Brooklyn Heights

The Jehovah’s Witnesses make a deal to sell 107 Columbia Heights

Buyer of prime Brooklyn Heights residential property also owns the Hotel Bossert

February 15, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Amen and hallelujah: The Jehovah's Witnesses have made a deal to sell 107 Columbia Heights. Photos courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses
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The Jehovah’s Witnesses have made a deal to sell one of the crown jewels in their remaining Brooklyn Heights real estate portfolio.

The buyer is a publicly traded company headed by real estate investor David Bistricer — to whom the Watchtower sold Brooklyn Heights’ Hotel Bossert in 2012.

A company of which Bistricer is the founder, co-chairman and chief executive officer, Clipper Realty Inc., announced on Wednesday it has made an agreement to purchase 107 Columbia Heights for $87.5 million.

According to the announcement, the agreed-upon purchase price works out to $569 per square foot for the approximately 154,000-square-foot residential building’s acquisition — which is expected to close in May.

The developer is making plans to add 12 additional apartments to the 161-unit residential building by remodeling “various public areas” at 107 Columbia Heights, the announcement said.

The 102-foot tall Columbia Heights building was constructed in 1959, before the Brooklyn Heights Historic District was created and height limitations were imposed on new construction in the neighborhood. The building’s height cannot be replicated in the landmarked neighborhood today.

The gated, L-shaped 11-story building has a landscaped courtyard  — and killer views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan skyline and New York Harbor.

It has frontage on Orange Street, where it faces another Watchtower property that is still for sale, 97 Columbia Heights. And massive 107 Columbia Heights also has frontage on Willow Street — on the same block as 70 Willow St., which is known to tourists and literature lovers as the historic home where Truman Capote lived when he worked on “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood.”  

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Another step in liquidating the Watchtower’s Brooklyn property portfolio
A Watchtower spokesman told the Brooklyn Eagle via email that he can’t comment on “the progress of our sales process due to confidentiality agreements and out of respect for potential buyers.”

The pending deal to sell 107 Columbia Heights is yet another step forward in the Watchtower’s campaign to liquidate its once vast real estate holdings in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.

After being an important presence in Brooklyn Heights for a century, the religious organization is selling off its properties because it has moved its world headquarters out of the neighborhood to upstate Warwick, N.Y.

In its announcement about 107 Columbia Heights, Clipper Realty Inc., which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, said it expects to finance the purchase with “property-level mortgage indebtedness and cash-on-hand.”

The company owns and manages a portfolio of Manhattan and Brooklyn properties.

Bistricer bought the Bossert for $81 million through Clipper Equity, a company of which he is the chairman and chief executive officer, in partnership with the Chetrit Group.

The developers have been working on a long-running project to turn the landmarked property at 98 Montague St. into an upscale boutique hotel.

The Watchtower had used the Bossert to provide free lodging for its members who were visiting the religious organization’s world headquarters.

In its heyday, the Bossert was a hangout for debutantes and baseball players. The Brooklyn Dodgers celebrated their 1955 World Series victory over the New York Yankees with a blowout party there.  

Bistricer did not respond to a query from the Eagle Wednesday about when the Bossert will reopen.

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