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Former nursing home on Abington Square Park being converted to condos by FLAnk

March 28, 2011

Abingdon Square Park, a small, triangular park in the West Village formed by the intersection of Eighth Avenue and Hudson, Bank and West 12th streets, is one of the more elegant in the city.

It is bounded on the north by two handsome 17-story, pre-war apartment buildings and a cheery, 6-story, red-brick building that was originally the Trowmart Inn when it was built by William Martin as a resident hotel for young ladies in 1906 and its now being converted to ten, large residential condominium apartments by FLAnk Architects.

The two taller apartment buildings were part of a group of five, prominent and elegant apartment buildings developed by Bing & Bing in Greenwich Village in the early 1930s.

The small red-brick building, now known as the Abingdon, is located at 805 Hudson Street. It has a handsome portico entrance, arched windows on the first floor, a large cornice and stone quoins. In 1958, the building became the Village Nursing Home.

In 2007, the nursing home moved to a new location on West Houston Street and sold the building to FLAnk, an architectural and development firm whose other projects in the city include the copper-clad apartment building at 385 West 12th Street, nearby, and the bright thin apartment building with a metallic surface at 441 East 57th Street.

An article by Josh Barbanel in yesterday's edition of The Wall Street Journal noted that FLAnk has started marketing the building's two penthouses, for $19.5 and $21 million, respectively, even though the rest of the building's apartments will not hit the market until May. Normally, penthouses are the last units to be marketed but the demand is intense at the high end of the market, the article said.

The quarter-acre park was enclosed with a cast-iron fence in 1836 and Calvert Vaux, a co-designer with Frederick Olmstead of Central Park, created a new design for the small park in the 1880s.

Since 1994, there has been a greenmarket on the sidewalks around the Abington Square Park on Saturdays.

The park is name for Charlotte Warren, a resident of the area in the 18th Century who married Willoughby Bertie, the 4th Earl of Abingdon. Her father, Sir Peter Warren, a British naval officer, had bought in 1740 about 300 acres of land between the Hudson River and the Bowery and from Charles to West 21st streets and he gave a wedding gift to his daughter of the land that became known as Abingdon Square.

In 1921, Governor Alfred E. Smith presided at the unveiling in the park of a statue of a World War I soldier, known as a "doughboy," carrying a flag.

A row of red-brick townhouses was demolished on the north side of the park in 1931 for the 17-story apartment building at 299 West 12th Street developed by Bing & Bing and designed by Emery Roth. The 182 apartments in the building, shown at the left, have wood-burning fireplaces and step-down living rooms and were converted to condominiums in 1986.

The developer at about the same time commissioned Boak & Paris, an architectural firm made up Russell M. Boak and Hyman F. Paris, former employees of Emery Roth, to design a very similar, 17-story, 129-unit apartment building at 302 West 12th Street, also fronting on the park. It was also converted to condominiums in 1986.

Boak & Paris also designed the similar apartment building at 59 West 12th Street and Robert T. Lyons for the similar apartment building at 2 Horatio Street.

In 1929, Leo Bing, who with his brother, Alexander, ran Bing & Bing, was reported as stating that his goal was to "recreate the entire district as a modern counterpart of the high-class residential section it once was," adding that it would "rival Central Park and the fashionable east side within a few years."

The attractiveness of very small parks, such as Washington Square, Gramercy and Stuyvesant, can also be enjoyed a few blocks away at Jackson Square, which is overlooked by the 17-story apartment building at 2 Horatio Square and the very handsome, new, undulating apartment building designed by Bill Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox and known as One Jackson Square at 122 Greenwich Avenue.

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