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Jehovah's Witnesses could get $1 billion for NYC properties

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Jehovah's Witnesses could get $1 billion for NYC properties

By KAREN MATTHEWS10 hours ago


NEW YORK (AP) — The Jehovah's Witnesses, the door-knocking religious group that's been based in Brooklyn for a century, is selling its headquarters and other properties for an expected price tag of $1 billion or more.


The Witnesses' move to a town about an hour north of New York City will likely mean the end of the complex's most well-known feature, the neon "Watchtower" sign advertising the church's flagship publication. But it will free up hundreds of thousands of square feet for businesses and apartments in a now-trendy neighborhood at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

"It's going to be incredibly transformative," said Alexandria Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, a business group.

Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman Richard Devine said the move will allow the organization to operate more efficiently. The church had owned 36 separate Brooklyn properties before it began selling them off in preparation for the move upstate to Warwick. The printing plant where the Witnesses produce Bibles and religious tracts moved from Brooklyn to the town of Wallkill in 2004.

"As we've grown as an organization we've had to buy scattered properties wherever we could find them," Devine said. "With a big, scattered campus like that it's challenging to administer and to maintain."

The Witnesses bought their 733,000-square-foot headquarters from Squibb Pharmaceuticals for $3 million in 1969. It was placed on the market this month along with a nearby apartment building and a 135,000-square-foot lot. Despite the prominent "Watchtower" sign, the building has no historical designations that would place restrictions on the buyer.

The church has not announced an asking price but Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, called $1 billion "a conservative estimate" for the Witnesses' real estate portfolio.

A partnership including Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner purchased a nearby 1.4 million-square-foot complex from the Witnesses in 2013 for $375 million and is developing it as a tech hub, while smaller buildings have sold for varying amounts.

In upstate New York, the Witnesses have purchased hotels and other properties for volunteers building the church's new headquarters.

The Witnesses have more than 8 million active members worldwide and about 11 million more who attend some services, according to church officials.

Witnesses are required to spread their message door to door and are not allowed to vote, receive blood transfusions or serve in the military.

The organization has been in Brooklyn since 1908 but seems culturally distinct from its gritty-meets-yuppie surroundings.

Church members lead English- and Spanish-language tours of the headquarters, decorated with pastel-toned Bible paintings.

Devine said 100,000 people a year visit the Brooklyn headquarters but the Warwick facility an hour north of the city will get more visitors when it opens in 2017.

"To be honest with you," he said, "many people find New York City intimidating."

Sica said she is looking forward to the Witnesses' move in part because the church's properties seem off-limits to non-members, with fenced-in parking lots and no street-level retail. "It's closed off," she said. "You get that sense of 'This place is not for the public.'"

But both Sica and Reed said that before they leave the Witnesses should follow through on a promise to redevelop a neighborhood park, which they agreed to do in exchange for a zoning change.

Devine said the Witnesses will fulfill the commitment to build the park "either through our efforts or through the efforts of the new owner. We won't walk away from it."

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Some interesting comments from the news article: 


l h 1 hour ago

Nice people these Jehovah's Witnesses a little kooky but nice. Once when I was moving by myself they knocked on my door to preach the good word. They saw i was trying to move by myself and helped me with the remainder of my move. I listened to them in return.


PamelaD 2 hours ago


I've known many, many JWs in the last 15 years personally, having worked with them, and been in a shared living situation. They are kind, loyal, good friends, they take care of their own as well as non JW who are troubled. They have good days and bad days like the rest of us. They don't train young men to be killers in the Name Of God; the worst they do is knock on your door. I think while in general their teachings are outdated when it comes to sex and homosexuality, most JWs personally are tolerant and ignore these archaic tenets.


