Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO properties the Jehovah’s Witnesses haven’t yet sold: Part Two

Eye On Real Estate

December 30, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The golden-hued Watchtower headquarters building (right) is for sale; The Jehovah's Witnesses have not yet put red-brick buildings 50 and 58 Columbia Heights (left) on the market. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Amen, Amen, Amen.

The Watchtower’s got a trio of fine properties on the sale market.

Its Brooklyn Heights headquarters with the famous red neon “Watchtower” sign at 25-30 Columbia Heights. A terrific residential building at 124 Columbia Heights with jaw-dropping views of the Promenade and Lower Manhattan. A site at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO with nearly 1 million square feet of development rights.

The Watchtower is heading into the final stretch of a years-long process of selling its real estate in the two neighborhoods to prepare for the relocation of its headquarters to upstate Warwick. The move will begin in fall 2016 and continue into 2017, as we’ve reported.

With the Watchtower occupying top of mind among real estate-obsessed Brooklynites, this seems like the right moment to look at the dozen Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO properties the Jehovah’s Witnesses have not put up for sale — yet.

Here are four of them:

* 50 and 58 Columbia Heights: Three red-brick industrial buildings are included in the Watchtower headquarters complex as companion properties to iconic, golden-hued 25-30 Columbia Heights.

Two of the red-brick buildings are 50 and 58 Columbia Heights. They overlook the East River and the under-construction Pierhouse condo development, and are right next to Squibb Park. The two Columbia Heights buildings are located just outside the boundaries of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.

In the 1980s, the Jehovah’s Witnesses sought a zoning change so they could build a 34-story residential tower on the site of 50 and 58 Columbia Heights. Neighborhood residents opposed the construction of a tower of that height in the neighborhood.

Finance Department records indicate the Watchtower purchased the buildings in 1969 from pharmaceutical giant E.R. Squibb & Sons in a package deal that also included 25-30 Columbia Heights.

According to an old U.S. Senate report we found online, a manufacturer of lithographic printer’s ink called Berger & Wirth was located at 58 Columbia Heights during World War I.

* 55 Furman St.: The third red-brick industrial building in the Watchtower’s headquarters complex is 55 Furman St. It is situated behind 50 Columbia Heights and is right across the street from the Pierhouse site.

The Watchtower also bought 55 Furman in its 1969 package deal with Squibb, Finance Department records show.

An automotive trade directory published in 1906 says a manufacturer called Morgan Motor Co. was located at 55 Furman St. at that time.

* 67 Furman St.: The Jehovah’s Witnesses currently use the land at 67 Furman St. as a parking lot. It’s located next to 55 Furman St.

A 1983 sale contract we found in Finance Department records indicates the Watchtower promised to pay seller Eve Lenti $235,000 for 67 Furman St. The Watchtower closed on the purchase in 1984. The property had a building on it at that time.  

In 1992, the Jehovah’s Witnesses received the Buildings Department’s approval to demolish the building, which was two stories tall and had one residential unit.

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