Watchtower site may soon be up for sale

Lofty Vision for Building

Daily News/June 23, 2003
By Melissa Grace

A giant waterfront building owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn Heights could soon go on the block - with an early estimated price tag of $120 million.

The potential sale of the nearly 1 million-square-foot building at 360 Furman St., a structure that many expect would be converted to luxury lofts, has local Realtors abuzz.

Some 400 to 500 condominium apartments could have views of Brooklyn, Manhattan, New York Harbor and the East River.

"The potential gross sellout price as condos could be half a billion dollars," said one appraiser, who asked that his name not be used.

"Some of the top apartments will have 180-degree views, from the East River to the Verrazano Narrows [Bridge]," he said. "Those could sell for $4 million to $5 million."

Melinda Magnett, president of the Brooklyn Corcoran Group, said a low asking price of $50 million would set off a bidding war.

" Waterfront properties are in demand," she said, adding that a $50 million tag is "hypothetical - they might end up selling the building for a lot more."

Realtors said that between DUMBO and Red Hook, there is nothing else quite like the structure, which eventually will be surrounded by the planned 67-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Realtors compared the potential condo conversion of 360 Furman St. to the successful 126-unit conversion done at the Clock Tower at 1 Main St.

Apartments in the DUMBO building are now selling for between $500 and $625 a square foot and have appreciated as much as 40% from the original 1998 sale prices, said Domenick Neglia of Neglia Appraisals Inc. in Dyker Heights.

Witnesses shift

Built in 1928, the 12-story warehouse at 360 Furman St. sits between Atlantic Ave. and Joralemon St. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, also known as Jehovah's Witnesses, purchased it 20 years ago.

The society used the building as its principal shipping facility for Bibles and publications - and has for years been plagued by community complaints of truck pollution and noise.

Last fall, the Jehovah's Witnesses decided to shift the shipping facility to their Wallkill, N.Y., center and other facilities around the world, said Daniel Rice, a spokesman for the group.

Of selling 360 Furman St., Rice said, "We don't need it any more."

While the group - one of Brooklyn Heights' largest property owners - posted a press release on its Web site announcing the potential sale, the building is not formally on the market.

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