M113461 5 hours ago

I was told many years ago that if I visit Brooklyn to wear a suit.Criminals that come across people in suits think you are a JW and will not true to rob you because they know JW's don't carry money with but pretty much carry Bibles and other pamphlets of religious nature.I was never robbed so perhaps it was true.The JW's also maintained the nicest buildings in what was once a blighted area.I hope the neighborhood does't go back to how it was before the JW's made the area so nice and safe.


Leland 6 hours ago

We had a Jehovah neighbor who refused the Viet Nam Draft . Instead of sneaking off and hide in Canada he did the hard time in prison . Even though he was a gentle harmless person.


Mike K 2 hours ago

I have hired hundreds of employees in my fifty years in business. JWs have never once caused me grief or stolen from me if it were possible i would hire them all .


Happy Lady 6 hours ago

We lived in NY for years, and neighbors are the most sorry to see them leave. The JW purchased land in Brooklyn when it was nothing but a run down "hole" of New York, the places where no one wanted to live, and transformed them into safe neighborhoods and renovated and restored many of the historic buildings there such as the Bossert hotel to the point where our Real Estate friends were in AWE of the condition they have maintainted the properties. Crime went down, more families moved in, and now Brooklyn and the DUMBO district are considered the newest and hottest properties. The areas that are off limits seem to be private residences and working printing factories, which is off limits just like any other reputable private residence complexes and companies in NY. Say what you will, but there are very few religions who actually practice what they preach, and if they moved next door to us, I would welcome them. Might even raise the value of real estate in our neighborhood.



zelda 5 hours ago

When Hitler came to power in 1933 the first people he rounded up were Jehovas Witnesses. Same with Stalin and Chairman Mao. l don't know why these peace loving people put so much fear in the hearts of butchers and dictators but they do. Castro executed a great many JWs in Cuba after he came to power too


RobertJ 6 hours ago

Jehovah's witnesses are some of the nicest people I have ever met who happen to believe they have the one true faith and all other religions are condemned by God.

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How many more threads do we need on this same topic?


Perhaps they could all be merged into one thread that is "Sticky"

"Let all things take place decently and by arrangement."
~ 1 Corinthians 14:40 ~

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How many more threads do we need on this same topic?


Perhaps they could all be merged into one thread that is "Sticky"


This news article was published today about 4:00PM PST. These are not the same buildings that were sold a while back. How many threads on this article are there?

Edited by Musky
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Although these threads are not about the article linked above, they are ALL about the sale of the buildings - the same buildings - now up for sale .... and a couple of these threads are already "merged threads"







"Let all things take place decently and by arrangement."
~ 1 Corinthians 14:40 ~

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Where did you find those comments? All the ones I saw after the article were the six from the usual disgruntled former members who always come out of the woodwork whenever JW's are featured in a news article. 


Hi Brother Chuck,


Check the comments section here http://news.yahoo.com/jehovahs-witnesses-could-1-billion-nyc-properties-161102417.html :)

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I'll just add this interesting article that has a fun map.




(old article, but I posted because the map was interesting.)

Edited by Brother Arellano
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The article may be two years old, but, thanks to it, I finally found out what DUMBO really stands for: :D 




Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is a historic neighborhood of Brooklyn http://jewishbusinessnews.com/2013/10/07/jared-kushner-group-closes-375-million-deal-in-brooklyn-with-jehovahs-witnesses/


And here, all this time, I thought the place was named after this little guy:

51q6ey9MICL._SS280.jpg  ^_^


Nobody has to DRIVE me crazy.5a5e0e53285e2_Nogrinning.gif.d89ec5b2e7a22c9f5ca954867b135e7b.gif  I'm close enough to WALK. 5a5e0e77dc7a9_YESGrinning.gif.e5056e95328247b6b6b3ba90ddccae77.gif


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I know I wish I could afford to buy whatever sort of residence they create from these properties.  I love that neighborhood and the view across to Manhattan... seriously, a dream location!   :wub:

well if the WW headquarters is moving out, I suppose there is a good reason why it may not be such a dream location!

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