Not only is Michael Bolla trying to lure Jews back to the Lower East Side with a new condominium project, but he’s also working to keep alive whatever flailing Jewish presence remains in the neighborhood. The Jewish Week reported that the Prudential Douglas Elliman agent and real estate developer stepped in to save Israel Wholesale Imports, a Judaica store at 23 Essex Street.
As Bolla tells it, he saw the visibly frustrated store manager outside the shop trying to sell merchandise to interested passersby. When he asked what was wrong, she said she had no customers and she’d be going out of business because she couldn’t meet the month’s rent payment.
Bolla arranged financing, including some of his own funds, to ensure the store — believed to be the last of its kind on the Lower East Side — could cover its rent. Now, he’s beginning to outline a plan that would help the old shop transition to “the Judaica store of the future.”
Bolla said he has taken an interest in the neighborhood through his work on the forthcoming Madison Jackson condo. [Jewish Week via Lo-Down NY]