After drug giant Pfizer Inc. announced that it was opening a new research center here, city officials aggressively moved to acquire surrounding land for an economic development project — triggering an epic fight over eminent domain that reached the U.S. Supreme Court and ended with residents being forced from their homes.
But the land where the homes once stood has remained undeveloped, and the community took another hit last week when Pfizer, a major economic engine in the city and its largest taxpayer, announced plans to close the $350 million research center and relocate about 1,500 jobs to nearby Groton.
Now some angry and befuddled current and former residents, including some who lost their homes, say the drug company's announcement reaffirms their conviction that the city never needed to pick the property rights fight in the first place. If they have lost, they say, then so apparently has the city.
"We just got so sick of hearing that we were supposed to sacrifice for the greater good," said Matthew Dery, the sales and retention manager at The Day newspaper in New London who relocated to Waterford after being forced out of a home that had been in his family for about a century. "As it turns out, there was no greater good."
Pfizer's pharmaceutical research center, which opened in 2001, was a catalyst for a planned multimillion-dollar private development that was to include residential, hotel conference, research and development space and a new state park. City officials decided they needed 90 acres adjacent to the Pfizer center to complement the building.