Jehovah's Witnesses Plan Exodus from Brooklyn Heights

Gothamist, New York/February 23, 2010

After nearly a century in Brooklyn Heights, Jehovah's Witnesses are abandoning their official headquarters in favor of new digs upstate. Currently the offices of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society occupy two large buildings at 25 and 30 Columbia Heights, right by the promenade. Their new property will hold 850 people, and it will be Green! "Yes, it will be sustainable. In fact, we’re shooting for a LEED Gold designation on this one," Richard Devine, the religious group's real estate manager told the Eagle. But what about all that other property Jehovah's Witnesses own in Brooklyn Heights?

For more than five years the group-best known for its bible printing and cater waiter outfits-has been selling off its millions of dollars worth of Brooklyn Heights real estate piece by piece. That includes 169 Columbia Heights, also known as the Standish Arms, which sold for $50 million in 2007 and 360 Furman Street, which was bought up in 2004 for $205 million, among many others. But they're not done yet. "We have eight smaller buildings [in Brooklyn Heights] we have yet to sell," Devine said in 2009. "Because of the market we are not actively promoting their sale. We’ve even started using the Bossert [Hotel] again on a limited basis," he added referring to another Watchtower-owned landmark on Montague Street.

With Jehovah's Witnesses clearing out, real estate developers are sure to take an interest in the area where they prayed, printed and proselytized-especially considering its prime location between DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn. Already, 360 Furman houses a luxury development (One Brooklyn Bridge Park) and 67 Livingston, another property formerly owned by the Witnesses, is home to NYU dorms.

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