Watchtower Properties in Dumbo?

Prospect Street

There was an article in the NY Times about the Jehovah’s Witnesses listing eight of their prime properties in Brooklyn Heights in the past month. As part of the Witnesses plans to move their operations to upstate New York, they have started listing more of their buildings in Brooklyn. They sold several large buildings in the past 6-7 years. A few key properties sold or being sold (aside from the buildings sold on the Brooklyn Bridge Park property):

  • 360 Furman Street, sold in 2004 for $205 million, was converted to the luxury condo, One Brooklyn Bride Park.
  • 169 Columbia Heights, a former 12 story hotel known as Standish Arms in 2007 for $50 million.
  • 161 and 183 Columbia Heights were sold as a package.
  • 165 Columbia Heights
  • 105 Willow Street
  • 34 Orange Street
  • The Bossert, a former 14-story hotel at 98 Montague St has been on the market since 2008.
  • 89 Hicks Streeet, built in 1940, has 48 units and was purchased by Brooklyn Law School in 2006 for $14 million.
  • 67 Livingston Street sold to NYU in 2006 for $18.6 million

The most recent listings include the following:

These are all in Brooklyn Heights. But what about the properties in Dumbo? Why aren’t they on the market yet, writes a reader who emailed us:

“I am wondering if you know anything about the Watchtower properties located here in Dumbo. According to a NY Times article from this past weekend, there are several prime properties in Brooklyn Heights that will be sold by the society.”

“However, as long as I have lived in Dumbo I have never heard of any mention of their properties in Dumbo. For example, the tennis court building on Front Street, the huge empty lot near the F train subway station, the big building behind the Bagel shop on Front St, and the loft warehouses on Prospect Street. Do you know if the society has any future plans to sell these now that they are moving upstate? Just curious. If yes, this could spur yet another wave of huge transformation for Dumbo.”

We understand that several of the former printing press buildings on Sands Street are empty and the lot on 85 Jay Street is used as a parking lot. Our guess is a combination of economics and logistics – moving that many buildings and people to divest their Brooklyn properties will not happen overnight. The Dumbo properties could also continue to rise in value as more residents move in and infrastructure is fixed, so it makes sense to wait it out. What do you think?

{Holy Moly: Watchtower Continues to Divest in the Heights, 19Aug2011, Brownstoner}
{A Century of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 28Apr2010, BK Eagle}
{The Watchtower Moving Some Operations from Brooklyn, 26Mar2009}
{Where’s the Tennis Court in Dumbo?, 10May2007}
{Jehovah’s Witness Buildings Could Offset Brooklyn Bridge Park Costs, 08Oct2010}
{Watchtower Plans on Moving Out of Brooklyn, 24Feb2010}
{‘Mysterious’ 85 Jay Street Activity?, 30Jan2008}
{Glimpse Inside Jehovah’s Witness Headquarters, 16Nov2006}

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