Today, a joint venture between big-name developers CIM Group, Kushner Companies, and LIVWRK announced the acquisition of the Jehovah's Witnesses watchtower building. Located at 25-30 Columbia Heights—and known for its iconic, red Watchtower sign—the building has long served as the Brooklyn Heights headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses. But the organization, which plans to move its headquarters to Warwick, New York, has spent years selling off the many properties it owns in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, and listed the Watchtower building late last year.
The Real Deal reported that the transaction is valued at $340 million, one of the largest ever deals closed in the borough. The 739,000-square-foot property, which occupies 2.3 acres, comprises five addresses: 25, 30, 50, and 58 Columbia Heights, along with 55 Furman Street. According to the developers, "The partnership intends to renovate and reposition the property into a world-class office campus."
For months there have been rumors that Kushner and LIVWRK would scoop up the headquarters, alongside a developable site at 85 Jay Street, for as much as $700 million. (The partnership was also supposed to include Aby Rosen's RFR Holdings but TRD hears that he is no longer involved.) While the team paid $340 million for the headquarters, they have yet to close on the 35,000-square-foot site at 85 Jay. That is likely to bring in big bucks: the parcel comes with 1.1 million square feet of as-of development rights, meaning they could build something like the supertall towers of 57th Street without a formal approval process.
Kushner and LIVWRK are no strangers to the Witnesses properties. Back in 2013, they paid $345 million for five buildings owned by the Witnesses and have since spent more than $100 million gut renovating them into a 1 million-square foot office campus known as Dumbo Heights.
Seems like the partnership has big plans for this iconic headquarters property—although no word whether or not the red sign, which is visible from the Brooklyn Bridge, will stay. "We're always looking to raise the bar for how today's top companies want to work, and this property will set a new standard," Jared Kushner, the CEO of Kushner Cos., said in a statement. "Over the next year, we'll begin transforming the property into one of the marquee urban office campuses anywhere in the country, let alone New York City."
- Kushner, CIM and LIVWRK close on Watchtower buy in Dumbo for $340M [TRD]
- Big-Name Developers Behind $700M Deal for Jehovah’s Witnesses Brooklyn HQ [Curbed]
- Jehovah's Witnesses List 'Watchtower' Headquarters in Dumbo [Curbed]