A Queens real estate investment and development company has offered to help save Most Precious Blood School in Astoria through either the purchase of the parish’s parking lot for $10 million or a combination of donated renovations and additional funds.
Venetian Management LLC of Forest Hills sent a Feb. 2 letter outlining the offer to Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio and copied to Most Precious Blood Pastor Rev. William Krlis. The letter is signed by Ronnie Cohen, president, and Ron Saintil, of customers relations.
“We are able to administer renovations to your educational facilities in its entirety plus provide additional funds,” the letter says, in part.
Cohen told the Chronicle that means he is willing to do either the $2.55 million in renovations to the school or $3 million in renovations to the church that the church says are necessary. Cohen says he would either do that pro bono or donate the funds for someone else to do the renovations.
“In the alternative, we could transfer $10 million in cash for your restoration purposes or other projects and in exchange we would develop the parking lot at 32-01 36th Street,” it says. The parking lot in question is at the intersection of 32nd Street and 36th Avenue next to the school.
Cohen said he isn’t an alum of the school. Instead, he said he offered to make the repairs because a customer, someone he sold a house to years ago, called him in tears about the closing of the school and asked him if there was anything he could do.
To prove he has the funds, Cohen gave the Chronicle a copy of a letter on Signature Bank letterhead attesting to a bank account balance of $20 million. But he said neither the church nor the diocese has responded to his letters or phone calls.
“If we have the opportunity to meet and discuss what’s the best way we can assist. We are available,” Cohen said in a text message to this reporter.
Parents and parishioners learned that the parish intends to close the school at the end of this year in a letter dated Jan. 9 that was read at Masses that weekend. The parish and diocese cited declining enrollment at the school and the need for about $2.5 million of renovations to it and $3 million more to the church as the reasons for the closure.
Since then, parents tried to reverse the church’s decision at a January meeting with the pastor and diocesan officials.
A group of parents also protested on March 3 outside the office of the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese, which governs churches in Queens as well.
Krlis has said that enrollment in the school’s kindergarten-through-eighth grade program has dropped by 20 students since last year to about 190. Parents note that the school also serves nursery and prekindergarten students to make up a total student body of 315.
In addition to the Venetian Management offer, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island, Brooklyn) had secured an offer from the Building and Construction Trades Council to do the repairs for free.
Neither Krlis nor the bishop’s office had returned calls as of press time.