat up any benefit which the property- owner will derive from the construction of the road. The estimate is that it would cost at least $150 a lot for the construction of the line, probably as much more for its equipment, and possibly as much more for the deficiency from operation. The estimate does not look very sound to the Record and Guide, for we believe that any rapid tran¬ sit road, built within the limits of New York City,, the cost of which was charged off, could be operated profitably by a private compaiiy. But making allowance for any errors in the calculations of the "Chronicle" and any exaggera¬ tions in its conclusions, it certainly draws up a strong in¬ dictment against this method of financing rapid transit con¬ struction. The profit accruing to the. property-owner from rapid transit construction would, of course, become less in proportion as his property was distant from the central bor¬ ough; and it is only in the case of remotely situated sec¬ tions that assessment bonds would be necessary. The re¬ sult would be, consequently, the distribution of any benefit over a much larger area^ and a comparatively small in¬ crease in value for any one owner. Whether or not, as the "Chronicle" claims, there would be nothing left for the property owner after his assessments were paid, there would certainly be very little; and we imagine that after one or two experiments in rapid transit construction on this method every further attempt to apply it would meet with vigorous resistance from the local property-owners. They will prefer to keep their property and wait for rapid transit until rapid transit can be made to pay for itself. The construction of rapid transit lines by means of assessment bonds is not in their interest, as they will soon learn. It is in the in¬ terest of the better distribution of the population of the city, because it will enable comparatively poor people to reach and take up their residence on much cheaper prop¬ erty than they could otherwise afford. The city stands to gain a great deal by this method of financing rapid transit construction, because it diminishes in perpetuity the fixed charges incurred by the passenger routes; but the property- owner stands to lose much more than he thinks; and as soon as he finds how much he stands to lose he will cease to urge the laying out of routes to be financed in this way upon the Public Service Commission.