Last Week’s Announcement of Six Buildings For Sale in Heights

May Have Prompted Rumors, Spokesperson Says

Brooklyn Daily Eagle/May 3, 2007
By Linda Collins

A rumor reported yesterday to the Brooklyn Eagle that Watchtower will not build the controversial four-tower development at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO is not true.

Richard Devine, a spokesperson for the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, also known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, denied there was any truth to the rumor.

The rumor was first printed on the blog, in a summary of the 85 Jay project, as follows: “The Watchtower Society has decided not to build the complex, instead continuing the gradual transfer of its facilities to upstate New York.”

“Nothing has really changed regarding 85 Jay. The reported sale of the buildings may have prompted the rumor,” said Devine, referring to last week’s article in the Eagle containing the announcement that six Watchtower residential buildings in Brooklyn Heights were available for sale.

The society got its final go-ahead from the City Council in December 2004 for the Jay Street project. It is comprised of four towers — two nine story towers facing Front and Bridge Streets and two 20-story towers facing Jay and York Streets — to accommodate about 1,000 apartments, plus a large assembly hall and underground parking for an estimated 1,100 cars.

Local neighborhood organizations, the borough president and several City Council members opposed it because of its bulk, height, potential truck traffic and lack of street-level retail.

Devine said at the time that the religious organization had no specific development timetable in mind.

Currently, the 3-acre property is used by the society as a parking lot, needed to accommodate employee vehicles — particularly because the organization vacated its waterfont parking lot adjacent to Pier 5 (next to its former shipping complex at 360 Furman St.) and release it for Brooklyn Bridge Park development.

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