The Real Deal New York

Vincent Viola, Trump’s first pick for Army Secretary, plans resi building at Watchtower site

The 101 apartments will replace 237 dorms
By Kathryn Brenzel | July 21, 2017 05:00PM

The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ building at 124 Columbia Heights (credit: Getty Images) and Vincent Viola

Vincent Viola, the billionaire trader who was President Trump’s first nominee for Army Secretary, plans to turn a Jehovah’s Witness dormitory in Brooklyn Heights into apartments.

Viola, the CEO of Virtu Financial, purchased the property at 124 Columbia Heights last year for $105 million. According to plans filed Friday, the building’s 237 dorm rooms will be replaced with 101 apartments.

HS2 Architecture is the architect of record. Salvatore Caiola, a contractor listed as a representative for the owner, didn’t return a call seeking more information on his role on the project.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses has been gradually selling off its real estate holdings over the last few years as it prepared to move its headquarters to Warwick in Orange County. The organization started marketing the Columbia Heights site and two others in late 2015. Last year, the group
sold its headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights to developers Kushner Companies, CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings for $340 million. The partners also purchased 85 Jay Street from the Witnesses a few months later for $345 million.

Trump tapped Viola to be secretary of the Army, one of the first nominations he made after his inauguration. Viola took himself out of the running in February, citing his business ties.