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Astors Discard Business Policy Nearly as Old as Nation -.- < THE world seems to be all topsy? turvy these days. The recognized order of things have given way to opposite conditions. Old Mother Earth is seemingly standing on her head. Cus? toms, thought and traditions nearly as old as the nation have been -ihattered almost over night with startling conse? quences. It would have been consummate pre? sumption previous to the war to have suggested to the Astor family the sale of capital property. It would have been a suggestion contrary to a princi? ple laid down by the first Astor and adhered to religiously ever since by his family. Men in every corner of the civilized world have heard of the policy of the Astors and have com? mented upon it, both favorably and unfavorably. The thought of an Astor parting with a valuable income paying property was absurd. Hut it has come to pass that the principle on which Astor fortunes were built is not workable apparently in these remarkable days, and Astors art now doing just what the world .ex? pected this family of well known land? lords would never do. Finest Properties Going They are selling property, and wha is more, the most treasured of all theii holdings. Since the first of the yea Vincent Astor, head of the America] branch of the Astor family, and hi, cousin, Captain John Jacob Astor, sot of Raron Astor and apparently head o the English branch, have sold four o the finest parcela of real estate to b found on Manhattan Island. The young ! men have disposed of $4,950,000 worth j of office property In the financial dis- ! I trict, and & block front in the "White I Light" section valued at close to $4,- ' : 000,000. The four properties are said to have sold for $9,950,000 in cash and the yearly income from them amounted to a fortune in itself, one of the par? cels alone having returned to the owner $320,000 a year in rentals. New Yorkers are asking the reason for this. Folks in other parts of the world are apparently asking the same question, because the news that the Astors have broken their century old practice of refusing to sell has been sent broadcast, and newspapers from far distant parts of the world carry ! the message of the great turn-about of i this well known family of landlords. No information is to be had of the Astor interests as to why they are selling property which pays so well and which they have held so long. Nicholas Biddle, who is tho manager of the business affairs of the estate of which Vincent Astor is head, said that the sales by Mr. Astor of the Scher merhorn Building, on Broadway and Wall Street, and the Putnam Building, In Times Square, were only coincidents and had no particular significance. Many Asking Reason The man in the street is not dis? missing the question in this way. He j has his own views of tho reason for i the violent tack taken in the business policy of the English, and the Amer? ican estates. Mr. and Mrs. Vi cent Astor have been among the most patriotic during the war. Mr. Astoi gave his yacht over to the service of the navy and ho himself entered the naval service and took his stand ir the submarine-infested waters of the English Channel, the North Sea ant the Bay of Biscay. Mrs. Astor took up the work of comforting the fighting men of the American Expeditionary Force. In addition to personal service Mr. Astor employed his wealth in the service of the men of the army and navy. No doubt Baron Astor and his family did similar patriotic work in the country of their adoption. It is known that the charities Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Astor entered into have been costly. Now that the war is over the gov- : ernments of the United States and Great Britain have set about to pay? off that great debt incurred in teach? ing Germany that might is not right The American Congress and the Par? liament of England have decided that private incomes must be shared with the government, that it may be able to quickly repay the money owed. The men and women and families with large incomes of course have felt keenly the plans of the two govern? ments to bolster up their financial re? sources. The larger the incomo the greater the shore to the government. Baron Astor's Tax For instance, it is estimated that Baron Astor must pay over to the Brit? ish government nearly as much as GO per cent of his income, which comes chiefly from his real estate holdings in America. The American government, of course, is not permitting income de? rived hero to get away without getting its share, so Baron Astor must pay an income tax in this country which is perhaps as drastic as the English tax. When both governments have had their snare Mr. Astor has no income; in fact, he has to draw on hi? surplus in order to meet the full amount of both tares and maintain himself, which is contrary to the As? tor family's business axioms. Vincent Astor,1 of course, escapes the tax levied in England on the in? come of his uncle*, Baron Astor, and of his cousin, but as a resident of AmericM his taxes are high, so high, the man in the street figures, that the income from his choice real estate is not sufficient to maintain him after the government lias taken what tho law demands. It is all conjecture on the part of the man in the street when he says that by the salo of income producing prop? erties, such as the Putnam Building and the Schermerhorn srtucture, in the Wall Street zone, and the imestment of the proceeds