Michael Bolla Talks About His Experience at the Madison Jackson Building

Michael Bolla Talks About Kosher Restaurant, Reinvigorating Jewish Life on LES

Michael Bolla.

Earlier this week, Kosher Today reported that real estate developer and broker Michael Bolla wanted “to open a kosher restaurant at 171 (East) Broadway,”  formerly the home of vegetarian-centric restaurant “Broadway East.”  Ron Castellano, who owned “Broadway East” and who’s been renovating the space, told us the kosher concept is on the table but he’s also considering several other proposals.  The Kosher Today story indicated Castellano was in search of an “investing partner.” Yesterday, we spoke with Bolla, not only about his plans for the restaurant but also about his broader efforts to reinvigorate Jewish life on the Lower East Side.

Bolla said he would not actually be involved in the restaurant venture; he’s simply hoping to broker a deal involving experienced operators in the kosher food world.  While he believes a vegetarian restaurant catering to observant Jews on the Lower East Side and throughout New York City could be very successful, Bolla explained the food business is not his expertise and he does not envision partnering with anyone on the concept.  The space at 171 East Broadway is big, which could potentially scare away some restaurant operators.  But Bolla noted that kosher restaurants typically host large events, making the “Broadway East” location ideal for the right concept.   He said there are several interested parties, but no one has made a commitment yet.

A Kosher Restaurant at 171 East Broadway? Maybe

171 East Broadway.

Here’s some more information about a story we included in our “Morning Reads” today concerning a possible kosher restaurant coming to 171 East Broadway, the former home of “Broadway East.”   A trade publication, “Kosher Today” reported that real estate developer Michael Bolla is trying to open up a new vegetarian kosher spot in the location.   A short time ago, we spoke with Ron Castellano, who closed vegetarian-centric Broadway East about three years ago and operated a pop-up concept from the restaurant for a time. He’s spent the last several months renovating the space.

Castellano, who partnered with Bolla on the neighboring Forward Building condo conversion, said a few different proposals are being considered.  Bolla has a desire to open a kosher restaurant but different concepts from other potential partners are on the table, as well.  Back in the day, there was a kosher-style (it wasn’t endorsed by a rabbi) vegetarian restaurant called Schildkraut’s at 171 East Broadway, so there’s quite a history in this spot.

Castellano, an architect as well as nightlife operator,  has been taking his time revamping the interior, installing a wood-burning oven among other improvements.  Last spring, Bolla said he intended to open a judaica shop on the Lower East Side, but those plans fizzled.  Bolla is an Orthodox Jew.  He’s involved in the development and marketing of the Madison Jackson residential building.


Madison-Jackson Will Now Be a Luxury Rental Building

371 Madison Street. Photo: Prudential Douglas Elliman.

When last we spoke with Michael Bolla, real estate agent to the stars, he had pulled the Madison Jackson condo conversion from the market after receiving “multiple lucrative offers” from investors who wanted to buy the whole building.  The former P.S. 12 building at 371 Madison Street is owned by Chinatown banker Thomas Sung.  Bolla had only been selling apartments for a few weeks when the high profile marketing campaign was put on hold last summer.  Now there’s a change of course, once again.  The Observer reports:

Last week, Mr. Bolla said that the deal (to sell the building)  was nearly closed, but a few days later a source told The Observer that it had fallen apart after the Sungs rejected an offer in the mid-$60 million range.  On Monday morning, Mr. Bolla called to tell us that Mr. Sung had decided to keep the building. He and Mr. Sung had agreed to turn Madison Jackson into luxury rentals, which he would start selling at the beginning of the year.

The article is an entertaining read.  You can see the full thing here.


Madison-Jackson Owner Negotiating to Sell Building

371 Madison Street. Photo: Prudential Douglas Elliman.

There’s some news today about the Madison-Jackson, the former P.S. 12 building that was recently converted to condos.  We’re told by Michael Bolla, who teamed up with Chinatown banker Thomas Sung to develop and market the building, that apartment sales have been temporarily put on hold. The reason?  Sung, who bought the property at auction for scarcely more than a half million dollars three decades ago, is fielding multiple lucrative offers from potential buyers who want to purchase the entire building.

Bolla said there has been “overwhelming demand” from investors due in large part to the looming approval of the Seward Park redevelopment plan, a large mixed-use project on nine city parcels along Delancey Street.  The project has apparently prompted real estate developers to seize opportunities on the LES before prices become even more inflated.  Bolla said he is hopeful sales will resume soon after a deal is finalized.

Sales only got underway at 371 Madison Street last month.  The Madison-Jackson has some high-end features, such as an indoor swimming pool.  But the finishings were kept pretty modest and the prices set at around $500,000-$1,000,000.  Prospective investors could stay the course, turn the building into a very high end development or convert the Madison-Jackson to rentals.

