Jehovah’s Witnesses Propose 1.5 Million-Square-Foot Production Complex in Ramapo, Tuxedo
John Jordan | October 2019
RAMAPO—The Jehovah’s Witnesses intend to file development plans for a new 1.5-million-square-foot audio-video production facility to be built two miles away from its 1.6-million-square-foot World Headquarters complex in Warwick.
The project was revealed during a special event on Oct. 5th following the annual corporation meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
The project site at 155 Sterling Mine Road totals 249 acres. The majority of the property is located in the Town of Ramapo (242) acres in Rockland County with seven acres contained in the neighboring Town of Tuxedo in Orange County.
In addition to the production facility, the complex will also include offices, residences, underground parking, a fitness area and a visitor center for the public. The project is expected to be an integrated working and living facility designed to support Jehovah’s Witnesses’ increasing production of Bible-based audio and video programs.
Robert Zick, a spokesman for the world headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, told Real Estate In-Depth that when completed, the new facility will accommodate approximately 1,000 volunteers who will live and work at the site. Some operations currently housed at Jehovah Witnesses’ properties in Patterson in Putnam County will be shifted to the Ramapo complex, he said.
No development cost for the project was released. Zick said the Jehovah’s Witnesses are projecting a two-year time period to secure necessary approvals and another four years thereafter to complete the project.
The Witnesses purchased the 259-acre site in 2009. It was previously approved for an adult residential development by previous owner Lorterdan Properties.
The property had been considered as the site for its world headquarters until the Jehovah’s Witnesses eventually selected the property in nearby Warwick. Zick said that when the need for audio-visual production facilities emerged, it made sense to consider properties it owned and had considered for development previously.
Keith Cady, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated the demand for the Jehovah Witnesses publications and videos prompted the need for the new facility. “Our organization goes to great lengths to share the Bible’s message with others, free of charge. Our printed publications are well-known all over the world, but in recent years, we have greatly increased our production of audio programs and films,” Cady said. “They are now central features of our official website, jw.org; our app, JW Library®; and our annual conventions. We currently film and record in properties throughout the Hudson Valley. This move would consolidate our studio space into one facility near our world headquarters to streamline production.”
The new project followed the sale of many of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ properties in Brooklyn and the relocation of operations and volunteers to its World Headquarters complex in Warwick in August 2016. Between 800 to 1,000 volunteers live and work at the World Headquarters property.
One of the larger of the sales deals was in 2016 when the Kushner Cos., bought the Watchtower headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights and a development site at 85 Jay St., in Brooklyn for $685 million, according to a report in Globest.com. In 2017, Kayne Anderson acquired the Jehovah Witnesses’ 21 Clark St. apartment building in Brooklyn for approximately $200 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.