Last looks at the Jehovah’s Witnesses sign Kushner Cos. plans to remove

Eye on Real Estate: Sign on former Brooklyn Heights Watchtower HQ is going, going, gone

September 27, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Get a good look at the Watchtower sign while you can. One of these days, it will be gone. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Oh, that fine red glow.

When it’s gone, we will miss it so.

The red Watchtower sign’s days are numbered.

The company Jared Kushner headed until he stepped aside to serve as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, plans to remove the sign from the former headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn Heights.

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The sign has been a Brooklyn waterfront icon since the religious group installed it after its 1969 purchase of the buildings at 25-30 Columbia Heights. The glowing red sign, which also tells the time and temperature, is a beacon to people in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the Brooklyn Bridge and in Lower Manhattan.

The sign it replaced had said “Squibb,” the previous property owner’s name.

The Watchtower sign was neon until the Jehovah’s Witnesses switched over to energy-saving LEDs — meaning light-emitting diodes — to illuminate the 15-foot-tall letters in 2009.

The Watchtower sign’s fans have been anxiously eying it since June, when the city Buildings Department approved an application by Kushner Cos. and its joint-venture partners for permission to “remove all individual letters from existing sign” at 25-30 Columbia Heights.

The framework of the sign will remain, the Buildings Department filing indicates. It’s not yet known whose name will replace the word “Watchtower.”

Because the Watchtower sign could be dismantled at any moment, we’ve snapped some photos to serve as keepsakes.

Night and day, in foul weather and fair, the sign is so fine.

Jehovah’s Witnesses sold HQ as part of property-liquidation campaign

By the way, the joint-venture partners that share ownership of 25-30 Columbia Heights with Kushner Cos. are CIM Group and LIVWRK.

The joint venture is called Columbia Heights Associates. The joint venture’s publicists insist that this name be used in stories about the property.

The new owners are converting the buildings into a Class-A office development with stores and public space for arts and culture. The redeveloped property will be called Panorama.

The joint venture purchased the former Watchtower headquarters complex for $340 million in August 2016, city Finance Department records indicate.

The sale was part of a years-long effort by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to liquidate their once-vast real estate portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.

The religious group is still in the process of selling off its properties in the two neighborhoods because it has moved its headquarters to the upstate New York town of Warwick.

Kushner Cos. and various investment partners have paid the Watchtower around $1 billion for Brooklyn property purchases.

They also bought 85 Jay St., a massive parking lot in DUMBO with about 1 million square feet of development rights.

And they purchased a cluster of former Bible-printing plants on Adams, Pearl, Prospect and Sands streets in DUMBO that they’ve transformed into a techie-friendly office complex called Dumbo Heights.

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