in tax exempt bonds that Mr. Astor may live *^ell within the return from his investments and yet do all that the government expeecs of him. The vacant lands of both houses of Astor, scattered through Manhattan and The Bronx, will have a market some day, and whatever sacri? fices are made now of valuable real estate holdings will be compensated in the long run. This, of course, is the theory of the man in the street, who has been startled by tho change in the policy of the Astor estates. His deductions may he lar off the mark, but since the Astors are unwilling to talk, and they art perfectly justified in being reticent ir ! such matters, tongues will wag and stories will multiply. The anomalous state of the world, the direct result of the war, may be measured by the contrast in the policy of the Astors with regard to their real estate. Only a condition of the great? est urgency would have forced the sale of the four buildings, which both fami? lies have sold since the first of the year. They were the goldtields of the : families, the brighte.it gems in their row of holdings. The first shock came when Cantain Astor sold the Astor Court Building, 10 Wall Street, extend? ing through the block to Pine Street. The Bankers Trust Company paid $!, 650,000 in cash for the property, which was the only terms on which the prop? erty could be bought, and the only terms on which any of the Astor prop? erty has been sold. The passing of the Astor interest in that property meant the terminating of an ownership that started back in tho early 80's. The Bankets Trust Company plans the improvement of the property and addi? tional realty on Pint; Street, which has already been secured, with a tall build? ing. Ten days ago Vincent. Astor is said to have received $1,500,000 for his Schermerhorn Building in the same block and surrpunding tho First National Bank at the northeast cornet of Wall and Broadway and the Ameri? can Surety Building at the southeast corner of Broadway and Pituj Street. The property is known a; 96 Broadway, 6 Wall Street and ?: and 5 Pine Street. The Broadway end of the structure stands on the bastion ! of the palisade or wall which was j erected along Wall Street to protect | the little colony to the south from raids by Indians and unfriendly neighbors. 1 Mr. Astor's ancestors bought the property, when it was worth only a. small fraction of its present value. It was a good-paying property. The in? come was practically net, as there war. iio mortgage on the realty. Mr. Astor was paid cash for the building by the American Surety Company, w;hich owns the neighboring structure. This deal ended Astor interest in , realty in this block, in which is some ' of the most valuable property in the woild. Just previous to the consum ' mat Ion of this transaction, Captain As . tor sold the Exchange Court Building, at the south corner of Broadway and j Exchange Place, extending along tne latter street to New Street. A valua? tion of $2,800,000 has been placed on this building, which is twelve stories high and covers wide frontage on Broadway, New Street and Exchange Place. Robert E. Dowling purchased the property, meeting Mr. Astor's terms by the payment of all cash. The Putnam Building, in Times Square, was the first large property to be sold by Vincent Astor. With the Putnam structure, which covers the block on the west side of Times Square from Forty-third to Forty fourth Street, Mr. Astor also parted with Westover Court, the bachelor apartment group in the rear. Robert E. Simon, as head of a syndicate, paid cash for the properties, the amount be ing about $4,000,000. This property gave Mr. Astor an income of $320,000 a year minus the cost of maintaining it. This realty was resold recently to the Famous Player-Lasky Corporation as a site for an office building and theatre. The profit on the resale was said to have been SI,000,000, the deal being one of terms favorable to the buyer. Astor House Site Deal It is now reported that the remain? ing half of the old Astor House, stand? ing at the southwest corner of Broad? way and Barclay Street, is under ne? gotiation which, if consummated, will result in the removal of this old land? mark and the development of the site with a modern structure. Nothing au? thoritative has been heard on this scot yet, but in view of the previous dis? posals made by the Astors such a 3tep would not be out of question. It bam? been common gossip for some weck \ that several speculative, interests w. r_ after the remnant of the famous oh! building. Before the snow flies the Henry As? tor trust property, comprising scores of tenements, dwellings and a few tli . atres located between Broadway and the Hudson River, Forty-fourth a?? 1 Fifty-second streets, will be placed o?i the auction block for liquidation. It will be the first time in history tnat Astor property has been sold from an auction block. Henry Astor was the grand-uncle of Vincent Astor, a:.d there are many of the heirs of ! i.: estate. He was little known until his death a few years ago, because he had estranged himself from his family by marrying the daughter of a farmer near the Astor estate at Red Hook, o tiic- Hudson River. Thertv are a score of heirs to til property of Henry Astor. Instead of absorbing, or rather -i:-tr:but:ng. tail real estate among th? claimant! un der the trust agreement, the heir? have agreed to a fr n ; y action, sh ing the court to ?"