What Ever Happened to the Kelo House?

This Monday is the third anniversary of Kelo v. City of New London, the notorious decision where the Supreme Court upheld that city's use of eminent domain on behalf of the Pfizer Corporation. So what's the status of the "comprehensive" and "revitalized" development site today? Here's the Institute for Justice, the libertarian public interest firm that litigated the case:

Like so many other projects that use eminent domain and rely on taxpayer subsidies, New London's Fort Trumbull project has been a failure. After spending $78 million in taxpayer dollars, the city of New London and the private developer have engaged in no new construction since the project was approved in 2000. Indeed, since the property owners disputing the takings owned less than two acres in a 90-acre project area, the city has always had a vast majority of the land available for development. Yet, no new development has occurred. The preferred developer for part of the site, Corcoran Jennison, recently missed its latest deadline for securing financing for building on the site and was terminated as the "designated developer."

The property at the center of the case, the house owned by plaintiff Susette Kelo, has since been relocated in its entirety to another part of town. And tomorrow is the grand re-opening, complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony. If you're in the area, stop by and thank Susette Kelo and the fine folks at the Institute for Justice for fighting the good fight. Details here.

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  • Episiarch||

    Maybe because New London is a shithole?

    By the way, it's Pfizer.

  • YMNGH||

    I think a similar thing happened with the GM project that uprooted Pole Town in Michigan. It was also a failure.

  • ||

    What ever happened to the city's claims that the Kelos owed them back-rent for the time they occupied the house after the initial seizure attempt?

  • robc||

    I received an IfJ magazine recently in the mail with this information in the story. It was addressed to the woman I bought my house from. I wonder if the woman that bought my condo finds any oddball mailings directed to me as interesting?

  • ||

    Thanks, Episiarch. Spelling fixed.

  • Taktix&#174||

    Just curious: What is more blighted?

    1: Several houses that, while not exactly from Park Avenue, are nice.

    2: A big, empty fucking lot.

  • ||

    Kelo v. New London, the gift that keeps on giving. We're from the goverment and we're here to help.

  • ||

    robc | June 20, 2008, 10:35am | #
    I received an IfJ magazine recently in the mail with this information in the story. It was addressed to the woman I bought my house from. I wonder if the woman that bought my condo finds any oddball mailings directed to me as interesting?


    Now that you mention it, I haven't seen an issue of Lusty Libertarian since I moved.

  • ||

    Area clearance plans suck. We've known this for decades.

    What a freaking boondoggle.

  • PBR Streetgang||

    Shocking.

  • Matt Moore||

    Taktix®: A big empty lot (covered in weeds and such) isn't that unattractive, but I'd like to see a picture. Is it a huge field of mud, dotted with big piles of mud, with those rotting houses, surrounded by cheap fences, sitting at the edge?

    Because that would be very nice looking.

  • ||

    2: A big, empty fucking lot.

    It's "open space"!

  • ||

    No, it's classified as "Vacant Land."

  • ||

    I think a similar thing happened with the GM project that uprooted Pole Town in Michigan. It was also a failure.

    Not quite so fucked up actually. The General Motors Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant was in fact built and remains in use to this day.

    The Michigan Supreme Court has since repudiated it's original decision that economic developement purposes constituted public use. In Michigan this crap is no longer allowed. It is worth remembering that 1,300 homes, 140 businesses, six churches and one hospital were taken.

  • ||

    No, it's classified as "Vacant Land."

    sigh...it was a joke, joe.

  • ||

    Sigh, it was also a legitimate point.

    People misuse the term "open space," so I saw my opening and took it.

    Sue me.

  • Sara||

    What if Kelo had dropped a few endangered critters on the property? Some microscopic fly of some fun sort...
    Would they still have tried to take her home?
    Is that a tactic property owners could try in the future?

  • Rhywun||

    People misuse the term "open space,"



    Of course they do - it's a meaningless, empty term that people can bend to whatever use they want.

  • Kolohe||

    Maybe because New London is a shithole?

    Well, the Coast Guard Academy grounds are kinda nice.

    And when you are looking at it from EB, it does look rather like the archetype of New England quaintness. Esp when you then turn around and have Groton in your face.

  • ||

    Rhywun,

    Any word can become meaningless through misuse. Hence, my desire to see it used correctly.

  • ||

    Ever see those crappy "open space" concrete wastelands in front of 60s/70s-era highrises in NYC, Rhwyun?

    That's what you get when you allow the term "open space" to mean nothing and everything at the same time.

    If you want less of that, you try to pin down a meaning.

  • Rhywun||

    Hence, my desire to see it used correctly.



    Being a phrase, not a word, it's much more open to misuse, don't you think? I'm pretty well-read in these matters, and I've never seen a proper definition for it.

  • Matt Moore||

    They use the term open space correctly out here around Denver... it's usually a huge field covered with native plants with a bike trail through it.

    Back on the east coast, though, open space was that horrible "walking mall" downtown that no one walked in because it was windy and hard and gray and awful... basically a glorified alley.

  • ||

    I'm pretty well-read in these matters, and I've never seen a proper definition for it.

    I agree, that certainly is a problem in a lot of zoning codes.

    "Mr. Chairman, there ain't no building over here where we put the dumpster."

    "Well, ok then. I'll entertain a motion..."

  • Rhywun||

    Ever see those crappy "open space" concrete wastelands in front of 60s/70s-era highrises in NYC, Rhwyun?



    Sure... "plazas". Another misuse meant to evoke something it's not.

    My problem with the phrase is that it's deliberately vague enough to make people think of "parkland" when instead it usually means "snob zoning".

  • ||

    People misuse the term "open space,"

    Around here it's largely code for, "I don't want to actually buy that guy's five thousand acres, but I think I should be able to tell him exactly what he can and cannot do with/ on it.

  • Episiarch||

    Rhywun lives in the boroughs, so he is used to "vacant lots".

    (says the smug former Upper East Side Manhattanite)

  • Rhywun||

    Rhywun lives in the boroughs, so he is used to "vacant lots".



    ?

    Dude, where've you been? There are no vacant lots anywhere in NYC any more. Certainly none in my corner of Brooklyn.

  • Episiarch||

    Just busting your balls, dude. Where in Brooklyn are you? I used to be out in Canarsie all the time because a friend lived there.

  • Nigel Watt||

    In Houston, open space means nicely vegetated land around a building, because Houston has much less coercion in its buildings codes than any other major city that I know of.

  • Rhywun||

    Bay Ridge.

    I lived in Queens for seven years and the pace of filling in all the vacant lots and even replacing tons of hundred-year-old houses with larger apartment buildings was really remarkable.

    Seems much more "stable" here in Brooklyn.

  • ||

    I've heard that vacant lots are even getting tough to find in the South Bronx.

  • ||

    I've heard that vacant lots are even getting tough to find in the South Bronx.

    Detroit is somewhat different. I actually kinda like vacant lots. They're an improvement over the abandoned and burnt out houses/businesses they replace.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Can you give us a defintion of open space so that we can use it properly?

  • Episiarch||

    Seems much more "stable" here in Brooklyn.

    That's what I've seen.

    My friend's father (a famous psychologist) lives in Sea Gate. We used to have beach parties...in NYC! It was cool.

  • Paul||

    Is that a tactic property owners could try in the future?

    Already been done successfully. The government, the world's largest and ultimate property owner does this to "renters" all the time. The person "living" on the property decides to do something with it, and the real property owner (government) swoops and and "finds" a rare endangered snail and shuts the permit process down.

    What needs to be figured out, is how we the renters can do this when the landlord (government) wants put their own development on the property.

  • ||

    robc,

    1. The parts of a lot designed and developed for pleasant appearance in trees, shrubs, ground cover and grass, including other landscaped elements, such as natural features of the site, walks and terraces,or for outdoor use by the occupants of the lot for recreation, including swimming pools, tennis courts or similar facilities, for gardens or for household service activities. (To refer to the "Open Space" portion of a developed lot).

