DUMBO

Report: Kushner Cos. sells stakes in Brooklyn Heights’ Watchtower headquarters and DUMBO development site

June 6, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This is the former Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn Heights. Kushner Cos. reportedly sold its stake in the property. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Bye bye, Kushner Cos.

Buy buy, CIM Group.

Kushner Cos., which was headed by Jared Kushner until he became senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, has sold its ownership stakes in two big Brooklyn properties that had belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The real estate firm unloaded its stakes in the Watchtower’s former world headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights and massive residential development site 85 Jay St. in DUMBO, the New York Post reported.

The purchaser in both cases was CIM Group, which is the majority owner of both properties, the Post said.

No record of the transactions has appeared as of yet in online city Finance Department records. So the Brooklyn Eagle could not verify how much money Kushner Cos. received in the transactions.

Sources told the Post that Kushner Cos. would at least have gotten back the sum it had paid in the original property purchases, which would have been an estimated $17.125 million.

That sounds like a small sum of money — expensive houses cost more.

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But that’s the estimate because Kushner Cos. held just a 2.5 percent stake in each property, the Post reported.  

Despite its small monetary investment, the company played a crucial role in redeveloping 25-30 Columbia Heights. Until recently, Kushner Cos. employees signed city Buildings Department filings for the project.

Kushner Cos.’ name does not appear on the marketing website for 25-30 Columbia Heights, which is now called Panorama. The website identifies CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings as the only joint-venture partners that comprise ownership group Columbia Heights Associates.  

Spokesmen for Kushner Cos. and CIM Group did not immediately respond to the Eagle’s questions about the transactions.

 

Kushner Cos. Still Co-Owns DUMBO Heights Complex
Even after these reported sales, Kushner Cos. remains a major owner of DUMBO property it had purchased from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Kushner Cos. and investor partner RFR bought a cluster of former Bible-printing plants and a former hotel on Adams, Pearl, Prospect and Sands streets from the Watchtower for $375 million in 2013.

The developers renovated the former factories and turned them into an office complex for techies and new-economy companies called DUMBO Heights.

Last year, RFR completed the purchase of the former hotel at 90 Sands St. without Kushner Cos. as its partner.

Kushner Cos. and its investor partners got the opportunity to buy about $1 billion worth of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO real estate from the Jehovah’s Witnesses because the religious group engaged in a long-running campaign to liquidate its Brooklyn property portfolio.

That’s because the Watchtower relocated its world headquarters to upstate Warwick, N.Y. The organization’s real estate sell-off efforts are now nearing completion.

An Office Complex Called Panorama

Kushner Cos., CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings bought 25-30 Columbia Heights for $340 million in 2016, Finance Department records indicate.

The five-building former Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters has frontage on Furman Street at the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park.  

The complex had been considered a real estate icon because of the glowing red sign on its roof that said “WATCHTOWER” in 15-foot letters and also told the time and temperature. The sign, which was made of energy-saving light-emitting diode lights, was visible from the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan.

In December, the letters that spelled out “Watchtower” were removed from the complex. The Jehovah’s Witnesses put the letters in storage in upstate New York.

At that time, Asher Abehsera of Columbia Heights Associates told the Eagle through a spokesman that the joint venture had “an opportunity to bring a new beacon to the Brooklyn skyline.”

He didn’t say what name would replace the Watchtower’s on the sign.

A rendering now posted outside the complex depicts a new glowing red sign that says “PANORAMA.”

Renovation is well underway at the property — whose golden-hued exterior is being painted a pale shade of blue.

Panorama will have 635,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of retail space and more than 20 terraces with a total of 55,000 square feet of outdoor space, Columbia Heights Associates’ website says.

 

Residential Construction at 85 Jay St.

Site prep is underway at the parking lot at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO.

Kushner Cos. bought the site with CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings for $345 million in 2016, Finance Department records show.

The full-block site, which is zoned as of right for residential construction, has frontage on Jay, York, Bridge and Front streets.

In May, the joint-venture partners posted a schematic drawing for their planned 21-story development on the site’s construction fence.

The development will have 732 apartments, 727 parking spaces, commercial space and amenities including two swimming pools.

This schematic drawing can be found on the construction fence at 85 Jay St. 

 

 

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