The Dutiful Niece

It was the insulation of a life spent in seven-story walk-ups, she realized later, that drew her to real estate and to the glamorous doormen and elevator buildings she was granted access to as a young broker for Century 21, where she started working a year after the incident with her aunt’s property. “Mostly I was curious,” recalled Ms. Polsinelli. “How does everyone live? What do all these big apartments look like, and so I did very well because I was genuine about the apartments I was showing. ‘This is beautiful!’ I’d say, and the buyer would say, ‘Yeah, it is.'”

A consistent string of modest apartment deals convinced Ms. Polsinelli to turn her talents to commercial real estate, a challenge that immersed the recent N.Y.U. graduate in an endless spiral of 12-hour work shifts at what was then Bach Realty. Her focus paid off in 1986, when she successfully brokered the sale of 444 Park Avenue South, an 80,524-square-foot office building blocks from Madison Square Park.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but I somehow sold an office building,” she says now of her first commercial deal.

Ms. Polsinelli said that lately her professional life has blurred with her personal life. As a resident of Two Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square Park (and mere blocks from her childhood home), the mother of three young boys has acted as the president of her co-op board. With zealous dedication, she regularly meets not just with her own board but with the boards of other co-op buildings in the neighborhood in an effort to learn about the latest issues.

Meanwhile, in a deal expected to be finalized this week, Ms. Polsinelli is brokering an agreement that would relocate a financially troubled Catholic school into the building that houses her children’s East Village elementary school. Because the deal has not been signed, she declined to discuss details of the transaction.

“So now our school stays open and their school survives,” Ms. Polsinelli said. “I’ve saved two Catholic schools. Both would have closed.”

But it’s at that red-brick building in Soho where the professional and personal continue to intersect. Indeed, 10 years after her aunt’s building was flipped, Ms. Polsinelli crossed paths with the third-party buyer, who expressed how badly he felt about the transaction. When the owner decided to resell the building in 1995, he hired Ms. Polsinelli to act as his broker. The partnership, she said, lasts to this day.

“If you’re in real estate, you’ve got to live it,” she said. “If you don’t live it, you won’t grow and you won’t learn and you won’t have longevity.”

jsederstrom@observer.com

The Dutiful Niece