?f.: ??. the property, It will be I t into the Vesey Slreet auction market some of these daye and the grasp of the Astors or. the real estate of the Eden Farm eect.on will bo permitted to he broken by the Astor.? themselves. The papers in tht case ??o not attempt to make tho action appear anyth ng but fi he law? yers ask for pari tioi the 'rankest form possible in legal procedure, bat behind il al! is a reason which the law? yer.', or the Astors ??r?? not w.iling tc discuss on the score that it ?b n* one's business but theirs. But th? tongue of the public will not be stflM by the silence ? E *v;e Aster* ar.d th* query, "What is the cause of it allr will live until the public's curios::* is satisfied. Vincent Astor has sold property be fore t'nis year, lie parted with a !?'P tract in The Bronx, hut for a highly improved parcel in the businesi hoi of The Bronx. This >??s a tranatttit** he American Reai Estate Co? pany. He snld th?? corner of Broad way and Nittetieth Street, on w.-i?ci he had erected a line market build;"-, to Adolph Lewisohn, who !*a? k'-n realty of another character in T*" payment. But not until recentiy ho the young man sold prop-rty :<>r money alone. Lull in City Building as Great as During the War Demand for Homes Throughout the Country Has Increased Froln 1,000,000 to 1,300,000 in S?x Months, With Little Relief i? Sight Tn this city to-day there is as little building going on ns there was when this country was at war and when the Kovernment had a complete ban on all non-essential construction work, de? clared Allen E. Beals in an address be? fore the New York and New England Brick Manufacturers at a conference nt the Hotel Ten Fyck, at Aibany, last v-eek. Mr. Beals is head of the Allen J3. Beals Corporation, of New York, jmblishers. Other speakers included C?overnor Smith, Mayor Watt of Al? bany, W, Knickerbocker Boyd, archi? tect, of Philadelphia, and C. H. Stod ?lard, of Chicago, representing tho i'?mmoii Brick Manufacturera of Amer? ica. Mr. Beals declared the delay in build? ing resumption was chiefly due to labor troubles and the shortage of labe.* brought on through the war. New York, New England and Now Jersey in ?normal times annually used about live billion brick, while this same ?district will consume this year two Million brick, the leanest year for clay pro? ducers the Eastern country has ever known, he said. "The actual present day require? ment of this country Is a million homes," Mr. Beals continued. "This is an estimate made by the Department of Labor. The country needs about 450, 000 factories, more than 6,000 hotels, ?nearly 6,000 schools and public institu? tions, about 55.000 apartments, about 1_0 major freight terminals, 14,000 railroad stations and freight sheds and nearly 20,000 theatres and churches. Small Percentage of Building "Only about 40 per cent of thi^ total is actually under way at this time of ?which the district represented by this conference shows the lowest propor? tion. The greatest proportion of ac? tual building work is that section known as the middle west. > "We have said that the country's ?iresent'.naed is a million homes. That a correct ot last March. Six months lava ?lapsed and 800,000 more homes j are needed now than were needed then. Half of these homes have been made necessary by marriages; the remainder is chargeable to speculative building enterprises, replacement by fire, wind ; and flood and somt to building en? largements. To be exact, every nor? mal year, this country required about 600,000 new homes or places of abode which includes apartments and hotels. j "The biggest building year the coun? try ever had in 1916, developed ??bout S 1,500,000,000 worth of construction. The greatest volume of building mate ! rials of all kinds that all the build? ing material manufacturers of all the country turned out in a single year ; totalled in value barely $2,000,000,000. j That was in the day when labor was , plentiful and friendlier to capital, be ', fore war laid its heavy hand upon man power in this country. To-day it is estimated that all the manufacturers of all the 3,000 kinds of building ma? terials and equipment that can enter into the construction of a modern building, cannot turn out more than $900,000,000 worth of materials while tho potential volume of building re? quired at this very minuto would cost $4,500,000,000. New Era of Industry "You, as <*aptains of a great Indus? try start the new era of proapcritj with at least one factor in your favoi that is denied to producers of othei commodities. It is that by your clos? adhesion to actual cost in fixing you: market prices you have kept the cos of building materials 23 per cent be low the price of actual commoditie so that the pre-war dollar will to-da go farther in producing buildings thai will tho same dollar expended in com modifies in general. It is largely re sponsible for tho fact that althoug' geueral commodities have been ad vanced 116 per cent over what the; were in the days before the great con flict, construction costs have advance only 60 to 100 per cent over what the; were prior to 1917. This in spita a double the freight rater*of 1916." Banishment of Flat Trolley Rates in New Jersey A Blow to Home Development and Real Estate Values Whatever may be the merits of the zone fare plan applied by the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey to transit lines, real estate men are op? posed to it at present and would wel? come the repeal of tho plan. Thou? sands of small homo owners and thou? sands who are still in the process of buying homes are with tho real estate