Good-bye, Witnesses; Hello, Luxury Condos

“There is only one possible use, and that’s luxury condominiums.”

So proclaimed David Lombino, the director of special projects for Two Trees, in a New York Times story published last weekend and accompanied by stunning photographs of the landscape currently inhabited by the Jehovah’s Witness complex that straddles Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.

His conclusion is hardly a surprise, given the location of the JW properties and the Brooklyn real estate, and the article doesn’t spend much time analyzing the effects of the thousands of residents that will likely occupy the buildings and land currently on the market.

“Everyone in the world will be taking a look at them,” said Tucker Reed, the president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a local development corporation. “The barrier to entry for a lot of those folks will be how high land values have gone. I’m sure they will fetch a very high sales price.” Mr. Reed estimated the value of the three properties being marketed as “somewhere between $850 million to $1 billion.”

Among the properties available is a three-acre parking lot on Jay Street the development of which will not require a public review process and that could on its own, according to the article, eventually house 1,000 residents.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses began divesting their local properties more than a decade ago, beginning with the building that became One Brooklyn Bridge.

And while the article doesn’t examine future effects of the development, it does cast an approving eye on the Witnesses’ presence in the bad old days of the neighborhood, when DUMBO was a scary place inhabited by packs of roaming feral dogs.

And it estimates that once the properties return to the city’s tax rolls, they could bring in up to nearly $7 million annually.

Read the full story



Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • Roberto Gautier

    With the inevitable super sale of the JW properties, mention is often made that for all of the years of JW ownership, no property taxes were paid. This, when the centerpiece of the DiBlasio affordable housing plan is based on the assumption that developers would make immense contributions to the program. Shouldn’t city officials investigate the tax breaks received by religious institutions as a way to pay for affordable housing? The JW’s may make a billion dollars on properties that contributed nothing to the tax rolls. This doesn’t sound fair at all. And, this recommendation is not only directed at the JW’s. As a society, we should examine the myriad exceptions given to religious institutions.

  • BeenBurned

    Consider the huge windfall of cash the JWs are now pulling in from their properties in Brooklyn.
    They never had to pay property taxes, but benefitted from community services and NYC development investments in Brooklyn.
    Despite their failed doomsday predictions, JW leaders did prophetically foresee that there was money to be made from NYC real estate. And they invested heavily in the market as if they didn’t believe their own stated imminent “end of the world” scenarios.
    They fleeced their followers for the CapEx,my own parents and grandparents gave them everything.
    Some may think that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent a fanatical and extreme fringe religious group. But when it comes to money management and real estate development they may match the business smarts of Donald Trump.
    (The Watchtower could buy out Scientology 100X over)

  • Andrew Porter

    Here’s an article in The Real Deal about how the Witnesses have saved $368 million in property taxes: