Furman-Atlantic Witness building goes
A developer is in contract with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to
buy the religious order’s mammoth, 12-story waterfront building at
360 Furman St.
While several developers expressed interest in the site, RAL Development
Services purchased the Brooklyn Heights property for an undisclosed sum
and plans to convert the 1 million-square-foot book and video distribution
center into waterfront apartments, as first reported by The Brooklyn Papers.
The Manhattan-based company is best known for converting the Arthur Levitt
State office building at 270 Broadway into residential and commercial use.
The Furman Street building, which rises at the end of Atlantic Avenue, between
the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the East River, will serve as a gateway
to the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park, a 1.3-mile commercial and recreational
waterfront development between Vinegar Hill and Brooklyn Heights.
David Semonian, a spokesman for the Watchtower Society, commonly known as
the Jehovah’s Witnesses, declined to comment on the sale price of the
building but said all the proceeds would go towards “worldwide Bible
According to sources, the building sold for $200 million.
The Watchtower society acquired the property in 1983 and own approximately
35 buildings throughout DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights. They have moved some
of their printing plants to upstate Wallkill.
“It was our aim to not only sell the building but to locate a buyer
who was interested in the objectives and goals of the community,” said
Robert Levine, president and principal owner of RAL, says he is currently
in discussions with the city and state to determine the future uses of the
building and what relationship it will have to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
“We plan to use 360 Furman St. to enhance the southern gateway to the
new park and provide an exciting waterfront destination,” Levine said
in a written statement.
Details of the relationship between the building and the park are still
being hashed out.
In November, Councilman David Yassky sent a letter to Deputy Mayor Daniel
Doctoroff requesting that the taxes generated from the sale go into funding
the park. Any new taxes generated from the building would be new revenue
since the building has been tax exempt because it is owned by a religious
“In this fiscal crisis, New York City has little money to create and
sustain parks, we need to find creative ways to guarantee income for the
Brooklyn Bridge Park,” Yassky wrote.
Deborah Wetzel, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp.
(BBPDC), a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corp. charged with
building the park, said BBPDC officials are in discussions with the developer
to determine whether the building should be included in the boundary of
The deal is expected to close in May and the Watchtower society will remain
in the building for one more year.”
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010