men in their stand against a continua? tion of the transit fare plan inaugu? rated all over New Jersey last Sunday. It has developed into a political issue, to the glee of real estate in? terests who hope by making it a capi? tal issue in the political field that pressure will be brought to bear on transit officials and the Board of Public Utility Commissioners to the advantage of real estate and tho small home owner or buyer. Real estate men look at the situa? tion with apprehension. They see in the plan the dissipation of the benefits of years of propaganda, development of a demand and good will for New Jersey real estate, and the destruction in part or in whole of the financial structure built up and around real estate. New Jersey Buburbs, and for that matter the suburbs of New York City and other large commercial centres, have been developed on cheap transit based on a flat rate. 5-Cent Fare Slogan Real estate developers have made capital of cheap transit. The 5-cent fare was held tip to the public in large and. compelling advertisements. The transit companies encouraged this work of the real estate men in buildT ing up new areas by cooperating in every wsy in the work of develop? ment. Municipal interests were also interested in operations of real estate men and helped them and the trac? tion companies to accomplish their plans. It meant for the municipality or the nearest town ot city large pop? ulation, high realty values, expansion of trade and the attracting of new commercial enterprises. From Newark, for instance, ,r> cents would carry one miles into the suburbs of the city in the days when real es t?te promotion was at its height in tiiat part of New Jersey. The trolley was tho. riva", of tho steam railroad because its use permitted a large sav nic: in fares each day. The home owner living five or ten miles outside Newark a few years ago rode into the city on one of the many radiating lines of electric railways and took the Hudson nnd Manhattan tube train into New York City, or accepted the service of one uf the many steam railroad systems passing through Newark. Hnder the zoning scheme instituted by the trolley corporation competition with the steam train systems has been eliminatad, an the tariff on the t?olley mile figures about Li cents, which is the same as the travel cost on tho big railroaii routes. In other words, the man who rode say ten miles for a 5 or 10 cent fare must pay 20 to .'i30 cents to travel tho same distance under the zono fare plan. Bad for Small Homes The statement of the traction inter? ests that the zone plan is a fair one because it is based on distance trav? elled is not accepted by all Jersey folks. There are many who will have to pay 7 cents for a ride of little more than a zone and a half unless they walk to the nearest zone limit and take a car there and alight at the other end of the zone and continue their walk to their destination, which may be a few blocks into the next zone. To ride these few blocks on either end of the zone travelled would not be economy, be cause the cost of travel would be as much as 4 and 5 cents a mile. Tin family that goes to the suburbs anc buys a house on the instalment plan i: forced to exercise the strictest econ omy. Every cent must be put to usefu purposes. Great distances will be travelled t? I reach cheap housing facilities provided the cost to get there is moderate and will warrant the sacrifices made. The thousand.-; who have "availed them? selves of tii'.' cheap rent transit, rate to get out of Newark and other congested and costly property sections lind them- ! selves in the position of the boy whose clothes were stolen while he was in swimming. The thousands far-flung about Newark have miscalculated and will find that the sacriliee in time consumed on the trolley has brought them nothing but high travelling cost. Those in a position to do so will come within the low fare limits, which means congestion, high rentals and perhaps unhealthy conditions within the low fare area. Values in the distant places are ex ?ected to feel the effect of the new rder of things. Traffic will also be in? fluenced by the zone plan. If there are three zones separating a certain group of Ijomes from Newark, say, and only one from another town, travel will increase in the direction of the latter town. Business naturally will be im? proved that much in that town, while Newark will lose proportionately. No city is so largo that it will not notice or feel the loss of business. The transit facilities provided in and about Newark have made that city the largest in New Jersey. It may sur-, prise folk3 that there are only two or three corners in New York City more valuable than one at Broad and Market streets. Great department stores, banking institutions and business pop? ulation have been supported on cheap transit, according to the complaining real estate men. Bad for Trade Newark's stores draw patrons from miles and miles beyond the city's lim? its. They are the thriftiest of people having bought their homes in most cases by piling up their small savings They will rebel against the increasec cost of travel to Newark and will pat ronize nearer store ce&tres, or. If no I that, then their trips to Newark will be limited. Th.