The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, a major landowner in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, has netted a whopping $50 million for the Standish Arms Hotel, a Columbia Heights building that will be turned into luxury rentals, the new owner says.
The building, formerly a residence hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses who worked for the society’s printing and distribution businesses, was bought by Boston-based Taurus Investment Holdings last week.
The 12-story building will be converted into about 100 apartments, with two-bedroom units starting at $3,600, one bedrooms from $2,800, and studios at $2,000.
The upper floors have unobstructed views of Lower Manhattan — a selling point, said Patrick McGrath, a managing partner with Taurus’ New York Office.
“That was really what drew us to the property,” he said.
The anticipated rents are comparable to other new properties in the neighborhood, experts said.
“The prices are very fair given the amazing views and the prestige of living in Brooklyn Heights,” said Alice Shevchuk, marketing director for Awaye Realty, the leasing agent for Standish Arms. Shevchuk added that many of the apartments have already been rehabbed and are available now.
The sale of the 1903 hotel is the first step in the Witnesses’ ongoing move away from the Heights, where the sect has had a presence since 1909, when it established printing and distribution operations for its Bible translations.
The 128-unit Beaux-Arts hotel building at 169 Columbia Heights was one of the Witnesses’ 18 Brooklyn Heights properties — and one of six sites that were put on the market earlier this year.
Over the past few years, the Witnesses have been relocating those operations to upstate Walkill.
The purchase of the Standish Arms is Taurus’s first buy in New York — but it won’t be the last, McGrath said.
“We’re excited about making investments in Brooklyn because of its dynamic environment in terms of all the development that is happening now as well as the developments that are planned for the future,” he said. “We think the future of Brooklyn is very bright.”
And if the name of the building sounds familiar, remember that Clark Kent, of Superman fame, was said to have lived in apartment 5H of the Standish Arms Hotel (though that hotel was in Metropolis, not Brooklyn).