Witnesses see E. Village property sale coming

The Brooklyn-based religious group puts one of its 10 meeting halls on the market. The move follows the sale of several small residential properties near its headquarters in advance of a planned relocation upstate.

Crain's, New York/May 30, 2012

The Jehovah's Witnesses is unloading another piece of property in the city, this time a Kingdom Hall—a place of worship for the group—in Manhattan's East Village.

The 3,050-square-foot, two-story property located at 67 Avenue C, at 5th Street, is up for grabs, according to Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, which was retained to market the building on behalf of the Witnesses. There is no asking price on the 24-foot-wide property, which will be listed for sale this week. It is one of the Brooklyn-based religious group's 10 meeting halls. The site is zoned for a residential property of up to 10,000 square feet.

"We have seen tremendous new development in this neighborhood over the past 10 years," said Mr. Knakal, who is working with colleague Michael DeCheser on the listing. "I am sure this property will be highly sought after by smaller residential developers."

A spokesman for the Witnesses could not be reached immediately for comment.

The Witnesses have owned 67 Avenue C for nearly 50 years, according to Propertyshark.com. Public city records show the group taking a $27,000 mortgage out for the property. According to the Witnesses website, there are nine other Kingdom Halls in Manhattan. "This is the first Kingdom Hall in the city that I'm aware of that is for sale," said Mr. Knakal.

Since last year, the group has been slowly putting its properties up for sale in advance of a planned move from its long-time home near the Brooklyn Heights waterfront to upstate New York community of Warwick. Earlier this year, Massey Knakal represented the group in the sale of three of its Brooklyn Heights residential properties for a total of $16.7 million. Two of those properties, 161 Columbia Heights and 50 Orange St., were bought by Sugar Hill Capital Partners and the third, 183 Columbia Heights, was acquired by an investor group that plans to turn the seven-story elevator apartment building into a luxury rental.

The Witnesses still own nearly 30 buildings in Brooklyn Heights comprising a total of roughly 3 million square feet. None of those have yet been put on the block.

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