    2. Undeveloped land free of structures and left in or restored to a natural condition, or improved for outdoor recreational use. (To refer to land whose primary land use is conservation or recreation, ie, parks, playgrounds, woods, etc.)

    Plain old "land not having anything on it" could mean demolition lots left to grow weeds, parking lots, and other blighting influences.

    Want me to define blight now?

  • TallDave||

    My favorite part of this was when Souter's own town reacted to the decision by condemning his house.

  • TallDave||

    As I recall, their proposal was to remove Souter's house for the construction of a "Center for Property Rights."

    Heh.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Wouldnt "vacant lot" fall under #2? Maybe not ALL vacant lots (like the leftover parking lot) but many?

    You can define blight if you want, but Im a believer in "blight is in the eye of the landowner".

  • robc||

    TallDave,

    The town didnt condemn his house. One person proposed a hotel/resort (which would bring in more tax dollars) for that property and asked the town to seize it Kelo style for the project. The town rejected the proposal.

    Are you making up urban myths or just repeating them?

  • ||

    robc,

    If you just tear down a house and grade the lot, you get a weed-strewn lot, probably one full of trash bags and car parts. Not terribly useful for recreation or conservation.

    I guess consistent use by the n'hood kids as a baseball diamond would succeed in stunting the weeds and wearing lines into it, but then, that would be a form of improving it.

    A vacant lot can certainly be improved into a recreational resource, but just being vacant in and of itself doesn't get you there.

  • ||

    What WOULD fit into my defintion of "open space" are those crappy, windswept plaza Rhywun and I were talking about.

    Those are open space, and meet NYC's old definition of open space. They were just crappy open space, built to meet a crappy definition.

  • robc||

    joe,

    I wasnt referring to the recreational resource, but the "restored to a natural condition".

    Big lot full o' weeds is a fairly natural condition.

  • TallDave||

    rpbc,

    Ah, here we go:
    "
    For Release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media
    For Release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media

    Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

    Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

    On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

    Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

    The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

    Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

    "This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

    Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others."

    So they tried to have his house condemned or seized, but apparently failed.

    They claim it wasn't a prank, but there's obviously a tongue-in-cheekness to the whole effort.

    Still funny either way.

  • ||

    robc,

    A dirt lot doesn't vegetate into anything close to a natural condition for decades until mature trees form enough of a canopy to keep the herb layer shaded, if you just let it sit there, especially if it's in a city neighborhood well away from native green spaces. It gets taken over by invasives - poison ivy, or non-native weeds, first. It takes a purposeful planting and management schedule to turn such a lot back into something natural.

  • ||

    This Monday is the third anniversary for the Supreme Court's infamous decision of Kelo v. New London. For the anniversary, Susette Kelo is hoping that those who strongly oppose eminent domain support the Institute for Justice (IJ) in its effort to end eminent domain abuse. You can help support this powerful message by donating to the Institute for Justice, and help curtail the incidence of eminent domain abuse, which in the past five years alone included over 10,000 cases.


    To donate or to view more information, check out www.ij.org/keloday

    Feel free to spread the word!


    Thanks, and have a great summer!

  • robc||

    joe,

    Mother nature will take care of it, it just may take, as you said, decades.

    It doesnt take either purposeful plantings or a management schedule. Just leave it the fuck alone for 20 years (although that could be considered a management schedule).

    Invasives are natural too. They exist for a reason. They are the first movers in any kind of natural conversion. Also, depending where you are, tree coverage may or may not be natural.

  • ||

    robc,

    That's if the lot is left alone for decades, and not just 2, either.

    A vacant lot in a city neighborhood? Unlikely. Even if it isn't built on, it will be dumped on and otherwise messed with, impeding probably permanently that process.

    Invasives are natural too. They exist for a reason. They are the first movers in any kind of natural conversion. You mean pioneer species, and of course they do. But what I'm saying is, in urbanized America, the pioneer species that take hold will be invasives - that is, pioneer species from elsewhere that grow out of control because of a lack of the forces (predators or environmental conditions) that keep them in check in their native habitat. Because these species will establish themselves first and take over, the native pioneer species won't.

