Eminent Domain

Eminent Domain for No One's Gain: New London Groundbreaking Ceremony Postponed

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In case you were wondering what's happening in New London, Connecticut, proud home to the nation's most famous dump, the answer is still a whole lot of nothing. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed New London officials to seize an entire neighborhood via eminent domain on the basis that the city had a "carefully considered" plan to boost economic development.

After the initial plan—a corporate campus with hotels, condos, and office space—fell apart, officials selected a new developer to build an apartment complex on a portion of the razed neighborhood, Fort Trumbull, in 2010. Yesterday, the developer missed a second deadline to show they had secured financing.

David Collins at The Day has details on the deal:

On deck to take the land for free, and then not pay taxes on it, is a father-and-son development team from Fairfield County and New York City, Irwin and Robert Stillman.

In return for the free land, the Stillmans, according to the development agreement they signed 2½ years ago, are supposed to prove they are going to build a big apartment complex and have the financing to finish it.

That proof was lacking, so officials axed Monday's planned groundbreaking.

More from David Collins:

In opening the annual meeting of the New London Development Corp. [last month], agency President Michael Joplin made what seemed intended as a joke, saying people might have seen him earlier down on his knees in front of the mayor….

No one laughed.

In fact, I saw a lot of puzzled faces and nervous squirming in the room, as people seemed to wonder if they had heard right.

One possible scenario Joplin was suggesting is that he was down on his knees begging the mayor to let him stay on as NLDC president. But he needn't have bothered.

The mayor, who vigorously campaigned on the promise that he would abolish the much-hated NLDC, which famously destroyed a city neighborhood after taking the homes by eminent domain, simply changed the name instead last year and said Joplin would go as president.

Well, Joplin was re-elected president … in a strange meeting in which other principal officers were also returned to office, even though some of them didn't bother to attend.

See more Reason coverage of the nation's premier eminent domain debacle here and here and here.