- /one scheme permits the trolley' corporation to combat the jitney lir.es which sprang into being when the trolley lines lifted Vares to more than five cents within prescribed sections. The jitney carried passengers for a live-Cent tare within tne area in which the trolley companies charged seven cents. The jitney service did not lend itself to crowding. Traffic naturally took to the more economical and better service. It is estimated that jitneys took $900.000 out of the pocket of the trolley company last year. About 50 per cent of the trolley travel is logic? ally jitney business because this trartic ii ot the short haul character. The zone fare scheme will permit the trolley to charge three cents for the first zone of about a mile in distance. This is two cents less than the initial fare on the jitney, and the belief is that tho trolley lines will win back this lost business,. which was a big loss indeed. System Used Elsewhere Regulation of fares on trolley sys? tems according to zones is not new The zone system is now in use on ont of the small roads in Queens by per? mission of the Public Service Commis? sion of this district, it has been in us* in various parts of Westchester anc others sections of New York State un< in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee parts of Massachusetts, Portland, Prov idence and Cleveland. It is a foreign plan, and was firs introduced in England more than fou years ago. On English railways th charge for a ride of I l?? miles is on penny, which on a tramway will carr one _ miles. The system is such tha one is not charged the full initial far if the distance to be travelled is onl part of a zone. The English trans companies will take one three-quartei o? a mile for a halfpenny. At leas 'hat was the tariff before the revolt tionizing influences began to effei businesses and costs. Campaign to Mortgage Plan of Guaranteeing Kahler, President Mortgage Co., Sec Bring More Money Into Use ?i Certificates Begun by H. .4. of the N,ew York Title and ?ss to Interest Small Investor The New York Title and Mortgage Company, which not long ago started a plan for th?? guaranteeing >f titles to real estate in all parts of the United States, now plans the sale of guaran? teed mortgage certilcates. H. A. Kahler, president, of the company, says this new plan has been developed in an effort to bring new mortgage money into the. city. "In the ten years ending 1914," says Mr. Kahler, "the amount has dropped to S189.000.000. or a decrease of about liO per cent. The reason for this was the embargo placed by ?he government on new construction during the war and the call for financing the cost of the war by the sale of Liberty bonds. Among those who responded most lib? erally were the great insurance com? panies, savings banks and trustees of large estates, upon whom construct.on interests depended for their first mort? gages. Money available for mortgages was absorbed by the government. Once in the hands of the government, by means of bond sales and taxes, it was then redeposited in the commercial banks and used by them under the in? fluence of the Federal Reserve system in short term credits for financing the expansion of commercial business on a basis of a highly inflated price level. This is the actual condition as it is to-day. "'The future is made even more omin ious for the use of a substantial vol? ume of the nation's wealth for internal permanent development by means of mortgage loans by the bill introduced by Senator Edge, of New Jersey, by which the resources of the Federal He serve system are mail?; available for certain domestic corporations winch do an exclusively foreign business. They are allowed by this bill to mal.?: loans on foreign real estate, and therefore require long credits. Money available for mortgages at home will thereby be lessened. "The scarcity of mortgage money is further helped by the fact that under the present tax jyatem income from mortgages is forced below the norB?l level and mad,- exceedingly unsttrttjj ive to ii v? stors Some mortgage!1 ?? ! res? nt in ? ? of those of wP income net oftci per cent' some as 1? v> is .' ;.* : When Ty rnment bonds are untaxed and yi*1 a high? r income, I i tend to for? monej out of mortgages into nigi yield secur I ie "The movement to exempt ***? ? com? taxai tgages in the W of a single inv? -???- ip '? ?40.000v\-f some help in repl? ? ? the stipP-J ] of mortgage j . "The mam thing now is to tl'*tt\J| a new source of mortgage money,-^ small investor the working m-ft J farmer and the small businai':.'j of the smaller communities ('j ' . count ry who have ai ? ~'e'' ,?f plus now deposited in the H?" banks of our : . ' t:Fj- ,,_ To tap this resen f cap)?' '; Ka 1er prono **? an extensive csmP??J of ed icati?n through the 8&enC>,.,j local banks ti these rural comm?w?2 for the sale ? tertjM?* ,, small denominations. Mr. *^8n'^5-,. now addressing a lettei to the P.; dent of every bank in s''',v V, ,0 o'a? outside of the city, and *??? '-^ that with the same letter to "re? in all the New England 3tat*s"KoBi theme of his letter is "Keep tn? ? Fires Burning." He attempts W^, home to tl ?? country banker a T,,.'..-. tion that part of the pr? jent fi0i'h'uj? r%st is caused by the stoppage? BU ing during the war. ^ "High rents are the supreH* ?jJJ irritant," says Mr. Kaiser. ' l? .'?.fc?/ this breeder of Bolshevi m and?r.? building must start at once, "?????i be done w ? ; ' > w , ^s? first mortgages. This money mU* ?,0?? from the pe ?pie. Kir.-,t ra0'ffaSf o*l building certificates yield 5^-,??', prjn interest and are guaranteed. x" yeart cipal will be returned in "????* and the buyers are assured la*Aetl$? dollar they put in these *IS2f_ will go into the building o? v>*?0*~* \ home."