NEW YORK (AP) — The Jehovah’s Witnesses, the door-knocking religious group that’s been based in Brooklyn for a century, is selling its headquarters and other properties for an expected price tag of $1 billion or more.
The Witnesses’ move to a town about an hour north of New York City will likely mean the end of the complex’s most well-known feature, the neon “Watchtower” sign advertising the church’s flagship publication. But it will free up hundreds of thousands of square feet for businesses and apartments in a now-trendy neighborhood at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
“It’s going to be incredibly transformative,” said Alexandria Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, a business group.
Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Richard Devine said the move will allow the organization to operate more efficiently. The church had owned 36 separate Brooklyn properties before it began selling them off in preparation for the move upstate to Warwick. The printing plant where the Witnesses produce Bibles and religious tracts moved from Brooklyn to the town of Wallkill in 2004.
“As we’ve grown as an organization we’ve had to buy scattered properties wherever we could find them,” Devine said. “With a big, scattered campus like that it’s challenging to administer and to maintain.”
The Witnesses bought their 733,000-square-foot headquarters from Squibb Pharmaceuticals for $3 million in 1969. It was placed on the market this month along with a nearby apartment building and a 135,000-square-foot lot. Despite the prominent “Watchtower” sign, the building has no historical designations that would place restrictions on the buyer.
The church has not announced an asking price but Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, called $1 billion “a conservative estimate” for the Witnesses’ real estate portfolio.
Read more: Business Insider