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Breaking news: Jehovah’s Witnesses put Brooklyn Heights headquarters up for sale

Sought-after DUMBO site 85 Jay St. and 124 Columbia Heights are also being sold

December 4, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photos courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses
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This just in: The Jehovah’s Witnesses are putting their famed world headquarters in Brooklyn Heights up for sale.

The Watchtower Real Estate Office is offering iconic 25-30 Columbia Heights for sale, according to an announcement made Thursday night by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Office of Public Information.

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The more than 733,000-square-foot property, whose famed red “Watchtower” sign lights up the night, covers nearly two city blocks and has killer views of the Brooklyn Bridge. It has served as the organization’s headquarters for decades.

It’s one of three high-profile properties the Watchtower is putting onto the sale market. The three properties are expected to be sold in separate deals.

This is the latest move in the Witnesses’ long-running campaign to sell their once-vast Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO real estate holdings because of a planned move to a new headquarters they’re building in upstate Warwick.

The three offerings are expected to draw red-hot interest from developers eager to get their hands on prime locations in landmarked Brooklyn Heights and oh-so-trendy DUMBO.

A “competitive offering process” has started for 85 Jay St., “one of Brooklyn’s largest undeveloped sites,” the Witnesses’ announcement said.

“The site spans an entire city block in the dynamic DUMBO neighborhood and has nearly 1 million square feet of development rights,” Richard Devine, a Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman, said in a statement. It’s near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge.

Now used as a parking lot, the 135,000-square-foot Jay Street site also has frontage on York, Front and Bridge streets. Real estate sources told the Brooklyn Eagle two years ago that developers who had approached the Witnesses at that time were willing to fork over $400 per buildable square foot — nearly $400 million.

A competitive offering process has also started for 124 Columbia Heights, a ten-story, 152,000-square-foot residential building that overlooks Brooklyn Heights’ beloved Promenade.

Devine called it “a remarkable building with spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the impressive Lower Manhattan skyline.”

The Witnesses, who expect to complete their Warwick headquarters construction in 2017, still own another dozen Brooklyn Heights properties they have not yet brought to market.

They began their sell-off process in 2011.

One of their important holdings, the Hotel Bossert at 98 Montague St., fetched $81 million. Purchasers David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit are now in the throes of turning the Brooklyn Heights property, once known as the “Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn,” into a luxury hotel.

The Watchtower’s largest Brooklyn property transaction to date was the $375 million sale of a package of six DUMBO buildings on Adams, Pearl, Prospect and Sands streets to Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The Kushner Cos. and co-owner RFR are transforming the former Bible-printing plants into an office complex for tech and creative firms.  

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