WT Sells First Property for $7.1M

by breakfast of champions 14 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    Just found online

    The first of several properties in Brooklyn Heights that were recently put on the market by the Jehovah's Witnesses has been sold. The price paid was $7.1 million, slightly under its asking price, according to Massey Knakal Realty Services, the brokerage that was retained to sell three of the Witnesses' buildings valued at a total of $18.45 million in the neighborhood.

    The five-story, 20-unit elevator building at 50 Orange St. was sold in an all cash deal, said Robert Knakal, chairman of the brokerage. The sale closed on Dec. 13. The Jehovah Witnesses' business arm, the nonprofit Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, bought the property for an undisclosed sum in 1988 and used it as a residence for the members of its religious order. Last year, the group, which is thinking about moving its headquarters upstate, decided to sell the property along with seven other buildings, ranging from a carriage house to a seven-story apartment building.

    The new owner of 50 Orange St. was not disclosed. A spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses confirmed the sale, but referred further comment to Mr. Knakal.

    “The building was delivered vacant and in exceptional condition,” said Mr. Knakal. “The sale price was in line with expectations.”

    The residential building, which was renovated in 2006, had an asking price of $7.4 million and had been on the market since April, the same time two other properties at 183 Columbia Heights and 161 Columbia Heights in the neighborhood went up for sale. According to Mr. Knakal, sale contracts for the two other properties have also been sent out. 183 Columbia, a 13-unit, seven-story apartment building with 10-foot ceilings, has an asking price of $7.1 million and 161 Columbia Heights, a seven-unit apartment building with one rent stabilized tenant and two rent controlled tenants, has an asking price of $3.5 million.

    The Jehovah's Witnesses, who have called Brooklyn their home since 1909, are the largest landlord in the Brooklyn Heights area. The group has accumulated 34 properties totaling 3.2 million square feet over the course of two decades and created a self-sustaining community in the Brooklyn area. The Jehovah's Witnesses have been known to keep their real estate holdings in mint condition and all of its holdings are expected to attract a slew of buyers.

    The group decided to put eight of its buildings up for sale last summer as it considers a move upstate. In 2009, it bought a 250-acre forested site in Warwick, N.Y., and soon after began to pursue plans to build a campus there. While the group declined to comment on its Brooklyn exit and the sale of the rest of its properties, observers said their departure is inevitable.

    Read more: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120103/REAL_ESTATE/120109994#ixzz1iRZbIZG7

  • TheOutSpoken1

    The sad part about this is that none of the 7.1 million dollars will go to the struggling faithful followers who cant afford their rent or mortgages cuz they gave it all to Jehovah...buying their salvation

  • smiddy

    When does a religous non profit organization........... become a profitable religous real-estate organization.


  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises


  • Azazel

    The Jehovah's Witnesses have been known to keep their real estate holdings in mint condition and all of its holdings are expected to attract a slew of buyers.

    Of course they keep them in mint condition because free labour was provided to renovate/maintain the said premises.

    If i had given a bill to the WTS for all the specialised work i have done for them it would be in the $100k+ ! and thats just me , let alone all the other tradesman who get used. I feel like ive been used! and they didnt even give me anything in return. Sorry i lie! 3 schmelders in a JC shafted me forgetting all i had done for them. Pricks.

    Pissed Az

  • factfinder

    Thank you for posting this.

  • smiddy

    So if they have 34 properties for sale @ an average price of 3 million ( and thats just a conservative figure ) that means well in excess of a hundred million $$$$$

    not bad for a not for profit religion, is it, who shuns higher education,materialism,worldly pursuits,planning for the future,making investments etc.etc.


  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    I wondered, How much toxic waste does 7.1M clean up?

    I have a feeling not much!

  • sir82


    I wonder how the 2000+ laid-off US Bethelites feel about this....

