Posts tagged ‘Fort Trumbull’

Kelo Update

The AntiPlanner has an update on the New London, CT development that spawned the notorious Kelo case.  In short, they tore Ms. Kelo's house down against her will, and then the whole development deal fell through.  The city now has a nice vacant lot.

The homes of Susette Kelo and her neighbors have all been torn down or removed. But, except for the remodeling of one government building into another government building, virtually no new development had taken place in the Fort Trumbull district by May, 2008.

Having spent at least $78 million on the Fort Trumbull project, the city had awarded development rights to a company named Corcoran Jennison, which planned to build a hotel, an office complex, and more than 100 upscale housing units. The developer had until November, 2007, to obtain financing.

When that deadline lapsed, it received an extension to May 29, 2008. In desperation, the developer sought an FHA loan of $11.5 million. When that didn't work and May 29 came and went, New London revoked the agreement.

Pfizer's Role in Kelo Takings

I have hashed through my pain over the Supreme Court Kelo decision any number of times, including my post before the decision, after the decsion, following up on more New London antics, and following up on abuses in other locations (and here).

One of the first things I did after the decision was to write the CEO of Pfizer a letter, complaining about their role in getting the New London government to take peoples homes so their managers could have nice views of the water.  I was surprised at the time that more people, particularly those on the left who don't usually need a good excuse to bash corporations, didn't put more blame on Pfizer rather than just New London.  However, up until now, Pfizer has claimed that the redevelopment plan in New London had nothing to do with them, and they just came in later as a tenant.

Based on investigation by The Day ($), the New London paper (hat tip: Volokh), it is becoming more apparent that the Kelo takings were in fact driven mainly by specific requirements set by Pfizer, and that Pfizer was hip-deep in the redevelopment planning:

Pfizer's Fingerprints On Fort Trumbull Plan

Documents show the pharmaceutical giant was involved in the Fort Trumbull
project form its inception, even before announcing its research center would
expand into the New London neighborhood

In mid-July, as commentators and politicians around the country decried this
city's attempt to seize private homes for economic development on the Fort
Trumbull peninsula, a press release appeared on the Web site of Pfizer Inc.

The pharmaceutical company, whose $300 million research complex sits adjacent
to what remains of the neighborhood, announced that it wanted to set the record
straight on its involvement in the Fort Trumbull development project.

The project, the statement said, wasn't Pfizer's idea.

"We at Pfizer have been dismayed to see false and misleading claims appear in
the media that suggest Pfizer is somehow involved in this matter," the statement
said. The writers said the company "has no requirements nor interest in the
development of the land that is the subject of the case."

But a recent, months-long review of state records and correspondence from
1997 and 1998 "” when officials from the administration of then-Gov. John G.
Rowland were helping convince the pharmaceutical giant to build in New London "”
shows that statement is misleading, at best.

In fact, the company has been intimately involved in the project since its
inception, consulting with state and city officials about the plans for the
peninsula and helping to shape the vision of how the faded neighborhood might
eventually be transformed into a complex of high-end housing and office space,
anchored by a luxury hotel.

The records "” obtained by The Day through the state Freedom of Information
Act "” show that, at least as early as the fall of 1997, Pfizer executives and
state economic development officials were discussing the company's plans, not
just for a new research facility but for the surrounding neighborhood as

And, after several requests, the state Department of Economic and Community
Development produced a document that both the state and Pfizer had at first said
did not exist: A 1997 sketch, prepared by CUH2A, Pfizer's design firm for its
new facility. Labeled as a "vision statement," it suggested various ways the
existing neighborhood and nearby vacant Navy facility could be replaced with a
"high end residential district," offices and retail businesses, expanded parking
and a marina.

Those interactions took place months before Pfizer announced that it would
build in the city, on the site of the former New London Mills linoleum factory,
and months before the New London Development Corp. announced its redevelopment
plans for the neighborhood and the former Naval Undersea Warfare Center next

The paper concludes:

But in a series of recent interviews, several former high-ranking state
officials confirmed what opponents of the project have long insisted and what
the company continues to deny: The state's agreement to replace the existing
neighborhood was a condition of Pfizer's move here.

Current and former Pfizer executives, meanwhile, concede that the company
expected a major redevelopment of the area to occur and offered guidance, but
they strongly deny that they insisted on specific changes.