After more than a century of being headquartered in Brooklyn, the Jehovah's Witnesses are throwing in the towel and moving upstate, leaving behind thousands of square feet of space and one very large glowing "Watchtower" sign.
Like so many weary Brooklynites before them, the Witnesses are departing for Warwick, New York in an effort to consolidate their holdings and operate more efficiently. The move has been a long time coming, as the church has been slowly selling off its 36 Brooklyn properties for more than a decade.
But the most visible sign of their departure is the sale of the 733,000-square-foot building that served as the Witnesses' headquarters. The church purchased the building in 1969 for a measly $3 million, but now, Tucker Reed, president for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, valued the property at upwards of $1 billion.
It's unclear what's going to happen to the iconic Watchtower sign, which advertises the church's flagship publication. What is clear, however, is that thousands of square feet of space will be up for grabs for chop-licking developers—and lucky for them, the building is not landmarked, leaving it totally at the mercy of its buyer.
"It's going to be incredibly transformative," Alexandria Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, told the AP. Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, bought a nearby 1.4 million-square-foot complex from the church in 2013, and is working to develop it into a tech hub.
Sica added that she's looking forward to the Witnesses's departure since it will open up a huge space that's more or less off limits to all but its members. "It's closed off," she said. "You get that sense of 'This place is not for the public.'"
The church did, however, agree to redevelop a neighborhood park as part of a rezoning deal, which it has said it plans to follow through with.