Brooklyn Heights

Jehovah’s Witnesses put former Brooklyn Heights hotel up for sale

May 24, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to The Towers, AKA 21 Clark St., a Brooklyn Heights Historic District property the Jehovah's Witnesses are offering for sale. Photo courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses

Attention nostalgic Brooklyn Dodgers fans!

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are selling the former Brooklyn Heights hotel where the forever-missed baseball team stayed during home games.

The Watchtower has just announced it is putting The Towers, also known as 21 Clark St., up for sale.

The Dodgers, who in the 1950s infamously left Brooklyn for Elsewhere (to this day, some of us find this trauma hard to write about), used the hotel as their home base, so to speak.

The 313,768-square-foot, 16-story building is now a residence for the Jehovah’s Witnesses — but not for much longer.

The religious organization is liquidating its once-massive Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO real-estate holdings because it is moving its headquarters to upstate Warwick, NY.

The Leverich Towers Hotel, as 21 Clark was originally known, had its grand opening in 1928. The architecture firm was Starrett & Van Vleck — which also designed Saks Fifth Avenue’s and Lord & Taylor’s high-profile Manhattan flagship stores.

“When you walk the streets of Brooklyn Heights and come alongside The Towers, the elegance of the building commands your attention,” Watchtower spokesman David Semonian said in the announcement about the building’s sale.

“Yet beyond the beauty that we have worked hard to tastefully preserve, The Towers has been a comfortable home for members of our headquarters staff for decades,” he said.

‘The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels’

The former hotel, which is located on the corner of Willow Street, is located in the landmarked part of Brooklyn Heights. So a purchaser is likely to leave the exterior of the stunning building — which has colonnaded, Venetian-style towers gracing its four corners — largely intact.

In the property’s early days, it was advertised as “The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels.”

A rooftop terrace with knockout views of Lower Manhattan, New York Harbor and the Brooklyn Bridge that helped give the hotel its cachet remains intact.

In 1975, the Watchtower bought the magnificent building for $1,992,229.08 from a trust with Leo Rosner and Philip Robbins as trustees, city Finance Department records indicate.

Following the purchase, the Watchtower turned the hotel into a residence and dining hall for more than 1,000 people who worked at the organization’s world headquarters.

Another Watchtower spokesman, Richard Devine, said the Jehovah’s Witnesses were expanding their printing plants at that time and needed space to accommodate increasing numbers of personnel.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses did a more extensive renovation of The Towers starting in 1995, Devine added.

The Watchtower has been working for the past several years to sell off its Brooklyn real estate portfolio. The latest round of marketing started this past December.

Vincent Viola, the owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team, recently bought Brooklyn Heights residential property 124 Columbia Heights for $105 million.

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has a handshake deal to buy the Watchtower’s Brooklyn Heights headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights plus DUMBO development site 85 Jay St. for roughly $700 million, the New York Post has reported.