Eye on Real Estate: Florida Panthers' Owner is Turning 124 Columbia Heights into an Apartment Building
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It will make quite a splash. That's a literal statement, not marketing hype.
Vincent Viola plans to build an indoor swimming pool at his Brooklyn Heights Watchtower residential redevelopment project.
An application for a permit to excavate a pool in the cellar of 124 Columbia Heights popped up recently in city Buildings Department records.
Viola, a billionaire who owns the Florida Panthers hockey team, bought the dormitory building from the Jehovah's Witnesses for $105 million in 2016, city Finance Department records indicate.
The 10-story property, which is located within the boundaries of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, faces the famous Promenade. The building has views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
The religious organization sold 124 Columbia Heights to Viola during its multi-year campaign to liquidate its enormous Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO real estate portfolio.
The property sell-off is now in its final phase. It was prompted by the Watchtower's decision to relocate its world headquarters from nearby 25-30 Columbia Heights to the town of Warwick in upstate New York.
Last summer Viola received the city Landmarks Preservation Commission's approval to put an elevator bulkhead on the roof of 124 Columbia Heights. The elevator will be used to move cars in and out of a parking garage that's being constructed inside the rebuilding.
He's remodeling 124 Columbia Heights so there will be 101 apartments, Buildings Department records indicate. When the Jehovah's Witnesses owned it, there were 237 dorms in it.