Real Deal on Watchtower Properties

The Real Deal looks at the Watchtower’s Brooklyn Heights real estate holdings and speculates how much the organization could make once it decides to put its remaining properties here on the market:

The Real Deal: Over the next decades, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, as it is officially known, bought up some incredibly valuable real estate as its operation expanded. Today, the organization’s portfolio totals 25 Brooklyn properties — brownstones, Beaux Arts multifamilies, modern high-rises and parking lots — that are said to be worth at least $1 billion.

But the Heights’ largest landlord may soon be its biggest property seller. Continuing a trend that started in 2004, when the Witnesses sold a warehouse that became the condo One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the group has been steadily downsizing in order to relocate upstate.

Indeed, the Witnesses have built a new printing plant in Wallkill in upstate New York, and an educational center across the river in Patterson. It’s also planning an $11.5 million facility in Warwick. If that proposal gets a green light and market conditions improve, a slew of properties in Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn and Dumbo could soon change hands.

A nice spread detailing the properties after the jump:


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  • David G.

    What will happen to the secret tunnels connecting the properties?

  • Donald Brennan

    $1B, what’s that on a per square foot basis? Anyone?

  • Homer Fink

    In any event, I smell “Homer Fink’s All Along the Watchtower” Walking Tour…

    who’s with me?!

  • Donald Brennan

    I’m in.
    Btw – are they really a landlord or just a property owner?

  • Andrew Porter

    In a sense, they’re neither. Because they both own and occupy their properties, they’re no one’s landlord, nor merely the owners of the property, with someone else in occupancy.

  • 1ifbyrain2if bytrain

    Dear landlord
    Please heed these words that I speak
    I know you’ve suffered much
    But in this you are not so unique
    All of us, at times, we might work too hard
    To have it too fast and too much
    And anyone can fill his life up
    With things he can see but he just cannot touch

  • Ben

    Brennen, and Porter,
    A company named Fine Times that owns a number of properties in Brooklyn Heights has a few Watchtower people who are partners or employees. Fine Times bought a number of derilict properties and made an attempt to clean them up and turn them around I hope that they were successful but who knows they bought high at the boom then the crash who knows how thing went? I THINK Fine Times is a part of the Jehovah Witnesses.

  • Donald Brennan

    Ben – interesting. I didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing.

    I think the last sentence in paragraph 3 is not accurate. Quite a few vacant properties are currently being held off the market because of poor market conditions. Nothing to do with the upstate project being approved.

  • Ben

    Yes I have a few Heights addresses find me at
    I look foward to sharing them with you.

  • Ben

    Donald Brennan,
    For some more information about Fine Times find me at I can give you some names and adresses all public records

  • EHinBH

    Should there be any concern that one of the residential buildings could be turned in to low-income housing? Or would that be blocked?

  • Lou

    They will most certainly be converted to condos I would imagine. I look forward to the Watchtower being gone. But I wonder what the effect of having people who actually shop and use the neighborhood facilities living there will mean. I mean how many potential units could be added to the hood? And does the Watch Tower pay taxes on the properties now? I’m sure conversion of some of those apts would get them that tax abatement…

  • brooklynheightzer

    The end result of this will be SLIGHTLY depressed prices on the real estate in the Heights.

  • Ben

    EHinBH and Lou,

    I would like to see affordable housing for low to moderate income people but these Watchtower sales will be private enterprise and to the highest bidder. It would take a govenment, and the well-healed Brooklyn Heights Association and Heights and Hill Community Council members to create affordable housing in Brooklyn Heights but I do not think affordable housing is a priority? BHA and Heights & Hill are about Brownstones and House Tours not affordable housing.

    Lou, the effect of these sales to residents who shop, use schools, eat out in restaurants, etc. would be tremendous I can see the line at Lassen & Hennings. Watchtower residents dont buy anything – a few Watchtower rebels eat at Teresa’s once in a while and they stiff the waiter they do not belive in tips, they do not know what tipping the waiter is all about.

  • Obama

    It was most unfortunate the Watchtower chose Brooklyn Heights as their holy land in the first place.

    Good riddance!

  • Sick Of The WTS

    I wonder if the greedy and lucrative Watchtower will ever find it in their hearts to fund even ONE soup kitchen to feed the hungry today? Do you know they have NO charities at ALL to their name? A “Christian” religion following in Jesus’ footsteps? Hardly.

  • ABC

    I think many of these buildings are more suited to dorms than condos. Sorry to say.

  • Barry

    Good luck with the Watchtower. The way the trend is going Dumbo will turn into a ghetto day trip destination. Wanna spend $2 million to live in a ghetto? Try the Torrent for half the price!

  • Kim G.

    @Barry, this may be a stupid question but what do you mean about the DUMBO? We’re still new to BH and haven’t spent much time over there other than passing through. Does this have anything to do with the over-development and number of unsold properties? I just finished reading an article about the redevelopment of Metro-Tech…”old” Brooklyn/Downtown being replaced with steel and glass and it’s impact on the community. I believe the article was written in 2007. Just wondering