Jared Kushner’s in a $340 million joint-venture purchase of the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters

Donald Trump's son-in-law clinched a deal for Brooklyn Heights complex with red neon “Watchtower” sign

August 5, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hark! The Jehovah's Witnesses have closed on the $340 million sale of their Brooklyn Heights headquarters, seen here from the shoreline of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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When will the red neon sign cease to shine forth with the “Watchtower” name?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have closed on the $340 million sale of their Brooklyn Heights headquarters, with its iconic neon sign that can be seen from the Lower Manhattan shoreline.

The buyer is a joint venture that includes a company run by Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“We’re always looking to raise the bar for how today’s top companies want to work, and this property will set a new standard,” Kushner said in an announcement issued on Thursday about his plans for newly purchased 25-30 Columbia Heights.

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His real estate firm, the Kushner Companies, and joint-venture partners CIM Group and LIVWRK plan to renovate the 739,000-square-foot property and turn it into an office campus.

The other buildings in the headquarters complex are 50 and 58 Columbia Heights and 55 Furman St.

As for that famous neon sign, a spokesman for Kushner Companies declined comment when the Brooklyn Eagle asked whether it will continue to say “Watchtower” until the new owners nail down a big-name tenant whose name deserves to be in lights.

The complex, which the Watchtower has owned for decades, is located outside Brooklyn Heights’ landmarked district. The religious organization purchased the buildings from pharmaceutical giant E.R. Squibb & Sons.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been an important presence in Brooklyn Heights for a century.

They put their headquarters up for sale this past December as part of a long-running effort to liquidate their real estate holdings in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO — because they’re in the process of moving to upstate Warwick, N.Y.    

The purchasers issued their announcement following a report on Thursday by the Real Deal about the blockbuster transaction.

The announcement made no mention of the $340 million sale price. A source close to the deal confirmed for the Eagle that the figure is correct. It was first reported in the Real Deal’s story.  

The property deeds, which will indicate the price paid, have not yet surfaced in city Finance Department records. Usually there’s a lapse of several days between transaction closings and the deeds’ appearance in the department’s online records.

When will 85 Jay St.’s sale close?

Kushner, who is the CEO of Kushner Companies, is married to Ivanka Trump, who is Donald Trump’s daughter. According to the New York Times, Kushner has been helping his father-in-law with his Presidential campaign.

The Kushner Companies reportedly also has a handshake deal to purchase an important development site at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are selling.

The full-block site, now used as a parking lot, is located near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. It has nearly 1 million square feet of development rights — and is zoned for residential use.

When the Watchtower put 85 Jay St. up for sale this past December, a news bulletin from the religious organization called it “one of Brooklyn’s largest undeveloped sites.”

In 2013, Kushner Companies, LIVWRK and real estate investment firm RFR paid the Watchtower $375 million for a package of properties on Adams, Pearl, Prospect and Sands streets in DUMBO.

The new owners have turned the former Bible-printing plants into a modern office campus they call DUMBO Heights.

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