Witnesses put prime Dumbo site on block

The zoning would allow for a development of up to 150,000 square feet of hotel or residential project. The group still owns nearly 3 million square feet of property in the area.

Crain's, New York/June 4, 2012

The Jehovah's Witnesses is selling one of its highly coveted development sites in Dumbo, Brooklyn, less than a week after unloading an East Village property. This is another indication that the group will be vacating the complex of buildings in the Brooklyn Heights area that has been its home for nearly 100 years as it shifts operations upstate.

Three contiguous parcels totaling 30,463 square feet, with the addresses of 173 and 177 Front streets and 200 Water Street, are up for grabs, according to Cushman & Wakefield, which was retained by the Witnesses to sell the property. The development site can hold a development of up to 150,000 square feet. The new owner can build a residential, hotel or community development on the site, according to the brokerage firm.

A spokesman for the Witnesses did not comment. Cushman said a team of Helen Hwang, Nat Rockett, Steve Kohn and Karen Wiedenmann is marketing the site.

Currently, a three-story warehouse stands at 200 Water Street, between Jay and Bridge streets, within Dumbo's historic district, according to Cushman.

Most of the Witnesses' Brooklyn properties have been snatched up fairly quickly as they hit the market. In April, the last of three properties in Brooklyn Heights that Massey Knakal Realty Services had been hired to sell last year for the Witnesses, sold for $6.6 million. Most recently, in May, developer David Bistricer bought the landmarked Hotel Bossert in Brooklyn Heights at 98 Montague from the Witnesses. Mr. Bistricer plans to convert it back to a hotel, according to published reports.

Up until now, the Witnesses has only been selling its pristine properties, not its empty lots. The Witnesses still owns roughly 3 million square feet of property and land in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. Major developers have expressed interest in the Witnesses' vast holdings with an eye on future residential development in these prime Brooklyn neighborhoods.

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