“Celebrating 10 Years of Casa Belvedere” Capital Campaign
Dear Members and Friends of Casa Belvedere,
Back in late 2009, I was excited to read an article about Gina Biancardi’s vision to transform the long-abandoned and neglected Roebling-Stirn Mansion on top of Grymes Hill into an Italian cultural center. I recall my immediate reaction to the Advance story titled “Her Dream” because it was also a dream I held. I especially recall the feeling of “It’s about time.” Or more specifically: It’s about time that we build a monument dedicated to our ancestors whose hard work and sacrifices helped build this great city and nation! I immediately reached out to Ms. Biancardi and offered to help.
In 2010, Gina donated the mansion to the newly formed, not-for-profit Italian Cultural Foundation, making it possible to compete for several capital improvement grants. In the past decade, Gina has raised over $6 million in capital funds from New York City, New York State, Richmond County Savings Foundation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Additionally, to date, five families have contributed $600,000 to the total $6 million raised for capital improvements (John & Connie Profaci–Cucina Colavita; Salvatore & Helen Calcagno; Bill & Cathy Fani; Frances Valenzo; Michael & Joyce Pucciarelli).
We are very grateful to these generous donors and founding benefactors. However, we make up a mere 10 percent of the total capital improvement funds raised over the course of a decade. I can guarantee you this: Any other Staten Island cultural or community center which has undergone massive improvements and transformation has a long list of six-figure major gift donors, and I sincerely believe that many Casa Belvedere members have the resources to easily help us meet our restoration completion target.
For this and many other reasons near and dear to my heart, Joyce and I have decided to contribute additional funds to jumpstart Casa Belvedere’s final stage of restoration: the two upper floors of the building. Our donation is designed as a 5-to-1 challenge: For every $5,000 donated, we will donate $1,000. We do this in order to get the ball rolling. This means that if other donors collectively pledge a total of $500,000, Joyce and I will donate $100,000. However, that $600,000 may not be enough, as estimates have come in at $1 million-plus to complete the upper floors. Keep in mind that HVAC equipment and installation, plus structural issues requiring several steel posts, are big-ticket items.
Thankfully, Anthony and Carlo Seneca of C & A Seneca Construction have pledged to help secure in-kind donations for a portion of the work. We are extremely grateful to Anthony and Carlo for their efforts. Those of you who are able to donate goods, services, and/or supplies, please contact me and I will connect you to Carlo. Besides the HVAC system and steel, we also need lumber, sheetrock, flooring, bathroom fixtures, lighting, electric, plumbing, exterior pervious pavers for parking, irrigation system, and labor. The number of in-kind donations we receive will determine the balance of the dollar amount of funds needed to complete the building.
Friends and members, three-quarters of the projects are done, our ADA-compliant elevator/stair tower is almost complete, the exterior has been painted, and the grounds further beautified. I think the exterior looks as magnificent today as it was on the day it was completed in 1908. Now we need to finish restoring the two upper floors to provide educational, historical, and cultural activities open to all, and not just those of Italian descent.
As far as plans for the upper floors, imagine classrooms for more language classes, and for art, music, carpentry, masonry and joinery classes; open gallery space for permanent and rotating exhibits; small concerts and plays; lecture space for school trips and historic house tours; and more. And yes, we will offer added amenities for our members as well, such as dining on the 2ND floor including the 2nd floor’s spectacular outdoor terrace; a cigar lounge; conference rooms for business meetings, and more.
Today, Casa Belvedere is a place where people gather, exchange ideas, experience culture, build relationships, and create lifetime friendships. Casa Belvedere helps make our community a desirable place to live, work, socialize, and do business. And you just can’t beat the view, the grounds, the food, and the service. For Joyce and I, it’s a comfort zone, a happy place where we love to be during tumultuous times (like now), and during ordinary times as well. We’re proud to have played an integral role in this vital part of our community, and we hope you will join us in the joy of giving back.
Fellow members and friends, together we can get to the finish line and celebrate “10 Years of Casa Belvedere” with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony and other festivities! Your donation, big or small, in-kind or monetary, will help bring the transformation of this “Gem on the Hill (SI Advance) to completion. You can make a difference!
Vice-Chairman, Casa Belvedere
Chairman, “Celebrating 10 Years of Casa Belvedere” Capital Campaign
Again, if you would like to offer in-kind materials, please contact me asap. Also, if you would like to meet to discuss monetary donations further, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may leave a message at 718-273-7660. Naming opportunities with dedicated plaques are available for larger donors. And all donors will receive recognition online and in printed materials.
Thank you for your time and continued support!