Jehovah's Witnesses sell The Towers, a storied Brooklyn Heights hotel
The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold The Towers, a storied Brooklyn Heights hotel. Photos courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses
Purchaser will turn 21 Clark St. into seniors housing called The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold one of the grand jewels of their real-estate portfolio for about $200 million.
The Towers, a former Brooklyn Heights Historic District hotel where the Dodgers lived and presidents gave speeches, will now be turned into seniors housing by its purchaser.
Built in the 1920s, the Leverich Towers Hotel, as it was originally known, has colonnaded towers on its four corners like a Venetian palazzo — a really big palazzo.
The 16-story, 313,768-square-foot property at 21 Clark St. played host in its heyday to the highest-paid Brooklyn Dodgers.
Only the stars of Brooklyn's since-departed baseball team were allowed to live in its splendid suites during baseball season. Other players lived elsewhere, including the Hotel Saint George in Brooklyn Heights.
President Harry Truman spoke at The Towers.
Advertisements called it “The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels.” It was designed by Starrett & Van Vleck, the architecture firm that also designed Manhattan flagship stores for Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
Later, the Watchtower, which owned the Towers for four decades, used the Clark Street property as a residence and dining hall for more than 1,000 people who worked at its nearby world headquarters.
Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors is the purchaser
The Jehovah's Witnesses put the former hotel, which has frontage on Willow and Pineapple streets, up for sale in May 2016.
The purchaser, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, plans to transform The Towers into seniors housing and rename it The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights.
“Meticulously maintained since its inception in the late 1920s, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights epitomizes a Class A property with a unique redevelopment opportunity: To introduce modern, luxury living for seniors in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” Al Rabil, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors' managing partner and CEO, said in a press release.
The new owner is “committed to upholding the property's unique legacy,” Rabil said.
The Boca Raton-based investment firm is the real-estate private equity arm of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors L.P.
Watermark Retirement Communities, a nationwide operator of seniors housing communities, is partnering with Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors on The Towers' redevelopment.
The sale deed for the Towers has not yet appeared in city Finance Department records.
But according to the Wall Street Journal — which was the first to report The Towers' sale — the price was about $200 million.
The Watchtower paid $1,992,229.08 for The Towers in 1975, Finance Department records indicate.
Watchtower property sell-off moves closer to finish line
The sale of The Towers brings the Jehovah's Witnesses a big step closer to completing their years-long effort to liquidate their once-vast property portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.
The sell-off was precipitated by their decision to move their world headquarters to the upstate New York town of Warwick.
“For those of us who lived in Brooklyn Heights, we'll remember The Towers not just as a landmark building but as a beautiful and comfortable home,” Watchtower spokesman David Semonian said in a statement.
“With this most recent transaction, we close another chapter of our history in Brooklyn,” he said.
Other buyers of the religious organization's properties include the Kushner Cos., which spent about $1 billion with investor partners on Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Watchtower purchases.
The firm was headed by Jared Kushner until he stepped aside to serve as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.