Real estate record and builders' guide (v.70no.1790(July 5 1902)-no.1815(Dec. 27 1902))

(New York,  F. W. Dodge Corp.  )



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  v. 70, no. 1791: Page 38  



July li, f()02.

ditions have been favoring a greater moderation in real estate
transactions. Prices of everything except money have been
so high that profitable dealing on a sound basis was becoming
increasingly difficult, and if the activity and rising prices con¬
tinued it could mean only inflation and a subsequent collapse.
But if moderation is shown, there is no reason why the increases
in values characteristic of the past twenty months should not
be maintained. The present situation, although it has manifest
weaknesses is in the main sound, and is based upon excellent
business reasons.

So far as comparative activity goes the building records have
varied in precisely the opposite direction from the real estate
records.    Until May 1st the number of plans filed and their es¬
timated cost were almost uniformly smaller
than during the corresponding weeks of 1901;
Building       and the total decrease amounted at one time
Characteristics to  more  than  one-half of the  figures  of the
in 1902.        previous  year.    Since May  1st,  however, the
figures for 1902 have compared very favorably
with those for 1901.   The increases have been
large and continuous, and have been due to certain interesting
and very definite causes, which will be specified later.    Up to
July 1st, 1901, there were plans filed for 1,881 buildings in Man-
" hattan and the Bronx, against 958 for the corresponding period
in 1902.    In the former year these 1,881   buildings   were   esti¬
mated to cost 170.124,000, while in 1902 the 958 buildings were
'to cost $52,482,000.    So far as the number of buildings goes the
decrease is just about 50 per cent; in estimated cost it amounts
only to 25 per cent.   The consequence Is that the average cost of
each building erected in Manhattan and the Bronx is ?54,S00 in
1902, compared to $37,300 in 1901.    If the totals for Manhattan
alone are included in the calculation it will be found that the
average cost of each building erected has increased from $57,-
900 to $98,400.   The comparative lethargy of the first four months
■" as against the activity of the last two has been due   in   large
meastu-e to the action of the tenement-house law.    The number
of plans filed for tenements and flats before the passage of the
new law was enormous, and it was succeeded by a period of rela¬
tive inactivity.    The year 1902. on the other hand, began with
a very moderate amount of tenement house building, which,
however, as will be seen from figures published elsewhere, in¬
creased steadily until now it has reached very respectable pro¬
portions.   Hence during May and June the building figures for
the present year have been very large, and if the present activity
continues tbe year 1902 will be characterized by the investment
of an amount of money in building operations surpassed only
twice in the previous history of the city.   We surmise, however,
that during the second half of the year there will be a tendency
to dullness, from which the building market will not recover
until the effect of the Subway begins to be felt.

In reviewing the figures for the first quarter of 1902 the Rec¬
ord and Guide pointed out the extraordinary fact that business
buildings and apartment hotels accounted for three-fifths of the
money now being invested in new buildings in
Business        Manhattan.    This fact continues   to   be   true
Buildings       during the whole half year.    Out of  the   501
and            buildings for which plans were filed in Man-

Apartment hattan up to July 1st, 140 were either business
Hotels. buildings or apartment hotels; and these 146
houses were estimated to cost $32,945,000. As
the estimated cost of all the buildings for which plans were
' filed in Manhattan was a little less than $49,000,000, it will be
seen that these two kinds of buildings comprehend more than
three-fifths of the money called for by the plans of the present
year on Manhattan Island; and the filings for these two kinds
of buildings are largely in excess of the large figures of last
year. Thus, during the first half of 1901, plans were filed for 9
office buildings to cost $4,045,000; during the same period of
1902 plans were filed for 18 office buildings to cost $6,165,000.
During the first half of 1901 plans were filed for 50 lofts, and
factories to cost $5,240,000, the first six months of 1902 can show
plans for 92 lofts and factories to cost $12,105,000. Taking busi¬
ness buildings of all kinds together the figures are 59 to cost
$9,285,000 in 1901, against 112 to cost $18,415 in 1902, The amount
of money called for by business buildings in the first half of
1902 is just a little less than 40 per cent of all the money repre¬
sented by the plans; in 1901 the amount of money called for by
business buildings was only about 13 per cent of the totals which
the plans aggregated. These figures tell plainly and expressively
the story of the business expansion in Manhattan. Never be¬
fore has there been such an insistent demand for larger business
accommodations of all kinds; and it is this demand, which, as
the Record and Guide has previously pointed out, has been the

