Watchtower buildings: Where are they now?

From evangelism to tech evangelism, change afoot in Dumbo
Watch this space: The former headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is set to become a tech complex.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

It has been eight years since the Jehovah’s Witnesses began selling off its massive portfolio of Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights real estate to prepare for its exodus upstate. What have those buildings been up to in the intervening years? The Brooklyn Paper investigates.

Dumbo Heights

In the Witnesses’ largest sale, Real estate mogul Jared Kushner bought five towers in the area bound by Adams, High, and Jay streets and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway for $375 million in 2013, which his company is turning into a giant office complex connected by skyways that it is calling Dumbo Heights, but this paper prefers to think of as “Brooklyn’s Minneapolis.

Co-working outfit We Work has already set up shop in one building and will soon be joined by others including online craft e-tailer Etsy. A host of food and retail companies will fill the ground-floor spaces — including burrito chain Dos Toros, coffee house Bluestone Lane, and bike repair shop Bike Smith, according to a Daily News report.

Kushner has inked a deal for a sixth neighboring building which is slated to become a 600-room hotel in conjunction with boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, who plans on including a nightclub, giant indoor swimming pool, and a rotating rooftop restaurant a la the Rainbow Room.

New boss-ert: The Witnesses sold Brooklyn Heights' historic Bossert Hotel for $81 million.
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

The Bossert Hotel

The church sold the 106-year-old Montague Street building — once known as Brooklyn’s Waldorf-Astoria — to developers David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit for $81 million in 2012, and the pair promised to turn it back into a hotel. This paper revealed in September that Argentina’s Fen Hotels is slated to operate the historic lodge but the slow-moving construction remains ever so.

The Standish Arms Hotel

Taurus Investment Holdings first bought this 1903 Beaux Arts building on Columbia Heights for $50 million in 2007, and turned it into 94 luxury apartments. Taurus then sold it to Westbrook Partners for $60 million in June last year. The building remains best known as the home of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent and also the site of Willy Loman’s affair in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

One Brooklyn Bridge Park

The first of several developments in privately-run Brooklyn Bridge Park, developer Robert Levine bought this hulking waterfront printing factory at 360 Furman St. for an undisclosed sum in 2004 and turned it into a 440-unit condo building. The building’s board now makes all resident dog owners register their pooch’s DNA so it can find and fine those who don’t pick up their pup’s poop.

Brillo Factory

Developer Shelly Listokin paid $30.6 million for 200 Water St. along with two neighboring buildings in 2013 and transformed the space into luxury condominiums. The building — which once churned out steel wool scouring pads — now features Siberian white-oak flooring and built-in wine coolers, and available units are priced between $2.4 million and $4.4 million.

Standish tall: The Standish Arms Hotel has changed hands twice, and is now a luxury apartment building.
The Brooklyn Paper / Gregory P. Mango

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.

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