(Staten Island, NY – September 27, 2019) The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) joined local elected officials and other local dignitaries today to break ground on a $1.8 million upgrade to bring Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility to Casa Belvedere in Grymes Hill, Staten Island. The project, which is scheduled to be completed in June 2020, is funded by DCLA and managed by DDC.
“Everyone will soon be able to access and enjoy the amazing programming offered at Casa Belvedere by the Italian Cultural Foundation,” DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “We are proud to build this addition for the community, and to complete it in time for an event-filled summer, next year.”
“This is a wonderful day for Casa Belvedere. We are particularly excited because improving accessibility for people with disabilities to all types of arts and culture is essential for every organization, large or small,” said DCLA Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Congratulations to the Italian Cultural Foundation for making this a priority in the expansion and restoration of this important Staten Island landmark.”
“This cliffside neighborhood is a hidden NYC treasure, with its breathtaking views of the Verrazano Bridge and New York Harbor,” said Casa Belvedere Foundation Founder and President Gina Biancardi. “But most aren’t aware that from the mid-1800s to the roaring 20s, many early residents of Grymes Hill helped influence the growth of New York City and the United States. Those families included the Vanderbilts, the Cunard shipping family, the Roeblings of Brooklyn Bridge fame, the Horrmanns, beer brewing moguls, the Cisco’s of the dry goods industry and many early American majors and generals.”
"Casa Belvedere is one Staten Island's most iconic treasurers,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “The views and atmosphere are amazing-- and I am thrilled that we can provide these upgrades so more neighbors can experience this landmark.”
“I am happy to see this project coming to fruition from funding I allocated when I was in the Council, said Borough President James Oddo. “This project is a demonstration of our commitment to realize the full potential of our city’s cultural institutions. These ADA accessibility improvements will ensure Casa Belvedere’s future as a part of the fabric of Staten Island,” said Borough President Oddo.”
“With commanding views of the harbor, a rich historical legacy and vibrant programs, Casa Belvedere is one of the North Shore’s cultural gems,” said Council Member Deborah Rose. “This $1.8 million upgrade will make this important institution more accessible to the many Staten Islanders and visitors who come to enjoy the food, views and programming here. Thank you to the Casa Belvedere Foundation, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Design and Construction for making this project a reality.”
“I would like to commend the Italian Cultural Foundation, NYC Department of Design and Construction and NYC Cultural Affairs for funding and implementing a new addition that will provide an elevator for persons with disabilities to access Casa Belvedere, said Assemblymember Charles Fall. “I take matters like this personally, having a family member who had a disability. I look forward to the completion of the new addition and I wish Casa Belvedere all the best and I am sure we will continue to see the facility provide great things for the Grymes Hill community in years to come.”
The Roebling-Stirn Mansion was built in 1908 by Louis A. Stirn and Laura Roebling-Stirn during a time when wealthy socialites went to Grymes Hill for spectacular views of the Verrazano Bridge and New York Harbor. The mansion was designated a New York City Landmark in 2001 and was listed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places in 2008, where the Stirn Mansion was renamed to “Casa Belvedere,” which translates to “a house with a beautiful view.”
A stair tower will be constructed at the northeast corner of the building to house a new staircase and an ADA compliant elevator that will be connected to an ADA compliant ramp. The addition will provide a secondary means of access to the existing building on each level, which will allow Casa Belvedere to open all of its spaces to the public. Fire protection will be enhanced with the installation of a new sprinkler system, exit signs and emergency lighting. To preserve the overall appearance of the landmarked building, the exterior finish of the stair tower will be made to match the existing building.
The Italian Cultural Foundation of Staten Island owns Casa Belvedere and is also in the process of raising additional funding to restore the building back to its original 1908 integrity. Due to water damage the second and third levels of the building are currently not in use. Upon completion, the Foundation plans to use the 8,000-square-feet of restored space for galleries, exhibitions, classrooms and offices.
Twenty-eight percent of the project’s ADA accessibility upgrade costs went to M/WBE subcontractors including Rick’s Construction & Ironworks, Inc., Inlight Electrical Corporation, Bravo Construction NY Corp and CPC Environmental Services Corporation.
DDC is one of the leading mayoral agencies in the City’s M/WBE program, having made more than $1.9 billion in contract awards to M/WBEs since 2014. DDC’s M/WBE utilization rate in the City’s most recent fiscal year was 20.36%. Over the past five years the DDC Office of Diversity & Industry Relations has hosted 27 and attended more than 150 procurement events, engaging almost 13,284 vendors, including 6,653 M/WBEs.
Contractors or M/WBEs seeking more information about DDC programs and contracting opportunities should contact the DDC Office of Diversity & Industry Relations at DDCODIR@ddc.nyc.gov.
The project was designed by Rampulla Associates Architects and will be constructed by TirCon, LLC.
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.
About the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves nonprofit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs.