The Failure of Development Planning

There’s nothing like a high-profile example of things going wrong in a predictable manner. From WSJ:

Now, four years after that decision gave Susette Kelo’s land to private developers for a project including a hotel and offices intended to enhance Pfizer Inc.’s nearby corporate facility, the pharmaceutical giant has announced it will close its research and development headquarters in New London, Connecticut.

The aftermath of Kelo is the latest example of the futility of using eminent domain as corporate welfare. While Ms. Kelo and her neighbors lost their homes, the city and the state spent some $78 million to bulldoze private property for high-end condos and other “desirable” elements. Instead, the wrecked and condemned neighborhood still stands vacant, without any of the touted tax benefits or job creation.

That’s especially galling because the five Supreme Court Justices cited the development plan as a major factor in rationalizing their Kelo decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy called the plan “comprehensive,” while Justice John Paul Stevens insisted that “The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue.” So much for that.

The lesson learned? Let the private market handle economic development, because it’s much better at doing so than the government. What we see in sports stadiums applies to other projects as well.

Thanks to Craig Calcaterra (via Facebook) for the pointer.

2 Responses “The Failure of Development Planning”

  1. Cyril Morong says:


    Thanks for posting this. I usually don’t get to my WSJ until Saturday. This reminds me of what happened in Poletown in Detroit in the early 80s.


  2. Chris R says:

    Tragic, to say the least. It is actually kind of good this happened. Now maybe they can reign in eminent domain.

    What a horrible slap in the face for the people who live there.