The Real Deal New York

Virtu CEO Vincent Viola pays $105M for Jehovah’s Witnesses building in BK Heights

Property at 124 Columbia Heights is one of several the religious group is selling off
By Kathryn Brenzel | April 29, 2016 06:44PM

124 Columbia Heights in Downtown Brooklyn

124 Columbia Heights in Downtown Brooklyn (inset: Vincent Viola)

UPDATE: 11:09 a.m., May 2. Virtu Financial founder and CEO Vincent Viola has closed a $105 million deal with the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a religious dormitory.

Viola, who also owns the Florida Panthers, has purchased 124 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights, a dormitory building that spans 152,670 square feet, property records filed this week show. The building is one of three that the religious group was actively marketing as it moves its headquarters to Warwick in Orange County.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are also selling its current world headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights. The third property is a block-long development site at 85 Jay Street in Dumbo. Some of the city’s biggest landlords, including Silverstein Properties and Vornado Realty Trust, reportedly bid on the properties. In 2013, Jared Kushner, RFR Realty, Invesco and LIVWRK paid $375 million for a portfolio that includes five industrial buildings and a hotel owned by the religious organization.

The Virtu head honcho recently made another buy in the neighborhood. In September, he and his wife Teresa scooped up a 12-story rental building in Brooklyn Heights for $35 million. Teresa, president of invitation maker Maida Vale Designs, signed the deed for 124 Columbia Heights.

Correction: Virtu Financial is not the buyer of 124 Columbia Heights; Viola made the purchase as a private investor. He also purchased the 12-story rental in Brooklyn Heights in September privately.