By James Thomas Rook Jr.
Church ‘shuns‘ 15-year-old, then father – ends up in court
Posted by SDD Contributor on November 9, 2019 at 4:20 am
The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit against a religious congregation’s “shunning” practice, but the congregation and several other groups contend the justices had no right to even take part in the case.
Randy Wall, a real estate agent, filed the suit against the Highwood congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Calgary, Alberta.
Wall was expelled from the congregation for getting drunk and not be properly repentant, court records said. He pursued an appeals process through the Jehovah’s Witnesses then went to court because he said the Witnesses’ “shunning” — the practice of not associating with him in any way — hurt his business.
He explained his two occasions of drunkenness related to “the previous expulsion by the congregation of his 15-year-old daughter.”
A lower court opinion said: “Even though the daughter was a dependent child living at home, it was a mandatory church edict that the entire family shun aspects of their relationship with her. The respondent said the edicts of the church pressured the family to evict their daughter from the family home. This led to … much distress in the family.”
The “distress” eventually resulted in his drunkenness, Wall said.
Wall submitted to the court arguments that about half his client base, members of various Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations, then refused to conduct business with him. He alleged the “disfellowship had an economic impact on the respondent.”
During high court arguments Thursday, the congregation asked the justices to rule that religious congregations are immune to such claims in the judicial system.
The lower courts had ruled that the courts could play a role in determining whether or not such circumstances rise to the level of violating civil rights or injuring a “disfellowshipped” party.
The rulings from the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeals said Wall’s case was subject to secular court jurisdiction.
A multitude of religious and political organizations joined with the congregation in arguing that Canada’s courts should not be involved.
The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms said in a filing: “The wish or desire of one person to associate with an unwilling person (or an unwilling group) is not a legal right of any kind. For a court, or the government, to support such a ‘right’ violates the right of self-determination of the unwilling parties.”
Previous case law has confirmed the right of religious or private voluntary groups to govern themselves and dictate who can be a member.
But previously rulings also reveal there is room for the court system to intervene when the question centers on property or civil rights.
The Association for Reformed Political Action described the case as having “profound implications for the separation of church and state.”
It contends the court should keep its hands off the argument.
“Secular judges have no authority and no expertise to review a church membership decision,” said a statement from Andre Schutten, a spokesman for the group. “Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere.”
John Sikkema, staff lawyer for ARPA, said: “The issue in this appeal is jurisdiction. A state actor, including a court, must never go beyond its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court must consider what kind of authority the courts can or cannot legitimately claim. We argue that the civil government and churches each have limited and distinct spheres of authority. This basic distinction between civil and spiritual jurisdiction is a source of freedom and religious pluralism and a guard against civic totalism.”
He continued: “Should the judiciary have the authority to decide who gets to become or remain a church member? Does the judiciary have the authority to decide who does or does not get to participate in the sacraments? Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere. Here we need separation of church and state.”
The Alberta Court of Appeal, however, suggested the case was about more than ecclesiastical rules.
“Because Jehovah’s Witnesses shun disfellowshipped members, his wife, other children and other Jehovah’s Witnesses were compelled to shun him,” that lower court decision said. “The respondent asked the appeal committee to consider the mental and emotional distress he and his family were under as a result of his duaghter’s disfellowship.”
The church committee concluded he was “not sufficiently repentant.”
The ruling said “the only basis for establishing jurisdiction over a decision of the church is when the complaint involves property and civil rights,” and that is what Wall alleged.
“Accordingly, a court has jurisdiction to review the decision of a religious organization when a breach of the rules of natural justice is alleged.”
By Guest Indiana
BY: MICHAEL YOUNG 7:30 AM ON JUNE 15, 2019
Excavation and the insertion of pilings have commenced for a new 26-story, mixed-use structure at 30 Front Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Hill West Architects will be responsible for the design, while Fortis Property Group is the developer of the 360,000-square-foot project that will stand 270 feet tall and come with 74 apartments, averaging 2,400 square feet apiece.
Photos were taken by Tectonic and show the current state of construction.
The site was previously occupied by a parking lot for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ former headquarters, famous for its prominent Watchtower sign. The plot at 30 Front Street was the last piece of real estate the group sold off, which concluded a seven-year process of relocating to Warwick, New York.
Read more: https://newyorkyimby.com/2019/06/excavation-begins-for-26-story-tower-at-30-front-street-in-dumbo-brooklyn.html
By Guest Nicole
The Dumbo Heights complex gets some praise
These aren't easy times for the Kushner family. Jared Kushner is having trouble getting security clearance so he can advise his father-in-law in the White House. The family risks losing control of its prize tower at 666 Fifth Ave. unless it can find cash to pay off loans. Their company has even been sued for charging tenants excessive rent for apartments in Brooklyn Heights.
So it was perhaps understandable that the Kushners were pleased to get one small bit of good news: A property of theirs was named “best operating building of the year” by the New York chapter of industry group Building Owners and Managers Association International.
The award was given to the former Watchtower complex acquired from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for $375 million in 2014 by a consortium including RFR Realty, LIVWRK and the Kushners. The place was renamed Dumbo Heights and commercial tenants include WeWork and Etsy.
Nichole Kushner, who triggered a federal investigation when she highlighted her brother’s White House job as part of a pitch to Chinese investors last year for a project in New Jersey, said the family was “very proud” to win the award.
“We were among the first to recognize the potential of recasting this area as a unique community combining tech/retail and high-end living spaces,” she said in a statement.
By Guest Nicole
Purchaser will turn 21 Clark St. into seniors housing called The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold one of the grand jewels of their real-estate portfolio for about $200 million.
The Towers, a former Brooklyn Heights Historic District hotel where the Dodgers lived and presidents gave speeches, will now be turned into seniors housing by its purchaser.
Built in the 1920s, the Leverich Towers Hotel, as it was originally known, has colonnaded towers on its four corners like a Venetian palazzo — a really big palazzo.
The 16-story, 313,768-square-foot property at 21 Clark St. played host in its heyday to the highest-paid Brooklyn Dodgers.
Only the stars of Brooklyn's since-departed baseball team were allowed to live in its splendid suites during baseball season. Other players lived elsewhere, including the Hotel Saint George in Brooklyn Heights.
President Harry Truman spoke at The Towers.
Advertisements called it Â“The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels.Â” It was designed by Starrett & Van Vleck, the architecture firm that also designed Manhattan flagship stores for Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
Later, the Watchtower, which owned the Towers for four decades, used the Clark Street property as a residence and dining hall for more than 1,000 people who worked at its nearby world headquarters.
Here's The Towers' grand staircase, which echoes the grandeur of its early days as a hotel.
Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors is the purchaser
The Jehovah's Witnesses put the former hotel, which has frontage on Willow and Pineapple streets, up for sale in May 2016.
The purchaser, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, plans to transform The Towers into seniors housing and rename it The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights.
Â“Meticulously maintained since its inception in the late 1920s, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights epitomizes a Class A property with a unique redevelopment opportunity: To introduce modern, luxury living for seniors in Brooklyn and Manhattan,Â” Al Rabil, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors' managing partner and CEO, said in a press release.
The new owner is Â“committed to upholding the property's unique legacy,Â” Rabil said.
The Boca Raton-based investment firm is the real-estate private equity arm of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors L.P.
Watermark Retirement Communities, a nationwide operator of seniors housing communities, is partnering with Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors on The Towers' redevelopment.
The sale deed for the Towers has not yet appeared in city Finance Department records.
But according to theÂ Wall Street JournalÂ Â— which was the first to report The Towers' sale Â— the price was about $200 million.
The Watchtower paid $1,992,229.08 for The Towers in 1975, Finance Department records indicate.
The Towers' rooftop terrace has views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
Watchtower property sell-off moves closer to finish line
The sale of The Towers brings the Jehovah's Witnesses a big step closer to completing their years-long effort to liquidate their once-vast property portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.
The sell-off was precipitated by their decision to move their world headquarters to the upstate New York town of Warwick.
Â“For those of us who lived in Brooklyn Heights, we'll remember The Towers not just as a landmark building but as a beautiful and comfortable home,Â” Watchtower spokesman David Semonian said in a statement.
Â“With this most recent transaction, we close another chapter of our history in Brooklyn,Â” he said.
Other buyers of the religious organization's properties include the Kushner Cos., which spent about $1 billion with investor partners on Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Watchtower purchases.
The firm was headed by Jared Kushner until he stepped aside to serve as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. Â
By Guest Nicole
Kushner Companies, CIM Group and LIVWRK plan to turn building into office complex
The iconic Watchtower sign, a glowing fixture over Brooklyn Heights, will soon disappear from the skyline.
Earlier this month, the Jehovah’s Witnesses filed a permit application seeking to remove the 15-foot-tall letters from the roof of the organization’s now-former headquarters. The request comes nearly a year after developers Kushner Companies, CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings purchased the building at 25-30 Columbia Heights for $340 million.
Removal of the letters will cost an estimated $70,500, according to documents filed with the city’s Department of Buildings. The sign’s framework will remain in place, according to the application filed June 9.
The developers — who collectively go by Columbia Heights Associates — declined to comment. Representatives for the Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t return messages seeking additional information on the sign’s future.
The sign has hovered over Brooklyn Heights for nearly 50 years. The religious organization purchased the building in 1969 from pharmaceutical giant E.R. Squibb & Sons. At the time, Squibb had its own sign on the roof.
According to the Witnesses’ website, the sign’s red neon lights were swapped for LEDs in 2009 — saving the organization some $4,000 in annual maintenance costs.
The departure of what many have described as a Brooklyn landmark is not necessarily a surprise. When the new owners unveiled plans in May to convert the building into a 635,000-square-foot office complex — dubbed “Panorama” — renderings show some sort of sign but not the iconic letters. At the time, the Brooklyn Eagle speculated that one of the building’s new tenants would secure the rights to put their own sign in the old one’s place.
In a video posted on the religious group’s website, Vernon Wisegarver, one of the group’s leaders, hinted that the sign’s time with the building was limited: “As for its future, it will probably remain with that building as long as we remain with that building.”
By Guest Nicole
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Going, going, gone.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have found a buyer for one of their last Brooklyn properties, The Real Deal has reported.
The property that is being sold is a development site in DUMBO, 74 Adams St.
Jeffrey Gershon of Hope Street Capital, a developer with properties in Brooklyn and Queens, is the buyer, the real-estate publication reported. The property is in contract for close to $60 million, the publication said.
Spokesmen for the Jehovah's Witnesses did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Brooklyn Eagle. Neither did Gershon.
The listing for 74 Adams St. has been removed from the Watchtower's real-estate marketing website, which customarily occurs when one of the religious group's properties goes into contract.
A one-story-plus-mezzanine vehicle-maintenance facility with 32 parking spaces now stands on the property. It has frontage on Adams Street, Front Street, York Street and Fleet Alley.
This pending deal brings the religious group another step closer to selling off its once-massive property holdings in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights — after having a presence in Brooklyn for more than a century.
The Watchtower is methodically liquidating its real-estate portfolio because it recently relocated its world headquarters from Brooklyn Heights to upstate Warwick.
Earlier this month, as the Eagle previously reported, it closed on the $87.5 million sale of 107 Columbia Heights, a gated L-shaped residential building in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The purchaser was an affiliate of publicly traded Clipper Realty Inc., which is headed by David Bistricer.
Another company Bistricer heads is the co-owner of Brooklyn Heights' Hotel Bossert, which was also purchased from the Jehovah's Witnesses.
As-of-right residential development
But more about 74 Adams St., the DUMBO property that Gershon is reportedly buying.
It is located outside the boundaries of the DUMBO Historic District.
When the property was still included on the Watchtower's marketing website, the listing described it as a 144,913-square-foot development site where luxury residential construction is allowed as-of-right. A new building constructed there could also have commercial and retail space and a community facility, if that's what the purchaser wants.
According to city Finance Department records, the Jehovah's Witnesses have owned 74 Adams St. since 1975. They purchased it from Andrew Borgersen.
When Gershon's deal closes, 74 Adams St. will be the third DUMBO development site sold by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The biggest-ticket deal was for 85 Jay St. The Kushner Cos. and investment partners paid $345 million for the massive parking lot, which has nearly 1 million square feet of development rights. Jared Kushner — President Trump's son-in-law — headed the Kushner Cos. until he stepped aside to become the president's senior adviser.
The purchaser of the other recently sold DUMBO development site, 69 Adams St., was the Rabsky Group, which paid $65 million for it. The site is currently occupied by a four-story building with a tennis court on top.
Developer Jeffrey Gershon is buying 74 Adams St., the building on this DUMBO corner, from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
By Guest Nicole
Clipper Realty has scooped up the 11-story building
Back in February, the newly-public Clipper Realty entered into an agreement to pick up the 11-story Brooklyn Heights rental building at 107 Columbia Heights from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and, as of yesterday, the deed has been done.
On Tuesday, Clipper closed on the deal, becoming the official new owners of the 154,058-gross-square-foot building, which previously housed members of the Witnesses’ world headquarters staff. Back in February, it was reportedly going for $87.5 million, though a spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses declined to comment on the final sale price.
“The property served us well for more than 50 years and became one of the focal points of the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood,” David A. Semonian, spokesman for the Witnesses, said in a release announcing the closing. The group is in the process of moving its headquarters to Warwick, New York—and has been selling off much of its Brooklyn real estate (including the iconic Watchtower building) in the process.
Right now, the building has 161 rentals, and Clipper previously stated that they would add a few more of those while spiffing up some of the existing public spaces. Because it’s in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, it’s unlikely that the building itself will change too much.
The building itself boasts plenty of Brooklyn Heights perks. Besides standing adjacent to the promenade, it features a landscaped garden courtyard with a fountain and a rooftop terrace with views of the Brooklyn Bridge, East River, and Lower Manhattan.
By Guest Nicole
The buyer is the Rabsky Group, a prolific residential developer
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Another piece of the empire is gone.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold 69 Adams St. in DUMBO, which had been one of the last properties left in their once-vast Brooklyn real-estate portfolio, for $65 million, city Finance Department records indicate.
The buyer is 69 Adams LLC with Simon Dushinsky of the Rabsky Group as authorized signatory, the records show.
The Rabsky Group, headed by Dushinsky and Isaac Rabinowitz, is a prolific residential developer in Brooklyn and Queens.
Dushinsky did not respond to a call for comment by press time.
The sale closed on Nov. 29, the Watchtower announced without revealing the purchaser's identity or the price paid.
The just-sold development site is located thisclose to the Manhattan Bridge and is currently occupied by a four-story building that's a recreational facility with a tennis court on the roof and a parking garage.
In a statement, Watchtower spokesman Richard Devine called 69 Adams St. "a premiere real estate opportunity, not only because of its location but also because of its building potential.”
He said that zoning allows for the construction of a 157,000-square-foot-plus building that's 280 feet tall.
In late October, the Brooklyn Eagle reported that the Watchtower had made a deal to sell the site, where a luxury residential tower with commercial space, storefronts and a community facility can be built as-of-right.
Jared Kushner is reportedly buying another DUMBO Watchtower site
The closing of the sale of 69 Adams St. represents another step forward in the Watchower's years-long efforts to liquidate its local property holdings because of the relocation of its world headquarters from Brooklyn Heights to upstate Warwick, New York.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have just a few Brooklyn properties left.
The religious organization has made a deal to sell one of them — a parking lot at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO with nearly 1 million square feet of development rights — to the Kushner Cos. and its investment partners for $345 million, the New York Posthas reported. The deal is expected to close this month, the newspaper said.
The Kushner Cos.' chief executive officer is Jared Kushner, President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law, who served as an advisor to his father-in-law during his successful election campaign.
Offers were due on Nov. 17 for another Watchtower DUMBO development site, 74 Adams St. A vehicle-maintenance facility stands on the property, but as-of-right luxury residential development is allowed there.
By Guest Nicole
THE vast Jehovah Witness UK headquarters under construction near Galleywood has been praised by a building watchdog.
Inspectors from the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) – an independent building watchdog – have commended the International Bible Students Association (IBSA) for its presentation and working methods on the Temple Farm site.
The glowing report came as IBSA announced groundworks to the £150 million development will begin between September and December.
Once complete, it will provide homes for 1,200 Jehovah Witnesses across 16 five-storey blocks.
A large printing plant, offices, auditorium, health and fitness centre, water treatment plant and on-site parking for 1,040 vehicles are also in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, Temple Grove Park, which lies to the east of the site, is being remodelled to accommodate a wildflower meadow for residents to relax in.
In its latest newsletter, IBSA said it will continue to work hard until the project is complete.
“The report included the following observations.
“This is a very well presented site.
“Working methods are planned to minimise the impact of vibration, noise and dust as far as possible.
“The organisation looked for opportunities for training of female operatives.
“Eleven of the 15 heavy plant operators are female,” it said.
CCS awarded the site a total of 38 out of 50, before granting it a Certificate of
Performance Beyond Compliance.
BT Openreach and a number of other companies have started work on road access into the site.
Temporary 40mph speed restrictions are in place along the B1007 near the Bakers Lane junction, which should last another four weeks.
The restrictions are due to the preparation of a new roundabout, pedestrian crossing, cycle path and bus shelters, recently approved by Essex Highways.
Earlier this year, IBSA representatives attended Stock and West Hanningfield Annual General Meetings, where they answered a series of questions regarding the development.
A spokesman said: "Feedback received from these meetings is of value to us, enabling us to address any concerns raised by those in the community."
By Guest Nicole
The Jehovah's Witnesses have just put onto the sale market a development site in the heart of DUMBO, 69 Adams St.
The building that now occupies the site has a four-story recreational facility and an 84-space parking garage.
Its rooftop is graced with an open-air tennis court — which is topped by a fence so cars and pedestrians down below don't accidentally get pelted with over-exuberantly hit balls.
The Watchtower recently posted the sale offering online without alerting reporters.
According to the posting, 69 Adams St. is “a 157,410-square-foot development opportunity adjacent to the iconic Manhattan Bridge.”
The Jehovah's Witnesses did not offer any comment about their sale offering to the Brooklyn Eagle when asked about it. They did give the Eagle permission to publish their images of 69 Adams St.
Zoned for as-of-right residential development
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission doesn't have any control over what is built at 69 Adams St. because it is located outside the neighborhood's historic districts.
Because of the site's zoning, “a new luxury residential tower with commercial, community facility and retail uses” can be built as-of-right, the Watchtower's online description of the site notes.
The religious organization, which has had a major presence in the area for more than a century, is in the throes of selling off its once enormous property portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. That's because the Jehovah's Witnesses are relocating their headquarters to upstate Warwick, N.Y.
The 69 Adams St. site has 103 feet of Front Street frontage. It's caddy-corner to upscale food market Foragers, and shares its block with a handsome residential tower, 85 Adams St.
If a residential tower is built at 69 Adams St., it will have views of Lower Manhattan's skyscrapers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the East River and the Midtown Manhattan skyline.
According to city Finance Department records, the site has belonged to the Watchtower since 1991, when the organization purchased it from LI Machine & Pattern Works Inc.
Another Watchtower property recently sold for $105 Mil
The Jehovah's Witnesses began a new round of property offerings this past December. Since then, the organization has closed on the $105 million sale of 124 Columbia Heights, a 10-story residential building on the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights, to Florida Panthers hockey team owner Vincent Viola, Finance Department records indicate.
Also, the Watchtower has made a handshake deal to sell its Brooklyn Heights headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights and a nearly 1 million-square-foot development site at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO for roughly $700 million, the New York Postpreviously reported. The buyer is Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
In addition to 69 Adams St., the other Watchtower property that's currently available for sale is 107 Columbia Heights, a 154,000-plus square-foot residential property in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.
Several other Watchtower properties in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO have not yet been put up for sale.
By Guest Nicole
Part of a series on:
9 Apr 2016 02:11 PM EST
-by Laura Tucker, Staff Writer; Image: Prince Rogers Nelson performing in the 1980s (Image Source: Yves Lorson via Wikimedia Commons)
We've been hearing this week that Prince might not have had a will, and that if that is the case, by Minnesota law, his closest living relative would be rewarded with his estate. In this case it would be his full sister, Tyka Nelson.
Out of all this confusion, a trust company has now been appointed to help manage his estate until someone else officially takes over.
Prince was divorced twice, and his only child died at just one week old. His sister Tyka, also a singer, is a recovering addict who at one time lived in a crack house. She and her brother were somewhat distant at one point but grew closer as of late. In addition, he has five half-siblings from his father's second marriage.
After stating earlier that she believed there was no will and that she was the only benefactor, Tyka asked for the appointment of a special administrator because she believed immediate decisions need to be made regarding his business interests.
Brewer Trust has now been named special administrator of the estate as the result of an informal telephone conference with Prince's possible heirs and a judge.
The judge has decided that Bremer Trust has the authority to manage and supervisor the musician's assets and to determine his heirs. They will have this role for six months or until a personal representative is appointed.
It has been said that the estate could be worth as much as $800 million. In addition to that there is a known vault that contains up to 2,000 recordings of his that were never released. Prince was in control of those as well as all of his other music.
However, because of Prince's close association with the Jehovah's Witnesses, some have assumed that he would have left at least some of his fortune to them, yet nothing in that realm has been substantiated yet.
By Guest Nicole
by Claude Scales on April 14, 2016 10:30 pm in Brooklyn Heights, News, Real Estate, Watchtower
The Real Deal reports that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are putting another of their Brooklyn Heights properties up for sale: the nine story, presently 161 unit residential building at 107 Columbia Heights, which sits at the southeast corner of Columbia Heights and Cranberry Street. The piece quotes Tucker Reed, of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, as estimating that the building could fetch around $154 million. BHB reader Andrew Porter posted this comment on the Real Deal story:
"Really ugly modernist building with non-traditional window arrangement. The best thing going for it is the lovely garden and fountain entrance on the Columbia Heights side, which is the actual entrance."
Photo by moi for BHB.
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