Crain’s has a story that underscores how valuable the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s real estate holdings in Brooklyn are, and how much various parties could benefit from the sale of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ land and buildings. The city, of course, stands to benefit from collecting taxes on the properties, which total 3.2 million square feet and are said to be worth more than $1 billion. The article also looks at how the holdings could be attractive to a variety of potential buyers. Residential developers are interested (a Toll Brothers exec says the Dumbo properties are especially enticing), while a spokesman for the Witnesses says many of the buildings could work for universities or a senior-housing operator. Marty Markowitz says a hotel or economic development hub are also possible uses for the properties that are zoned commercial. The story notes although it’s unclear when, exactly, the Witnesses will move to upstate New York, the organization is presenting its final environmental impact study to Warwick next month, and could be cleared to build its new campus there within a year.
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Land Sell-Off Has Brooklyn Dreaming Big [Crain's]
Photo by Shawn Hoke Photography


A new financing plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park has been agreed upon, according to The Times, and it both allows for the construction of housing to pay for the park’s operating costs and anticipates revenue from the transfer of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society buildings to the city. More specifically, the deal involves constructing a smaller than originally conceived residential building on John Street while setting a 2014 deadline for some of the Watchtower properties to be transferred to the city. In turn, the revenue that the Watchtower properties are expected to bring in would mean that other new construction planned for Pier 6 wouldn’t have to be as big: “Under the formula, for every square foot of Watchtower property that is rezoned residential and sold, the building space at Pier 6 would be reduced by 0.30 square feet. According to one estimate, 1.5 million square feet of Watchtower space would have to be sold to make up for the development of both buildings.” The Post, meanwhile, reports that the deal sees Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Joan Millman giving up veto power on the housing plans “after campaigning heavily against the city’s plans to add more housing.” Squadron, however, tells The Times that the agreement is a “new, broader-base model — not as extreme as the plan that we’re changing, but a way to build a great new park in tough times.”
Housing Deal Ensures Park in Brooklyn Will Expand [NY Times]
State Pols Surrender Veto Power [NY Post]