Orangeburg Assembly Hall - designed to be sold as a future supermarket?

by cedars 41 Replies latest jw friends

  • cedars

    Hi everyone

    I've just been watching a YouTube video that reveals the new Assembly Hall in Orangeburg, SC.

    Two things struck me when watching it...

    Firstly, EVERYTHING is attributed to Jehovah, right down to deciding the location where the hall is to be built. "We examined over 300 properties," said one interviewee, "we were reminded that Jehovah knew where the site was, we just had to keep looking and show him that we were persistent." Other workers interviewed throughout the video attribute everything to God, as though it is impossible to build anything without divine direction.

    Here is the video...

    The second thing I noticed was how much the finished Assembly Hall, from the outside at least, bears an uncanny resemblance to a supermarket. Could this be intentional? Was the whole thing built to be sold on to a retailer? Looking at those shots, you have to wonder. If it does end up being snapped up by Walmart in the next few years, you can be sure the proceeds will be swallowed up by the Society. All those volunteers who slaved over that construction "with Jehovah's help" won't see a cent.


  • zeb

    Then they will have lots of cash to pay out judgement claims made against them (Conti)

  • irondork

    Sister in video: "It is amazing how Jehovah, his Holy Spirit is directing this. This is such an amazing experience."

    It's a building, sweetie. It's not holy spirit. It's business. Happens all the time. Look around. All the other churches were built the same way. And the Walmarts, and the Jiffy Lubes, and the military installations.

    They started tapping the congregations for money back when I was still in, asking for ouright donoations and pledges for regular donations. They said they would not break ground until we coughed up 5 million and the rest could be paid back to the society later. No mention of who would ultimately hold the title.

  • Splash

    You have to hand it to them - for a bunch of mostly low educated people they know how to build a high quality building.

    Painting that backdrop - wow.


  • prologos

    it would be a bargain/ profitable to sell/buy, with all that free labor. but wal-mart/Loews,Target all have very special needs and trade-mark shapes.

    There was Cathedral building in France, Europe too, way more grandiose then the power, membership devotion of that religion there today.

    given Its LOCATION along the I-95 corridor, savy jw investors will have real estate interest sown up in the neighborhood.

    Underpasses hopefully have clearances allowing free passage of prayer - protected charter busses bringing in the pilgrims.

  • dontplaceliterature

    That music.

  • cofty

    What a waste of concrete

  • wha happened?
    wha happened?

    I suppose a Real Estate investor would be interested in a multi-use property for later marketing

  • wannabefree

    What a great scam!

    Everybody is happified to donate their money, their labor, see the finished product, boast of the brotherhood ... and then pay again and again to rent it for assemblies and conventions, and donate yet again for the worldwide work while attending such venues ... win win!

    Keep dumping that money into Watch Tower coffers, no need to share rental fees with local schools or arenas ... not to mention stiffing the local economy for the tax dollars!

  • wasblind

    LOL thanks Cedars

  • OnTheWayOut

    Cedars, you give these guys way too much planning credit if you think they build to suit some other need later.

    They build to keep the members' money in-house instead of renting an auditorium. Their only future plan for new facilities if membership shrinks is to squeeze all the Disctrict Conventions into their own buildings.

    But it does have that look. I will give an opinion on that: It has been suggested that WTS and it's regional building committees over-buy materials to allow some underhanded movement of said materials. It might be best to build a standard retail-like facility in order to over-buy the type of materials that can be easily used in other projects not connected to Watchtower.

    "We received an international award for having one of the flattest most level floors of 2012."

    I challenge such statements from any source, certainly from Watchtower. Most awards are from your own colleagues. Who the hell offers such an award? I didn't find it in "The Outstanding Buildings of the Year" (TOBY) Awards at (Building Owners and Managers Association International)

    I think it is strange to have an auditorium with a level floor instead of a pitch to allow better viewing from the rear. They probably threw in that comment and gave themselves the award to silence members who ask why the floor couldn't be pitched.