Michael Bolla, LES Conservancy Host “Shabbaton” This Coming Weekend

The LES Jewish Conservancy is teaming up with real estate guru Michael Bolla for a big event this coming weekend — a 24 hour immersion on the Lower East Side.  The Jewish Adventure or “Shabbaton,” includes performances from MODI and Mo Kiss,  prayer sessions in several LES shuls, talks from local rabbis, guided tours of the neighborhood and special kosher meals.

Bolla has made no secret of his desire to attract Jews back to the Lower East Side. It’s part of his marketing strategy at the Madison Jackson, the condo conversion that will (apparently) hit the open market sometime soon.  Click here for more information.


P.S. 12 Alums Attend Reunion at Repurposed School Building

Photo credit: Douglas Elliman.

As we mentioned last week, 110 new apartments in a 1908 school building at 371 Madison Street will officially hit the market in the next couple of weeks.  But there’s already been quite a bit of activity inside the Madison Jackson building. The weekend before last, for example, a reunion was held in the former P.S. 12, which has not functioned as a school since the early 80’s.

Michael Bolla, the creative consultant and real estate broker responsible for the condo conversion, organized the reunion for around 50 graduates from the classes of 1958-1962.  He got the idea after fielding phone calls from former students curious about the project. The school building was abandoned by the city decades ago and sold at auction to Chinatown banker Thomas Sung.


BOFFO Show House Opens at Madison Jackson Building Next Week

In a couple of weeks,  prospective buyers will get their first crack at the new apartments inside the Madison Jackson building, the Lower East Side’s newest condo conversion.  But even before sales begin, there have been several interesting events at the former school building at 371 Madison Street.  On Tuesday, an especially ambitious project opens to the public — the 2012 BOFFO Show House.

BOFFO is an arts organization founded four years ago to promote collaboration among young designers and architects.  Its co-creators, Faris Al-Shathir and Gregory Sparks, turned to up-and-coming designer Andrew Yes to curate the interiors of four duplex condominium units at the Madison Jackson.

Developer Michael Bolla Rescues Judaica Shop

In the last couple of years, we’ve been following the plight of Israel Wholesale Imports, at 23 Essex Street.  Heidi Yousef has run the Judaica store for the past 15 years, but last month she finally made the decision to call it quits.  Not so fast.  Michael Bolla, the real estate developer behind the Madison Jackson building, is coming to the rescue.

In the Jewish Daily Forward, Bolla, an observant Jew, explains why he felt compelled to step in: “I was literally walking by the store and I saw this woman standing [outside] with these old candlesticks… and I said, ‘Darling, what are you doing?’ She said, ‘I have no customers.’ And I said, ‘You are not going to get them like this, darling.”

Morning Reads: More on Madison Jackson, Schools Get a Boost, The Voice’s Sex-Trafficking Scandal Heats Up

  • Developer Michael Bolla is hoping his current project, the new condo conversion at Madison Jackson, will aid in “a revival of the neighborhood’s historic but dwindling Jewish community” (NYT).
  • City Councilmember Margaret Chin joins the protest against sex-trafficking outside Village Voice headquarters — along with the son of Voice co-founder Norman Mailer (Capital NY).
  • Governor Cuomo and Shelly Silver agree on adding a 4% increase for school funding in this year’s state budget (which is expected to be voted into law today). Some school advocates say it won’t make up for cuts made in the last two years (Businessweek).
  • Iggy’s Bar on Ludlow makes it on to BlackBook’s list of quintessential “Dumps, Dives and Holes” (BB).
  • Ben Stiller and friends will be on East 10th Street between Avenue C and Avenue D next week, shooting the re-make of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (EV Grieve).

Broker Michael Bolla Talks About the Madison Jackson

371 Madison Street. Photo: Prudential Douglas Elliman.

The other day we headed over to the Madison-Jackson, the new condo project near Corlears Hook Park, to check in with Michael Bolla, the high profile real estate broker handling sales.  There are 110 loft-like apartments in the 1908 school building, which has been vacant since the early 1980’s.  The units won’t be on the market for a few more weeks, but Bolla is all set-up in a ground floor apartment/office with a view of the Vladeck Houses.

As the Wall Street Journal reported a few weeks ago, the building, 371 Madison, was purchased by Chinatown banker Thomas Sung in 1983, but remained untouched until recently.  Bolla is known for handling an impressive roster of celebrity clients, including Hugh Jackman, Isabella Rossellini, Denzel Washington and Jennifer Aniston.  He’s no stranger to selling high-end apartments on the Lower East Side. In 2006, Bolla was the exclusive agent for The Forward Building.