Shameful: Pfizer abandons site of infamous Kelo eminent domain taking

The Washington Examiner reports, Pfizer abandons site of infamous Kelo eminent domain taking (H/T Professor K. on FB)

The private homes that New London, Conn., took away from Suzette Kelo and her neighbors have been torn down. Their former site is a wasteland of fields of weeds, a monument to the power of eminent domain.

But now Pfizer, the drug company whose neighboring research facility had been the original cause of the homes’ seizure, has just announced that it is closing up shop in New London.

To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost. Five justices found this redevelopment met the constitutional hurdle of “public use.”

Pfizer Inc. will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday….

Pfizer is now deciding what to do with its giant New London offices, and will consider selling it, leasing it and other options, a company spokeswoman said.

This tragedy of property rights reveals the pitfalls of eminent domain takings for private development. Suzette Kelo’s home was taken by eminent domain. Years later, Pfizer abandoned the property, but Kelo’s little pink house was no longer (thought it was moved across town).

Scott Bullock, put it succinctly “This shows the folly of these redevelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.”

For shame.

Update: Thanks for the Hat Tip Professor Somin.


6 Responses to “Shameful: Pfizer abandons site of infamous Kelo eminent domain taking”

  1. Lauren Says:

    I think the massive negative reaction to the Kelo case did more to doom the Pfizer project than the “folly” of the town’s redevelopment scheme. Luring Big Pharma to your city is almost always a sure bet, and having a large, well-paying, growth-minded employer could have saved New London from its now-inevitable demise. No one really knows how well the project would have turned out had the news media and policy wonks ignored it like every other dying city eminent domain takings case.

    But Kelo was such a unique case. For once, you had a plaintiff sympathetic to everyone- a white nurse with a sick husband in a cute pink house, instead of a feared urban poor minority in a “ramshackle” rowhome. The massive national reaction doomed the project almost immediately. Who would want to go to work on the same site where a woman had her beloved family home stolen from her, or live in a town that encouraged such an outcome? Humans are a superstitious lot, and we don’t dance on others’ graves. That whole lot is tainted now and I’d be surprised if anything ever went up there.

    To conclude, I would encourage anyone looking at the failure of this particular project to view it more as a product of negative public reaction than of the folly of government redevelopment projects. The only folly New London city government made was not anticipating the scope of the public reaction.

  2. troll_dc2 Says:

    It would be nice to think that the public-relations disaster that the Kelo decision became doomed the project. But if the economy had not gone into recession and if Pfizer were not merging with Wyeth, the project might well have been built anyway.

    I am not complaining though. I have always believed that there is no warrant for seizing private property to give to developers or other private entities. It is good to see that this seizure leaves New London worse off than it would be if it had done nothing.

  3. The Volokh Conspiracy » Blog Archive » Pfizer Corporation Plans to Abandon New London Headquarters that Led to the Kelo Takings Says:

    […] that it will close down its headquarters in New London, Connecticut. [HT: my former student Josh Blackman, and other VC readers]. As our regular readers may recall, Pfizer played a key role in instigating […]

  4. Pfizer to Abandon Land Taken for Them by Big Brother « Count Us Out Says:

    […] that it will close down its headquarters in New London, Connecticut. [HT: my former student Josh Blackman, and other VC readers]. As our regular readers may recall, Pfizer played a key role in instigating […]

  5. BJB Says:


    You need to add a share this link to your blog so I can uplink you to my blog when you have something good that I’d like to share with my readers. I mean it would be much cooler/easier than simply cutting and pasting your link into my blog.


    • Josh Blackman Says:

      Thanks for the tip BJB.

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