The Real Deal New York

Gramercy school submitted fraudulent letters to secure LPC approval for $67M renovation: officials

Friends Seminary’s correspondence actually signed by Caiola-connected non-locals
March 25, 2016 09:45AM

Luigi Caiola Friends Seminary 222 east 16th street

Luigi Caiola and the Friends Seminary at 222 East 16th Street in Gramercy

The Friends Seminary in Gramercy may have cut corners in its application for landmarks approval for its planned renovation, and several employees of B&L Management, owned by Luigi Caiola, whose daughters attend the school, seem to be involved.

The city’s Department of Investigation launched a probe into the school’s Landmarks Preservation Commission application connected to a planned $67 million renovation, which the commission approved in May, DNAinfo reported.

The application included a set of eight letters purportedly written by neighborhood residents in support of the project. But public records show that none of the letter signers’ names match those of anyone living nearby, according to DNAinfo.

Five of the names reportedly belong to B&L employees, including the company’s leasing direction, chief financial officer and receptionist.

Caiola, son of New York real estate macher Benny Caiola, who died in 2010, has actively raised funds for the school in the past, DNAinfo reported.

“Friends Seminary submitted those letters,” City Council member Rosie Mendez told the news service. “They know these people did not live on the block and they knowingly handed in false documents.”

“Whether or not the letters factored one way or another into the Commission’s decision, it is a fraud. Certain kinds of misinformation has a criminal impact and hopefully DOI can decide this.”

In August, Fairstead Capital and Blackstone Group acquired 24 Manhattan rental buildings owned by the Caiola family for $690 million. [DNAinfo]Ariel Stulberg