  • MidwichCuckoo

    Blimey - and as a 'youth' I was taught the C of E is the biggest landowner in England - storing up treasures on Earth (while the Watchtower is a pauper). English JWs, I'm sure, won't be aware of the WT's 'property' in USA. Funny how they're ok about profiting from 'Worldly' people, while at the same time condemning them.

  • Nice_Dream

    I just searched for some Brooklyn Heights listings and came across another WT building for sale for $4.5 million and$3.6 million.



    The second listing says " The Watchtower community was awarded a certificate of merit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the superior exterior restoration of this historic house."

  • LostGeneration

    The Jehovah Witnesses' business arm, the nonprofit Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York

    Oh the irony of this one sentence....

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions


    Sugar Hill Capital Partners has purchased 50 Orange Street in Brooklyn Heights for $7.1 million from the Jehovah’s Witness -operated Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York , brokers have revealed.

    50 Orange Street.

    Sugar Hill, according to its website, is a real estate investment firm that focuses on Brooklyn and Manhattan assets with repositioning potential. A spokeswoman for the firm, Aliza Weinstein , confirmed the company had purchased the building but declined to comment any further.

    Fifty Orange Street is a five story, 15,355-square-foot, multi-family building with 20 residential units, an equal mix of ten studios and ten one bedroom apartments. The building had been used to house members of the Jehovah’s Witness organization, which owns about three-million-square-feet of residential and commercial office space in Brooklyn and operates its world headquarters in the area. According to recent reports, the organization is considering liquidating its substantial real estate holdings in the city and relocating to Upstate New York.

    Robert Knakal , chairman of the real estate brokerage company Massey Knakal , handled the sale and said that the property was especially desirable because it was offered by the seller fully vacant. Usually properties of this type and in prime locations have rent stabilized tenants, he said, which can impact value because these types of tenants pay lower-than-market rental rates.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses also take excellent care of their real estate holdings, Mr. Knakal noted—and 50 Orange Street was in pristine condition. According to a release issued by Massey Knakal, the property was renovated by the religious group in 2006.

    “We didn’t set a specific price [marketing the property],” Mr. Knakal said. “We received a ton of interest. About a hundred buyers took a look at this building, which is a lot. It was clearly very highly sought after because of the location, it was vacant and the Jehovah’s Witnesses keep their properties in immaculate condition.”

    Mr. Knakal is in the process of marketing two other Jehovah’s Witness properties in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood: 183 and 161 Columbia Heights . The former is a seven-story, 13-unit, vacant apartment building that boasts approximately 15,000 square feet. 161 Columbia Heights, meanwhile, is smaller—about 7,500 square feet—and has seven fair-market apartments, one that is rent stabilized and two that are rent controlled. Mr. Knakal said the two properties are nearing a sale and estimated that they would trade for roughly $7.1 million and $3.5 million respectively.

    Busy through the downturn in the real estate market, Mr. Knakal predicts that sales will pick up in 2012.

    “Financing is plentiful and at low rates and the likelihood that capital gains rates will rise after next year will drive sellers to put properties on the market,” Mr. Knakal said. “I think that 2012 will be a fantastic year.”

    In addition to the Brooklyn buildings he is handling for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mr. Knakal is currently in the process of marketing a larger deal in the Bronx. 385 Gerard Avenue , a 410,000-square-foot warehouse, is on the market and could trade for as much as $45 million, Mr. Knakal said. According to Mr. Knakal, the property offers potential buyers an opportunity to convert the space to another use, such as residential, or maintain the asset as an industrial property.

    Daniel Geiger, Staff Writer, is reachable at DGeiger@Observer.com and can also be followed at Twitter.com/DanGeiger79.


  • Yan Bibiyan
    Yan Bibiyan

    Is NY a non-disclosure state?

    Deeds and accompanying RE instruments should be a public record. Unless, of course, title is taken into trust with a token consuideration of, say $10, to make the transaction binding. Then it looks like the WT has something to hide

  • Bangalore

    I wish they would have to pay taxes on this amount. Why should a huge book printing and real estate corporation get tax breaks?


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