The Science of Sexy: LA Power Couple Drops $4.95 M. on Chelsea Townhouse

It's all about symmetry: we assume this applies to townhouses renovation as well. (Patrick McMullan)

It’s all about symmetry: we assume this applies to townhouses renovation as well? (Patrick McMullan)

If there is one thing the fashion and interior designer, author, artist, real estate developer and all around composition maven Bradley Bayou understands, it is symmetry. Symmetry, his artist’s statement says, is the one scientifically-proven “timeless evolutionary trait for sexy.” (For the record, the Observer has yet to hear the term “sexy” uttered in the context of lab work.) The trait naturally figured in Mr. Bayou’s 2006 fashion manual The Science of Sexy, and it was no doubt on his mind when he and William Morris Endeavor board member and Hollywood super agent Mark Itkin, went real estate shopping recently in Chelsea. The townhouse they settled on at 353 West 20th Street—for $4.95 million, about a half million less than the $5.5 million ask—does not immediately suggest sexiness. But then, Mr. Bayou is good with makeovers.

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A kind of fallow stateliness.

Four stories and 23 feet wide, the redbrick home—currently configured as five one-bedroom apartments—stands among a row of landmarked houses and has considerable potential for stateliness. (For now, the trim could use painting and the front steps look as though they might be due for replacement.) The interiors, meanwhile, set-up as they are for efficient function,cry out for Mr. Bayou’s experienced hand, though high ceilings, hardwood floors, large first-floor windows and exposed brick all suggest a great deal of potential. There is, too, the matter of one rent-stabilized unit to contend with, but the other four would nonetheless create a very generous spread indeed—and that lucky tenant can’t stay forever (though rent-stabilized tenants do have a way of sticking around).

Should Messrs. Bayou and Itkin require only a modest accommodation and are keen on rental income, those four other apartments are, of course, market rate. And as noted in the listing, which was held by Sean Lefkovits at Marcus & Millichap, the nearby presence of the Brodsky’s new West Building—where condos have sold at more than $2,000 a square foot—can do nothing to hurt potential rental income.

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Windows like doors–French ones.

Whether the new owners primarily have business or pleasure on the agenda for 353 West 20th, we have little doubt that the home and its residents will benefit handsomely from Mr. Bayou’s long and diligent study of the science of sexy.