In 1998 the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced plans to build a giant new research and development center in New London, Connecticut. As part of the deal, city officials agreed to clear out neighboring property owners via eminent domain, giving a private developer space to build a fancy new hotel, apartment buildings, and office towers to complement the Pfizer facility. Seven years later, in Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this seizure of private property because it was part of a “comprehensive redevelopment plan” that would provide “appreciable benefits to the community.”
So how did that work out? The project that was used to entice Pfizer was never built, and in November the company announced that it was closing down its facility and pulling out of New London.
“I’m sure that there are people that are waiting out there to say, ‘I told you so,’ ” declared New London Councilman Robert Pero. He’s right about that. As Scott Bullock, one of the attorneys who represented the New London property owners before the Supreme Court, told the Washington Examiner, “This shows the folly of these redevelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.”