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Real estate record and builders' guide: [v. 89, no. 2298]: March 30, 1912

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_049_00000837

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n.^ MARCH 30, 1912 AN IDEAL SEMI-SUBURBAN DEVELOPMENT. The Girard Estate in Philadelphia Has Succeeded In Supplying the Popular Demand for Private Dwellings With All the Conveniences of Apartments. NEAV tracts of suburban land are be¬ ing improA'ed in growing numbers by development companies. In conimon with Gity apartment Iiouse builders, suburban development companies endeavor to offer better and more convenient honies with healthful and attractive surroundings. Many of the suburban developments about New York have attained a notable degree of perfection, but it has remained for the Girard Estale in Philadelphia to produce ■within the city limits a suburban colony, ideal from the standpoint of ■comfort and yet not too expensive for people in mod¬ erate circumstances. The Girard Eslate enjoys the distinc¬ tion of being the largest single owner of real eslale in Philadelphia, Its founder, Stephen Girard, like the first John Jacob Astor, 'was a man of faith in real estate as an investment. In his time Philadel¬ phia was a small city, yet he saw the possibilities of growth, and acquired great traicts of land nol only in the heart of the city but miles away from the center of activity. Before his death he established of the streets and to look after the re¬ moval of waste and the general order and cleanliness of those portions of the prop¬ erty usually left to the care of the occu¬ pant or the municipal authorities. The most striking feature that one notices on enlering the settlement is its semi-suburban 'character—broad streets, smooth and well-kept grass plots border¬ ing the sidewalks, double rows of shade trees, porches and side yari3s and a diver¬ sified exterior design avhich effectually dispels the idea of a "row" of houses. An¬ other significant thing is the absence of any ash or garbage cans and the lack ol^ any evidence of ashes or house sweepings in the streel. An ashman is unknown in the district. As heat, light and hot water are all furnished to the tenants from a central plant, and as cooking is done hy means of gas ranges, there is no necessity for any fires within the houses. This feature of the settlement is most important as it effectually removes the greatest argu¬ ments against private house living, namely, the labor and expense of running from the disp-osal of waste 'paper and sweepings when these are placed on the sidewalk lo await removal by the City contractor, each house is furnished with a large canvas bag in which all such refuse may be placed, and this receptacle is re¬ moved once every week by an employee of the owner. This scheme prevents any of the refuse escaping to the street and has a marked effect on the appearance and ■cleanliness of the neighborhood. The side yards -between the houses are open to the street and permit of all pac^kage deliveries being made at the kitchen doors. The property is worth, with the street improve¬ ment made, about $1,0110 for a 2,5 foot lot and the houses range in cost from .'^3,000 to .i!-5,oOO each. The estate sets aside a sinking fund of one-half of 1 per cent, of the building 'Cost, which it is estimated ■will in the long run cover the expense of repairs. The most important feature of the oper¬ ation, however, is the plan by which heat, .electric light and hot water for domestic purposes are furnished lo the tenant, who ^_l l^^^-A ■.-■ - 1 j n^i^^l ^SS^^y^x^s ^^^^^a ^^m Hi^l ^^^'^WBBm '^^^^^^mB^^ ^^^^^^S^^H wBm^^^^ J^K ■ ''"^^^^^sJl ^3 "■■liq^^^H - 1 -___:—;^,^r^H^BflM ^^^^^^,,,^1:^;^;^^'*" 9^^ A TYPICAL STREET IN SOUTH PHILADELPHIA, the estate and, 'having no direct heirs, placed it to a certain extent under the jurisdiction of the city. Among other un¬ usual provisions of his will was the stipu¬ lation that none of the property should ever be sold. Since his death the city has grown in ail directions and the value of his original holdings has enormously in¬ creased. Among other lands Whi-ch he bought was a LrSyCt of some flve hundred acres lying to the south of the old ■city of Philadel¬ phia and not far from the League Island Navy Yard. On a part of this property he built a summer home, which still exists, and the entire block surrounding it has been planted with trees and shrub¬ bery and set aside as a public park. Until recently the tract was used only for farm purposes and was considered of lit¬ tle value. About two years ago, the city having by this time 'grown out to the northern boundary of the farm, the trus¬ tees decided to improve the tract and to carry out the development along new and untried lines. The result has been the erection of a group 'Of dwellings, uniciue In character and appointments, meeting the modern requirements of city housing and at the same time preserving the valued characteristics of the private home, to accomplish this it was found necessary not only lo build the houses according to very modern plans but also to undertake the care incident to a proper maintenance furnaces and the dirt attendant upon their operation. The houses are two and three stories in ■height and are built in pairs, each side of a double house ■being occupied by one tenant. Several types of architecture have been employed and the majority of the houses are very artistic in design. A number are of the bungalow type, others have gambrel roofs and slill others show Moorish and Italian characteristics. Some are of brick, some of stone, and others are faced wilh concrete, 'No two pairs of similar architecture adjoin, a feature which adds greatly to the general appear¬ ance of the streets. Each pair of dwell¬ ings has a frontage of either thirty-two or thirty-six feet, and between the pairs is a yard about twelve feet wide. There are grass plots in front of the porches and fair-sized yards in the rear of the build¬ ings. The houses are very well built and, while not large, are of sufficient size to accommodate 'Comfortably the average fam¬ ily. They have from seven lo eight rooms each, besides a bath and laundry. The ■cellars are large, dry and clean, and hav¬ ing no furnaces or hot water heaters to take up space, -can be used to good ad¬ vantage for storage or amusement pur¬ poses. Many -of the tenants have fitted up their cellars with billiard tables and shuffle boards. To avoid the dirt and disorder arising helps himself by turning a valve or pres¬ sing a button. The idea of healing more than one building from a single plant is not entirely new. In our own city many of the private houses on Madison avenue and elsewhere are heated by steam taken from pipes in the street. The New York Steam Company, a private corporation, supplies the steam at a fixed price per annum. In several cases a row of apart¬ ment houses has been built by one owner and a single heating plant supplies the buildings. In the Eastern Parkway sec¬ tion of Bi'ooklyn a number of owners in one small area have co-operated to heat their houses from a central plant, but nowhere in New York has this plan been attempted by developers as an initial and essential part of a suburban residential operation. The plan of the Girard Estate is not a co-operative scheme supported by a few owners who may at any time with¬ draw their support, but a permanent ar¬ rangement, logically conceived and care¬ fully operated, lo furnish to a large num¬ ber of dwellings a maximum efficiency pf service at a minimum cost. The operation has met with marked success. The estate at present has 2S5 houses, covering an area of about 160 acres, and of this number only eleven are unoccupied. This spring another block of fifty-four dwellings will be erected and it is eventually expected to have in the