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Real estate record and builders' guide: [v. 91, no. 2351]: April 5, 1913

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BUILDERS AND NEW YORK, APRIL 5, 1913 iUIKililiiiliiiii^'liil^^ THE RAILROAD GRAB OF HEIGHTS FRONTAGE | I An Enormous Freight Yard to Fringe Riverside Drive—Realty Interests Pro¬ testing, Fearing the Destruction of Values—^An Alternative Plan Proposed. U^lDER the terms of the convention that has been arranged between a committee of the Board ol Estimate and the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company an enormous freight yard will be built to extend from 13/th street northward to 153d, and from the present right-of-way westward to the river. Already there is a storage yard in the locality, but it has only a traction of the dimensions of the terminal which the committee agrees the railroad com¬ pany may build there. Nearly a mile in length and with a width sufficient for forty tracks, all un¬ covered and filled with shrieking locomo¬ tives and rumbling, creaking and bump¬ ing cars, emitting siiwke, gas.fis and smells, this freight yard will not only interpose itself between the residents of Riverside Drive and their view of the river, but it will attract to the place teamsters and freight handlers in large numbers. In the opinion of real estate owners of Washington Heights there is no uncertainty about what the conse¬ quence will be to adjacent property in¬ terests. Taxpayers Wronged. One million two hundred thousand dollars the property owners of Wash¬ ington Heights paid for the extension of Riverside Drive northward from Claremont, The assessment ran into thousands of dollars in individual cases, but the people willingly paid the price because of the pledge the city was giv¬ ing, to forever hold and protect the grand parkway for public use. Large investments of capital have been made for real estate improvements of a high character under the belief that both the scenic outlook and the refinements of the neighborhood would be sacredly guarded. Mass meetings of realty in- ■ terests have been held during the pres¬ ent week at which protests were voiced and committees appointed to see what can be done. As an instance of an attempted betray¬ al of the people in the negotiations with the railroad company the West End As¬ sociation refers to the bill now pending in the Legislature to destroy the trus¬ teeship for the lands under water acquir¬ ed in 1894 for the extension of Riverside Drive, in order that those lands may be commercialized and given in part to the New York Central Railroad Company, The subject of the West Side terminal improvements proposed by the commit¬ tee of the Board of Estimate in the final report just made is a very large one and. except for a brief explanation of the general purport of the report, the present narrative will be confined to one particular phase of the improve¬ ments which the committee will ask the people to approve on next Tuesday at the public hearing at the City Hall which the Board of Estimate will then give. For three years the city has been con¬ sidering plans for the abolition of "Death avenue" and the necessary re¬ organization of the harbor facilities in¬ tertwined with that proposition. This is the problem: H you take the railroad tracks ofif the surface of the West Side avenues, where will you place them? Tomkins' Plan Rejected. Four plans were proposed, one by the Dock Commissioner, Hon, Calvin Tomkins, one by the New York Cen¬ tral, a third by the Engineering Ad¬ visory Committee of the Board of Esti¬ mate, and the fourth by the Consulting Engineer of the Borough of the Bronx. The plan of the Dock Commissioner is rejected by the committee for the stated reason that it is predicated upon the assumption that all the Jersey roads will consent to bring all their freight by car-float to the 30th street float- bridges and then lead it down by rail over the tracks of a marginal railway to the southern part of Manhattan Island. This the committee believes to be uneconomical, impracticable and impossible of realization. The Jersey roads, one and all, unequivocally de¬ cline to join in the operation of an elevated terminal railway. Other Plans Laid Aside. The reasons urged against the plan of the Dock Commissioner apply with equal force against the plan first sub¬ mitted by the New York Central. The plan for unit water terminals submitted by the Engineering Advisory Commit¬ tee is laid aside because the committee does not consider that the city should take a definite position at the present time in regard to the matter of unit water terminals, as proposed in this plan. While the committee considers the plan of the Consulting Engineer of the Borough of the Bronx as the most promising of the three plans for a mar¬ ginal railroad on or above the surface, two serious objections have been urged against it. Every pound of freight car¬ ried to and from the waterfront would have to be lifted over the elevated road, so to speak, and moreover the cost of the improvement would be prohibitive. President Miller's Plan Approved. The committee has found, however, that it can approve a plan submitted by the President of the Borough of the Bronx for a portion of the region north of 30th street and it makes acknowledg¬ ment of the value of the suggestion for this district. Since the submission of the plans in¬ dicated above the Legislature passed a law (Chapter 777 of the Laws of 1911) providing that the New York Central might prepare and file with the city plans for the development of its system from the city line southward, to include the elimination of surface operation south of 59th street, and that the city might prepare counter plans; and the act further provides that the Board of Estimate and the railroad company may come to an agreement upon the basis of either set of plans or a com¬ promise. Pursuant to the statute, the New York Central prepared elaborate plans for the expansion of its system to a six-track trunk line from the city line southward to 72d street, and for the elimination of surface operation south of 59th street. The Board of Estimate, on its part, ap¬ pointed a committee, which has been ne¬ gotiating with the railroad company with the following objects in view: (.1) The discontinuance of the occupa¬ tion of public streets by the railroad tracks at grade. (2) Such municipal improvements as can be effected as part of or incident to the proposed change of location or grade for the railroad tracks. (.3) Enlarged and improved railroad facilities for the shippers of the city. Points in the Agreement. Having all these objects in view the committee found it necessary and desir¬ able to suggest various changes in the railroad company's plans, and certain agreements have been reached, which are the subject of the final report upon which a hearing will be held next Tuesday, The railroad company is now making new plans in accordance with the agreement. The starting point for the improve¬ ments is necessarily at Spuyten Duyvil, where the railroad crosses the ship canal by a bridge only six feet above high wa¬ ter. The first thing the committee sug¬ gested was to raise this bridge up to 24 feet above high-water mark, and this in¬ troduced a long chain of other improve¬ ments. It has been decided to deflect the tracks at Inwood Hill, to the east, in¬ land under the brow of the hill, cover them over and tunnel to some extent without changing the contour of the hill except at one point. A big freight yard will be established immediately south of Dyckman street. Part of the land need¬ ed will be leased from the city f.,r a ten- year term. Dyckman street will be car¬ ried over the tracks on a higher grade, and the higher grade will extend practi¬ cally nearly all the way back to Broad¬ way. Through Fort Washington Park, the plans of the railroad company show a four-track main line, instead of the pres¬ ent two tracks, and these are to be car¬ ried in a tunnel, as originally suggested by Reginald Pelham Bolton, C. E., on behalf of the citizens, and later by an advisory subcommittee consisting of .\r-