    J sub D lives in Detroit. J sub, any of those vacant lots look like forests yet?

    But, to get back to your orignial question, the lot wouldn't function as open space as I defined it above, as the weed-strewn lot would have minimal or no recreational value (ever actually seen one of those things? You wanna camp there?) and minimal or no conservation value (as the population by invasive species would prevent it from being good habitat.) And that's assuming it was actually left alone to revegetate.

  • ||

    J sub D lives in Detroit. J sub, any of those vacant lots look like forests yet?

    It takes approx 10-20 years for a vacant lot to transition to new forest (scattered 5 ft trees, lots of bushes) in southeast Michigan. Plentiful water is not an issue. The transition could be speeded up by removing all of the grass which hinders other plants from taking root. If you were to spread Round Up on the abandoned property, killing the existing lawn, you'd shorten that timeframe a bit.

    Seriously, in Motown we now have wild foxes living in abandoned neighborhoods. Predators are a good indication that land is returning to nature.

  • ||

    Detroit does have larger vacant areas than your typical city, so that makes sense. I've seen aerials photos showing whole city blocks with only one or two houses remaining.

  • robc||

    Ive been wanting to make a subtle Motie Museum reference for a while in this thread, but couldnt think of a way to word it. So, ummm, there it is.

  • ||

    Detroit does have larger vacant areas than your typical city, so that makes sense. I've seen aerials photos showing whole city blocks with only one or two houses remaining.

    Jusat to give y'all an indication of what's been going on for 1/2 a goddamed century here. In 1955 the est. population of Detroit was 1.9 million. it was the 4th largest city in the nation. Present population is < 900,000. One million people have left the city in 50 years.

    So yeah, there is considerable vacant, previously developed, property. It really is interesting watching the transition. Nature is far more resilient than most people think. Pheasants, foxes, 'coons, bunny wabbits, 'possums, owls, falsons, etc. have all returned. I will not be surprised when whitetail deer move back in.

  • ||

    One million people have left the city in 50 years.

    Can any of these sites be google Earthed. I apologize if "google earth," is not the proper verb.

  • Paul||

    A dirt lot doesn't vegetate into anything close to a natural condition for decades until mature trees form enough of a canopy to keep the herb layer shaded, if you just let it sit there, especially if it's in a city neighborhood well away from native green spaces. It gets taken over by invasives - poison ivy, or non-native weeds,

    Joe... ever been to the southwest? Where da natural, mature trees at? A graded, vacant lot resembles something exactly like the natural terrain. Trees don't grow in the desert, so what shades the herb layer?

    Yeah, I know, I'm just picking nits, but I couldn't let it go.

  • ||

    troy,

    That's what I first thought of too...just enter Detroit, zoom in to downtown, and go a mile or two in any direction. It is quite astonishing.

  • george||

    joe

    Want me to define blight now?



    Please don't. You(plural) could fill a terabyte of server space and not get a definitive definition.

  • ||

    That's what I first thought of too...just enter Detroit, zoom in to downtown, and go a mile or two in any direction. It is quite astonishing.

    Wow. That is an eye-opener.

  • ||

    Paul,

    Your point is that the natural vegetation layer in the southwest is different than in other regions?

    Wow. Good one. You sure got me there.

    Point?

  • robc||

    joe,

    You said:

    A dirt lot doesn't vegetate into anything close to a natural condition for decades until mature trees form enough of a canopy to keep the herb layer shaded

    Paul's point is that you made a universal statement that isnt true in the SW, for example. In the SW, a dirt lot is already "close to a natural condition".

  • ||

    OK.

  • Bob Mologna||

    J sub D: I'm planning a trip to Detroit in the autumn just to wander around and see the place. Any interesting recommendations? I'll be staying downtown at the Milner hotel and plan to do a lot of walking, how's the municipal bus system? Thanks.

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