    "It is amazing how Jehovah, His Holy Spirit is directing this."

    Have they seen some mega-churches? Satan does just as well, better often.

    "Jehovah's hand in all the decision-making."

    So when a toilet doesn't work properly, was that Jehovah picking out that model? Or when the water fountain handle breaks, did Jehovah choose that one?

    "51% ... were sisters"

    They like to show many female workers involved. They really believe acknowledging them allows them to treat women like second-class sisters.

    The whole thing just disgusts me, it's so easy to see the brainwashing when you take the red pill.

  • Phizzy

    As the WT realises that a good part of their income comes from the property scam, I would bet they have an eye to future market value not only when they build, but when they locate where to build.

    A long time ago word came down the line that if a K.H was to be relocated it was to be on a main road, and that Assembly Halls should preferably be new builds and not refurb's of existing buildings.

    At the time I put this down to other reasons, now I believe it is all to do with maximising profits as they turn-over their Property Portfolio.

  • 00DAD

    It'll make a great Wal-mart someday ... and all the uneducated JWs can work THERE too!

  • sir82

    I'm kind of not convinced on this grand plan to eventually sell the property.

    JWs have built or renovated numerous assembly halls over the past 30-40 years.

    Have they ever actually sold one? If so I am unaware of it.

    I tend to think of it like OTWO - the long term goal is for the WTS to save its own money.

    Seating capacity of 3000 is far too many for the typical half-circuit that uses an assembly hall in a weekend.

    What is more likely is that district conventions will eventually be held there, instead of in rented facilities in Winston-Salem and Columbia.

  • Emery

    Basically, I know about 80% of the people shown in the video, especially the interviewees and the narrator. Everyone participated in this build because it replaces field service and meeting attendence as sacred service to Jehovah. Kingdom halls have been functioning at 40% attendence all year long, no exaggeration. About everyone in my circuit has mentioned the amount of meetings they have missed to help build Jehovah's temple of worship. It's a common theme and excuse to miss meetings, its become kind of the inside joke around South Carolina, "oh yeah I was at orangeburg this weekend". Now they are having multiple local needs talks regarding meeting attendence now that the build is over with.

  • 00DAD

    sir82: Have they ever actually sold one? If so I am unaware of it.

    Yeppers, there was the famous Igloo Assembly Hall in the Woodland Hills, California. It was sold around 2006 for mucho dinero. As I recall the amount was somewhere north of $20 million US.

    It's was supposed to be redeveloped into a complex of apartment buildings/condominiums and retail. I think when the real estate market tanked the project got derailed. I just looked at the satellite image on Google maps and it's just an empty lot.

    I'm sure the JWs are saying Holy Spirit called that one!

    Here's an old thread about it:

    And an archive link:

  • sir82

    I stand corrected.

    Even so, one sale in 40 years does not a business model make.

  • cedars


    Even so, one sale in 40 years does not a business model make.

    Which might be why they made this latest assembly hall look more like a retail outlet than a place of worship.

    Easier to sell on.


  • Billy the Ex-Bethelite
    Billy the Ex-Bethelite

    I'm not sure they have a future plan to flip it anytime soon. From what I've seen, several years down the road, after the property should have been completely paid for, the circuits are still charged a high rate per publisher to pay off loans, expenses, renovations, whatever. And the nicer the building, the higher the price.

    Those publishers are going to be "paying off" this assembly hall forever.

  • gingerbread

    Cedars and OnTheWayOut - you're spot on.

    I've been to this site in it's early stages. I would describe it at a "generic" complex with full retail or corporate potential. As I've mentioned in other posts, the WT Society is in this for the long term and the real estate / building arm has a lot of internal power.

    Emery - You're right about counting time. Pioneers fill the RBC's because of the massive amount of hours they can claim during construction and renovation projects (they can also count time spent at funerals, hospital visits, etc...).

    As Mark Twain is reported to have said "Buy land. They ain't makin' anymore of it!"

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