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City will allow Brooklyn’s iconic Watchtower sign to be replaced

After a back-and-forth battle between property owners and the Department of Buildings, a new sign will soon be installed

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The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals handed down a decision that will allow the new owners of the former Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower building to replace the iconic sign.

For more than 40 years, the Watchtower sign atop of 30 Columbia Heights made its mark on the Brooklyn Heights skyline, but all that changed last December, when the red letters were removed, leaving behind just the time-and-temperature clock that accompanied it. The Columbia Heights Associates (the consortium of developers that purchased the building complex) sought permission from the Department of Buildings to replace the sign, but were denied after the department determined that it was never legal in the first place.

Lawyers for the Columbia Heights Associates dug up DOB documents from 1961, indicating that pharmaceutical company E.R. Squibb & Sons, which occupied the building before selling it to Jehovah’s Witnesses, received a permit to install its sign. Meanwhile, the DOB admitted to having limited availability of old agency records on its end.

Now that the path has been cleared for a new sign to crown the development, it’s unclear what will come next, but the New York Post reports that the building’s major anchor would get to brand the building. In the meantime, developers will opt for a placeholder with something generic like “DUMBO” or “I (heart) Brooklyn” until tenants are announced.