Reasons to Get Excited About Watchtower Property Sale

Crain’s NY Business writes about how our local electeds and others are already licking their chops over the potential buyers, uses and tax revenue resulting from the sale of the Watchtower properties in Brooklyn Heights.

Crain’s NY Business: “There is great potential here to transform the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president.
Even with the sale likely a few years away, he and others are dreaming big about what could be. For the city, the sales could return the holdings of the largest landlord in Brooklyn Heights and vicinity—the nonprofit Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the Witnesses’ business arm—to the city’s tax rolls. The move could net City Hall millions of dollars a year in revenue.
Meanwhile, backers of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park have already tentatively factored the sale of some of the Witnesses’ properties into the park’s long-range funding plans, and developers are eyeing the possibility of vast amounts of new housing and office space. The Witnesses themselves offer some other suggestions.
“These would be good for universities or a senior-housing operator,” said Richard Devine, a spokesman for the Witnesses, referring to half a dozen buildings linked by brightly lit, spotless tunnels that the Witnesses dug over the last 35 years.

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  • AEB

    Of utmost importance: the clock/weather indicator must remain.

  • Villager


  • Matthew Parker

    Great photo to accompany the blog! Can I blame my spotty Time Warner Internet service as a precursor to the impending Armageddon? I’d like to attribute some meaning to it.

  • BH’er

    Sounds like the owners are intent on transferring ownership to another tax-exempt entity…

    For the community’s sake, I hope our borough President and city hall plan to enforce a reasonable tax collection to help support the infrastructure and services this type of building (and its occupants) consume!

  • C.

    @ AEB:


  • Heightsman

    I second that, Tunnels??? That would be illegal no?

  • Danny Haszard

    Lets be fair …The Watchtower organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses got their billions fleecing the flock,now they are getting outta Dodge
    Armageddon -ain’t-a- coming- arm -a -getting -outta- here

  • The Where

    @danny – you’re lurking and stalking of the Witnesses wreaks of its own brand of zealousness.

    Another tax exempt entity? How about Scientology? They would make great neighbors!

  • Danny Haszard

    Huh? I just want my share of the $$ pie my 4 generations of family invested in their paradise.

    I am not the only one there are millions of disgruntled.

  • stuart

    real estate is sluggish right now and financing for renovations hard to secure. The Bossert sale fell through more than two years ago. Once the market improves, the bigger properties will be listed and in a few years, the Witnesses will no longer call Brooklyn Heights their world headquarters. I do wonder what will become of the tunnels though.

  • Anon


  • stuart


  • bklyn20

    I heard about the tunnels years ago when working with a former witness. (Witness?) who was in the Brooklyn Heights group. Apparently the tunnels were used by elderly members for “safety” and for protection from the weather. I can only pray — unrealistically — that the square footage in the tunnels can be used to decrease the size of the BBP condos. I really don’t want those monstrosities in the park, er, development project.

  • god


  • AEB

    Spotless tunnels.

  • David on Middagh

    When I am skulking about the neighborhood under a gray, drooling sky, what wouldn’t I give to be striding through a brightly lit, spotless tunnel!

  • David on Middagh

    Can I get a witness?

  • Western Brooklyn

    It will be great for the Heights when these cultists are gone!

  • shamrock

    There’s probably a direct tunnel to Gristedes!

  • Eddyenergizer

    Yes indeed there are tunnels built in the 70’s, linking all the wittiness buildings on Columbia Heights (not including the former Squibb buildings at the bottom of the hill) with the Towers Hotel building on Willow St. I think they also have an underground parking area accessed by an unassuming garage that conceals an elevator (some serious James Bond s**t). Before the tunnels, there were long processions of Jo-ho’s traveling between buildings at regular times of the day… I think the last building on the west side of CH houses the cafeteria so it enabled large numbers of them to move between their work and feeding stations, with ease and without disturbing the outside world. Still it’s kind of creepy…

  • carmc

    Anybody got any numbers on the benefit moneywise the WatchTower was to BH?
    Taxes or tourism or moneyspent by residents and JW tourists?

  • Heightsman

    When I see these folks scurrying about the neighborhood like robots I feel a strong sense of anger and pity because I know they are being taken advantage of by the puppet masters of the JW’s.

  • Topham Beauclerk

    Are the Jews and the Catholics and the thousand and one Protestant sects any less contemptible than the Witnesses? Do not synagogues and churches and mosques equally enjoy tax-exempt status?

  • lcd

    Senior housing! can I start a waiting list?

  • Gerry

    How did the JW’s manage to build tunnels?

    I remember the large flocks of young JW people all wearing the same clothing from JC Penny walking through the Heights.

    In fact The Watchtower has bought and renovated several derilict proerties in Brooklyn Heights that include The Bossert Hotel that place was a slum not so long ago.

  • Tony

    @Heightsman: “Taken advantage of by puppet masters”? How so? These are people who’ve made a decision to be part of this religion. They’re just not terribly bright.

  • Heightsman

    Topham – you are right with the tax-exempt comment but I think the contempt is directed at the “closed” approach JWs take to others (including religions). They don’t recognize anyone but themselves from a beliefs perspective. Unlike other religions who have an “openness / acceptance” (example: interfaith meetings,etc.). The other thing that creates contempt is their constant strive to be self-sufficient within a community and their reluctance to be part of any community which they live unless you are “one of them”.

  • Heightsman

    Tony – If I’m not very bright and my “religion” tells me to hand over all my wealth to be a part of the group, cut out all communication with those that don’t agree with the “religion” and that the end of time is near, do I really need to point out that someone smarter is pulling the strings…..

  • Western Brooklyn

    @Topham Beauclerk,

    Do you see Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant churches concentrating & focusing their resources $$$ in buying up an inordinate amount of residential property in Brooklyn Heights???

    Furthermore, most Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc., become an integral part of the neighborhood, they don’t remain separate & aloof from it!

  • Tony

    I find it quite amusing that when Topham criticized the Hasidim for these very qualities you all castigate in the Jehovas, he was labeled an anti-Semite. But you all don’t hesitate to attack the Jehovas for being “aloof,” “closed,” “separate” and for not being “involved in the community.” Yes, and the Satmir helped me out with my tag sale last month.