NEW YORK CITY—Two of the last remaining properties from the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ $1-billion Watchtower portfolio in Brooklyn have changed hands. A 97-unit residential building at 97 Columbia Heights sold to Los Angeles-based Hawkins Way Capital, which also recently paid $18 million for another Jehovah’s Witnesses property, the nearby 117-125 Columbia Heights. Brokering both transactions was Leslie J Garfield & Co’s team of Ravi Kantha and Matthew Lesser.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, which have been selling off their Brooklyn portfolio to help finance their relocation to new headquarters in Warwick, NY, put 97 Columbia Heights on the market this past October. The organization bought the 12-story Brooklyn Heights property in 1986; at that time it was under construction on the site of the former Hotel Margaret, which was destroyed by fire in 1980.
“This is the third Watchtower Portfolio sale we have brokered and we are proud to have been instrumental in this latest transaction,” says Kantha, senior real estate advisor with Leslie J. Garfield. “It is always a pleasure working with Watchtower on its portfolio, especially in a neighborhood we know like the back of our hands.” Adds Lesser, a partner with the firm, “Hawkins Way Capital’s flexibility, creative underwriting and strong backing made them the perfect fit for these properties.”
Amassed over nearly a century, the Watchtower portfolio now stands at six properties remaining to be sold. Clipper Realty paid $87.5 million for another property in the portfolio, 107 Columbia Heights, in a deal that closed this past May.
The highest-profile sales to come out of the portfolio have been to a group led by the Kushner Cos., which in 2016 bought the Watchtower headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights and a development site at 85 Jay St., paying a total of $685 million. In 2013, a Kushner-led group acquired a five-building Watchtower portfolio in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood for $375 million.