New Luxury Condos as Spacious as Town Houses

Above a side entrance to the Abingdon, a newly converted condominium building at 320 West 12th Street in the West Village, is carved the name “Laura Spelman Hall,” a reminder of the 1905 building’s early life as a home for working women. It was later a nursing home for 200 residents.

The 7-story building will have only 10 units, all larger than 3,200 square feet and some several times that size. The side door, flanked by granite columns, will serve as the private entrance for one of the bigger units, a 6,000-square-foot duplex “mansion” that is already in contract, having been priced at $12.995 million. Two duplex penthouses, which listed for $19.5 and $21 million, are also in contract; the former is being combined with a 3,200-square-foot unit below it, and will total 8,400 square feet over three floors.

Sales of the smallest units, which span half a floor each and start at $8.75 million, began mid-June. The strong early interest could be a sign of larger trends: that people with a lot of money are comfortable spending it again, and are interested in spending it in the West Village. Or it may reflect the particulars of the building, a prewar brick structure across from the picturesque and tiny Abingdon Square, with extremely large new apartments.

The design and development company that bought the building for $33.3 million in January 2011 started converting it soon afterward, and its apartments compare favorably with many of the neighborhood’s town houses. A managing partner of the company said, you take a 21-footer right in the middle of a block hypothetical town house. It’s fantastic, it’s gorgeous, whatever. But it’s dark, he said.

In contrast, he added, all of the units at 320 West 12th Street — which was formerly known as 607 Hudson Street — are on a corner, with windows on at least two sides. The building has amenities like a sauna and a gym and the services of a doorman and a porter. And, he continued, even the smallest units offer usable square footage in town-house-size quantities, without spreading it over multiple floors.

The larger condos are bigger than West Village town houses. A 9,600-square-foot three-floor apartment across the lobby from the 6,000-square-foot unit is currently under construction and will have a private entrance, a library with a fireplace, and a cavernous entry foyer. The person who bought the smaller “mansion” was a surprise bidder who had been there for a private viewing of another apartment, said another managing partner. Having glimpsed the separate entrance and raw space, he said, the buyer put us in a situation where saying ‘no’ was not really an option.

The timing of the conversion, with work finishing as signs point to a robust condo market in the most coveted Manhattan neighborhoods, is a happy accident for the developers. In 2007 they entered into a contract with the nursing home’s operator, Village Care of New York that was structured to make the sale final only after a replacement nursing home could be built. That facility opened in 2010 at 214 West Houston Street, clearing the way for work to start.

We thought it was going to be a two-year contract, but it ended up being a four-year contract, said another partner of the design and developing company. Which was fine, when you take into consideration what the years were like in between, he added.

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