DOB says iconic Watchtower sign was illegal for half a century

Developers are fighting agency to install new sign

Brooklyn's Watchtower at 25 Columbia Heights (Credit: Marcos Vinícius Silva via Flickr and iStock)
Brooklyn's Watchtower at 25 Columbia Heights (Credit: Marcos Vinícius Silva via Flickr and iStock)

It turns out the iconic Watchtower sign — recently removed by a joint venture of CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings — hovered above Brooklyn Heights illegally for half a century.

According to the city’s Department of Buildings, the sign and the E.R. Squibb & Sons’ sign it replaced in 1970 were installed on the roof of 25-30 Columbia Heights illegally. For this reason, the DOB is preventing the building’s new owners from putting a new sign on its roof, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.

The joint venture of developers removed the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ sign in December, as part of a redevelopment of the building into an office and retail complex dubbed “Panorama.” The developers, who purchased the building in 2016 for $340 million, left the sign’s framework, paving the way for a replacement sign.

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Kushner Companies previously owned a small stake in the property but sold it in June.

The DOB maintains that Squibb never obtained permits for its sign, meaning that putting a sign on the building would represent a structural alteration. The joint venture is appealing the DOB’s decision before the Board of Standards and Appeals. [Brooklyn Eagle] Kathryn Brenzel