Dominated by the towers on Second Avenue (rezoned in anticipation of the subway decades ago—speaking of which, how’s that coming along?), Kips Bay has never been the coolest neighborhood. But perhaps Rashid Johnson can turn that ho-hum image around: the post-black, as he calls himself, mixed-media artist and his wife, fellow artist Sheree Hovsepian, just bought a townhouse at 139 Lexington Avenue for $3.7 million, according to city records—a healthy discount off the $4.25 million ask.
The four-story brownstone straddles the border of Kips Bay and NoMad, lying in the dead center of another made-up micro-neighborhood: Rose Hill (the seller was listed only as Rose Hill LLC).
The home built in 1901, but is currently decked out with plenty of new name-brand touches—”Bulthaup kitchen, Gaggenau oven and cooktop, SubZero refrigerated drawers,” according to the listing description. As currently configured, the home has four bedrooms, along with a playroom/study opening onto a private garden in the basement.
Despite the modern touches, the house still retains its original cornice up top, along with pediments on the second-floor (excuse us—parlour floor, according to the listing) windows. Still, if Mr. Johnson and Ms. Hovsepian want to bring the exterior into the 21st century, they have over 4,500 square feet of additional development rights to play around with.
They could use this extra square footage to add a penthouse addition atop the fourth floor of the existing 3,840-square foot structure, but to maximize the space permitted, they would have to do what a few other property owners on the block have already done and raze the building entirely. The couple would then be free to set loose their full creative fury on the property, as the block has not been claimed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission—well, not yet, at least.