most wholesome and potent infiuence in the present real estate
situation. In apartment hotels also 1902 is surpassing the large
totals of 1901. During the first half of that year plans were filed
for 23 of those buildings to be erected at an estimated cost of
$5,760,000, and during the corresponding period of 1902 the num¬
ber increased to 31 and the estimated cost to $14,260,000. Thus
within two years a class of buildings that was comparatively
rare in New York has suddenly jumped into popularity, with the
result that more money is being spent upon this one class of
structures in Manhattan than is being spent for all classes of
buildings in the Boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx, It is
noticeable that these hotels are being continually distributed
over wider areas. All but 9 out of 23 of them in 1901 were situ¬
ated between 34th and 59th streets, whereas in 1902 17 out of 31
were situated north of 59th street or south of 34th. Still the fav¬
orite region for these hotels remains the central districts of

Effects of the Tenement House Law.

The course of building operations during the first six months
of the present year affords a very complete Indication as to the

effect of the new tenement house law. Last spring a well-known
architect ventured in the columns of the Rec¬
ord and Guide a twofold prophecy concerning
the results of this law. As regards to Man-
In the Bronx, battan he believed that conditions would soon
adapt themselves to the provisions of the new
law; but he thought that in the other Bor¬
oughs the law would co-operate with im¬
proved transit conditions to substitute one and two family
dwellings for the traditional tenement. The improvel transit
conditions have not yet come Into effect; yet the prophecy has
been partly verified. The new law has discouraged tenement-
house building in the Bronx much more than it has discouraged
it in Manhattan. During recent years, from $4,000,000 to $5,000,-
000 have annually been spent in the Bronx on tenements, while
during the first six months of 1902 the records of the Building
Department show plans filed for only 40 of these buildings to be
erected at an estimated cost of $917,000, But as we pointed out
recently the decrease in the building of tenement houses has been
accompanied by a large increase in the erection of frame dwellings,
plans for which are being filed at almost twice the prevalent rate
during recent years. The change is a desirable one, provided
that it can be accomplished without any increase of rents, be¬
cause distribution of population in the outer districts of a city
is to be preferred both in the interest of real estate and in that
of hygiene to its concentration; and it may be expected that this
tendency to distrubution will be enormously augmented during
the next few years. It should be added that a very large pro¬
portion of the plans for tenement houses now being filed in the
Bronx call for three-story buildings. Out of the 40 tenements
which are being erected 16 are three stories high, 5 are four
stories high, 17 will measure five stories, and only two sis
stories. The three-story houses are, of course, a type much
more closely adapted to the conditions of the outskirts of a city,
and tend to be less objectionable from a hygienic point of view.

The "new-law" tenement-house is now   an   established   type
with characteristics as definite as the old dumbbell, 25-foot build¬
ing.   Plans have already been filed at the Building Department
for 131 Manhattan tenements to be erected at
an estlmatedcost of $8,530,000; andif thefigures
of the Tenement House Department were used
In Manhattan,   instead, the totals would be about 20 per cent
larger, indicating plainly that the rapid rate
at which plans are being filed will in all prob¬
ability be continued.    Of course very few of
these new tenements have come upon the market as yet, and
when they do their higher price will probably restrict the de¬
mand for them.   Still they can be made to yield almost If not
quite as good a return as the houses formerly built on a single
lot.   Out of 127 buildings for which plans were filed this year the
frontages of only 7 are 25 feet or less, and of these more than
half are either corners or shallow lots.   Of the remainder some
10 possess frontages between 35 and 40 feet, and there are 3
frontages of more than 50 feet    All the rest measure between
40 and 50 feet on the street, the majority of them nearer 40 than
50,   As to their distributions only 25 are situated north of 14th
street.   The gr^t majority of tenements continue to be built on
the lower East Side.   That is the section in which there are prac¬
tically no vacancies, and a constant and insatiable demand for
new accommoditlon. Furthermore, the Ghetto Is gradually press¬
ing further and further northward,   Jews have dispossessed the
Irish from their chosen quarter east of the Bowery, and now they
  v. 70, no. 1791: Page 38