When Adelaide Polsinelli, an associate vice president at Marcus & Millichap, learned that her children’s East Village elementary school was in danger of shutting down last year, she come to the rescue and leased a portion of the building to another struggling Catholic school. The deal kept both academies afloat.
“It was a personally motivated challenge,” she said. “I don’t specialize in schools, but I knew what to do.”
Around that time, her oldest son was getting ready to start college in Buffalo, New York. When Polsinelli dropped him off on campus, she took the opportunity to scour the area for potential deals. “I’m working on a portfolio of triple net properties, and one of them is in Buffalo,” she said.
Such ties between business and family matters are nothing new for Polsinelli, who launched her career at Century 21 over two decades ago, and joined Marcus & Millichap in 2008.
In the early eighties, before deciding to pursue real estate, Polsinelli helped her aunt, then a recent widow, sell a five-story apartment building in SoHo, not far from the Greenwich Village walkup where she spent her childhood.
As she told the New York Observer last year, the outcome was less than favorable: the owner of a café on the ground floor took advantage of his right of first refusal and flipped the building, blindsiding Polsinelli and her aunt.
In the years since, she has sold the building twice, reconciling with the café owner in the process. But the rest of her resume has varied as widely as her clients, which range from industry leaders to close friends looking to buy or cash in on real estate investments.
Rather than narrow her focus to retail condos, say, or multi-family properties, Polsinelli grabs any worthwhile assignments that come along. The result was the sale of a building in TriBeCa that housed the Knitting Factory, the famed music venue that relocated to Williamsburg two years ago, and that of a redbrick tenement on Bleecker Street that once had Le Figaro Café at its base.
In recent months, she has racked up 23 exclusive assignments, and is in contract for over $70 million worth of retail and commercial properties throughout the country. “I specialize in opportunity,” said Polsinelli. “After two and a half decades doing this, I’ve touched on every market segment.”
Even within sectors, her deals have varied drastically. Not long after selling a one-story, 25-foot garage in East Harlem to a business owner for $658,000, she helped lease a parking facility beneath a Greenwich Village co-op. “The price on [the former] was less than the one-year rent on the other,” she said.
Geographically, too, Polsinelli’s assignments are all over the map. Earlier this year, she headed down to Philadelphia, near the University of Pennsylvania, to facilitate the sale of an 84-unit rental development popular with students.
Then it was back to Manhattan, where she lives with her husband and two of her three sons in an apartment building near Washington Square Park, to sell retail condos near the South Street Seaport, in SoHo, and on Chambers Street.
Over the years, Polsinelli has also handled a series of note transactions in the Big Apple. One such assignment – a $22 million portfolio – spanned Washington Heights, Harlem, and Brooklyn.
In Chelsea, she sold a note for a $30 million development site in the west 20s. The owner of the lot is still deciding what to build, she said.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, she’s handled a $26 million package of five commercial buildings in Chelsea. And she recently crossed state lines again to market a group of retail and office properties in Connecticut valued at over $35 million.
“We have a triple net medical center, we have a shopping center, we have an office building, and we have a combination of offices and shopping,” she said of the latter portfolio.
The properties are spread throughout Waterbury, Southbury, Avon, and Windsor, all small towns in the north and central portions of the state.
Compared to the pressure of saving her sons’ school from financial trouble, marketing the portfolio was a breeze. “It’s more of an investor’s deal,” she said. “It’s kind of an easy deal.”