Now, though, the tables may be turned on the drugmaker, which wants to revamp a 15-acre site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where until recently it operated a plant for more than a century. A local assemblyman isn't content with Pfizer's plans to sell the property to a private developer, who would replace the plant with mixed-use development that the drugmaker maintains will include affordable housing. Vito Lopez, however, wants to use eminent domain - of all things - to seize the property, because he doesn't believe enough, if any truly affordable housing will be created.
"For the global drug company to produce their own private redevelopment plan under the guise of affordability and superficial community involvement is outrageous. Pfizer appears to be capitalizing on the continued increases in market rates rents as Williamsburg’s real estate continues to grow in popularity," Lopez says in a statement. "Pfizer has failed to define the terms of their affordability, and has only solicited proposals from private developers looking to maximize profit margins. The company’s definition of affordability in no way matches the annual income of working class New Yorkers, nor the low and moderate incomes of Williamsburg residents."
Lopez may not prevail, but if he does, Pfizer may face a legal battle in which its attorneys will be forced to argue against eminent domain, the very same concept that the drugmaker pushed behind the scenes in New London a decade ago for its own gain.
“Ah, irony,” Scott Bullock tells The Day. He was the senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which defended Fort Trumbull resident Susette Kelo as the lead plaintiff in the New London eminent domain case. “It shows that once the power goes to government to take properties on behalf of private parties, the tables can easily be turned on you...if you're out of favor with the powers that be."
Hat tip to the WSJ Health blog