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Opportunity knocks! Jehovah’s Witnesses selling old Brooklyn Heights hotel

Golden opportunity: The Jehovah’s Witnesses have put their massive 295-unit Clark Street property on the market.
Brooklyn Paper
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They’re finally checking out!

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are selling an opulent old hotel at Clark and Willow streets — one of the few buildings left in the church’s portfolio of pricey Brooklyn Heights properties. And with the structure’s sweeping views of the East River, former residents say they’ve saved one of the best till last.

“You simply can’t get a more beautiful location,” said Richard Devine, a spokesman for the outfit’s property hawking offshoot Watchtower Realty, who lived in the building between Clark and Pineapple streets for 10 years.

The 16-story building dates back to the late 1920s, when it was called the Leverich Towers Hotel — a luxury lodging where Dodgers players stayed during home games.

Architectural firm Starrett and Van Vleck designed the castle-like facade, the same firm behind the most recent Downtown Macy’s — nee Abraham and Straus — building.

The Witnesses bought the building for a little under $2 million in 1975 and have since renovated it to include 295 studio and one-bedroom units, where members used to live.

Whoever buys the property is unlikely to turn it back into a hotel, as that wouldn’t be allowed under the current zoning, but Devine says the property is more likely to end up as rentals or condos for busy young people who don’t mind living in close quarters.

“There’s often a market for smaller units especially for young profession­als,” he said.

The sect has been selling off the many buildings it has accrued in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo since moving there in 1909, ahead of its relocation to upstate New York next year.

This is the third old hotel it has put on the block — it sold the Standish Arms on Columbia Heights for $50 million in 2007 and the Bossert on Montague Street for $81 million in 2012.

The Standish is now being turned into condos, while the Bossert will soon be a hotel once again.

The company is also in the midst of unloading its massive main office building on Columbia Heights and a huge empty residential lot at Jay and Front streets. Donald Trump’s son-in-law, developer Jared Kushner, reportedly has a handshake deal to buy the pair.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 3:58 am, May 26, 2016
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