302 West 12th Street at Hudson Street
Circa 1931 // ARCHITECT: Boak & Paris // BUILDER: Bing & Bing Cons. Co.
This is one of the most prestigious apartment buildings in New York below 42nd Street — and a rare prewar condo to boot. Facing Abingdon Square, this is part of a group of Bing & Bing buildings from the 1930-1931 period that put an indelible stamp on Greenwich Village which, up to that point, generally consisted of old converted brownstones and smaller scale (8-10 stories) apartment buildings. All of the buildings in this group — 59 W 12th, 45 Christopher Street, 2 Horatio Street, and 299 & 302 W. 12th Street — set a new standard for quality and elegance for The Village, albeit with practical 3, 4 and 5 room apartments. While I appreciate the architecture of this entire group, 302 West 12th Street stands out for me. The site of this building is clearly the most irregular (actually, pentagonal), so the challenge to make the building work was, indeed, greater than for any of the other buildings. And, of course, with greater challenge there is a greater possibility to shine. 302 West 12th Street is truly a masterpiece — both for its exterior appearance and its apartment layouts.
The exterior is enviable because it has two front facades: the north front faces 12th Street while the northwest front faces Horatio Street and Abingdon Square. Dark red brick is used to create an overall art deco feel. The window openings are quite large and the fenestration pattern is regular and pleasing. There is a one-and-a-half story stone base that houses retail space and captures the lower portion of the second story apartment windows, itself a somewhat unusual detail. Above this floor, there is a brick and stone belt course forming a sill for the fourth floor windows. Towards each end of the two street-facing facades there is an elaborate stone window surround casing a pair of windows. These are magnificently executed and conceived. They have a beautiful art deco feel, modernistic interpretations of columns, with iron Juliet railings, also in a modernistic style, relying more on naturalistic forms that on the classically inspired motifs of just a year earlier.
The interior is fabulously conceived with eight apartments on a typical floor from floors 2-17. The two passenger and one service elevators are situated in a u-shaped hallway that accesses all eight apartments, but none are more than 35 feet from any unit. There are two 2-Bedroom units, one on the southeast corner (G Line), and the other on the southwest corner (E Line). The other six apartments are all one bedrooms. The B, C, and D Lines all face north-northwest. The F Line faces southwest, and the H Line faces east. Not a single apartment has a true, pure north exposure — the least direct of all light. All the layouts are spacious with over-sized rooms and good closets. The kitchens are a bit small, but the expectation was most meals for these downtown denizens would be taken at restaurants. Every apartment has a wood burning fireplace.
WHAT A BUYER CAN EXPECT TO PAY: Two bedrooms will surely cost well over $2M to as much as $3M, and one beds over $1.5M. The premium for the spectacular light and views of the higher floor apartments can be equally lofty and these apartments just don’t change hands very often.