New London officials say its imperative that a private, tax-paying company be attracted to the city to take over the Pfizer headquarters now slated for closure. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.
New London’s physical area is small, and so is its tax base – around half of the city is occupied by non-profit entities like hospitals and colleges that pay no tax. Pfizer announced Monday it would be closing its New London operations and moving 1,400 employees across the river to Groton. Since the building opened in 2001, Pfizer has been the city’s biggest taxpayer, even with the substantial tax breaks it was given as an incentive to build in New London. Ironically, the ten year abatement will end in 2011, just as Pfizer shutters the headquarters – at that point the city will start to receive an extra two million dollars a year in taxes. City Councillor Rob Pero says as the search for a new occupier goes forward, he wants an assurance from Pfizer.
"...that they’ll find somebody that would be a tax paying entity, that would provide jobs to our economy, and try and fit our plan of development."
Some in the city say it could have been much worse. Penny Parsekian runs New London Main Street, a revitalization project in downtown. She has many volunteers from Pfizer on her board, and she says she’s delighted they’ll be staying in the community. And she believes the building will draw in a new company.
"Where do you find property like that on the waterfront, with the spectacular views, a daycare center, in a small creative class expanding little town like New London. I just think it’s a very exciting opportunity, so it’s a question of getting the word out, and I think Pfizer has a big motivation for getting the word out – it’s expensive for them to keep that property empty."
Pfizer has said it is in “active discussions” to sell or lease the 300 million dollars complex.