The Kelo v. New London in a new light


Pfizer said it would pull 1,400 jobs out of New London within two years and move most of them a few miles away to a campus it owns in Groton, Conn., as a cost-cutting measure. It would leave behind the city’s biggest office complex and an adjacent swath of barren land that was cleared of dozens of homes to make room for a hotel, stores and condominiums that were never built.

This decision by Pfizer to Leave New London, Connecticut is going to profoundly impact future eminent domain cases and gives a major boost to libertarians. The landmark SC ruling was unique in the sense that it acquired private land that included a built home to hand over to another private party for the “public good”. Without conditions to ensure that Pfizer would indeed add 1,400 jobs to the New London as promised, its decision to leave after just eight years is not surprising. Pfizer’s decision to move away puts paid to New London’s hopes of revitalizing the area around Kelo’s home by building an “urban village” to attract shoppers and tourists. So in effect, is Pfizer really responsible for making the city assume that they would stay forever? But Susette Kelo’s pink house still stands after it was moved across town by preservationist Avner Gregory who bought it for $1.

2 thoughts on “The Kelo v. New London in a new light

  1. You mean 1400 jobs and not 14000, right?

    New London is already a tourist town. Due to its big port, there are cruise ships that come to town with lots of tourists every Summer. Creating the ‘urban center’ was New London’s idea and they were trying cash in on Pfizer’s presence in the area. Pfizer had built the facility on land acquired not through ‘Eminent Domain’ and had people working there before the eminent domain case about the neighborhood, came into picture.

    It makes a nice story of little guy fighting the hegemony of the government. Something that both Glenn Beck and Keith Olberman would have wet dreams about. 🙂

  2. Parag,

    Oops!. It is 1,400. Fixed.

    Re: the blame game, I would definitely pin most of it on the city. In fact, the city in its bid to attract Pfizer decided to create this ‘urban center’ hoping to boost its livability. I’m not sure how many incentives were offered to Pfizer to relocate here. Competition in the ;ocal economic development has often seen the race to the bottom by regions and cities with higher incentives and tax credits offered in order to get industry to relocate to their jurisdiction but rarely are conditions put forward to keep the industry there for a fixed amount of time. This may be necessary to recover their investment but often intense regional competition makes cities/states ignore such conditions. It is a risk as New London found out the hard way.

    It requires nuanced debate which is not likely in today’s ‘balloon boy’ media.

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