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.
But during our conversation, he emphasized that the Madison-Jackson is not an “over-the-top” project. Yes, there is an indoor swimming pool and spa, a concierge, 24-hour organic room service and an organic juice bar. But Bolla said, the apartments are relatively modest. Prices range from around $500,000 to $1 million and are calibrated to be competitive with the Grand Street Cooperatives, just a stone’s throw away. The unit we viewed (#512) is 1166 square feet square feet and (although prices are not officially set) will be listed in the million dollar range.
Bolla said he’d compare the Madison-Jackson to the Printing House Building, in the West Village. The neighborhood is obviously a little different. What does he make of his new project’s proximity to the Vladeck Houses, a 20-building public housing project (named for Baruch Charney Vladeck, the onetime general manager of the Jewish Daily Forward)? Bolla said he thinks people in New York are accustomed to different housing types (low, middle and high income) being grouped close together. Plus, he said, the Madison-Jackson is so small in comparison (110 units compared to more than 1500 at the Valdeck Houses) that it “is in no way a game changer” on the Lower East Side.
Bolla has been making an effort to reach out to the community. Recently, he paid a visit to the Educational Alliance, one of the neighborhood’s larger social service organizations. He seemed genuinely interested in what’s happening on the LES (we discussed the Seward Park Development project in some detail).
As we walked through the not-quite finished lobby, Bolla told me, he has no “ideal client in mind” for the building. Soon enough, he’ll begin to see who walks through the doors of the Lower East Side’s newest condo conversion.