December 14, 2007

Kelo-New London Update: Media Ignores Yet Another Six-Month Delay

As I said two weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog):

As an exemplar of a government-run enterprise stuck in the mud, it’s hard to come with a better example than what is happening in the area that was the subject of the infamous Kelo v. New London ruling in 2005. Nearly 2-1/2 years after the US Supreme Court ruled that the city could evict Susette Kelo and other holdouts from their homes, and 17 months after the final settlement between the city and the final two holdouts, very little has been done in the affected area.

Make that “nearly three years” (New London Day link requires registration after a short time, and a paid subscription after that):

NLDC And Developer Agree To Terms On Fort Trumbull
Corcoran Jennison gets six months to come up with financing — or else

Corcoran Jennison and the New London Development Corp. struck a deal Monday that will put the developer on a strict timetable to find financing for and begin construction on a long-delayed project on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

The new agreement, forged Monday, allows Corcoran Jennison six months — until May 29, 2008 — to secure financing for the construction of 66 luxury apartments and 14 townhouses on a 4-acre tract formerly occupied by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

If financing is arranged, it would allow a late June 2008 groundbreaking and completion of the housing project by Dec. 26, 2009 — the same date required had the company met the original financing deadline last month, NLDC President Michael Joplin said.

If it fails to come up with the money for the housing portion of the project, the developer would forfeit all rights to that housing as well as two office buildings and a hotel it planned to build without litigation and would allow the NLDC to seek another developer.

Once again, Elaine Stoll’s article fails to include the word “Kelo.” Is she trying to avoid the search engines, displaying civic pride by avoiding the mention of a shameful episode in the city’s history, or what? It seems that you would have to try pretty hard not to mention the project’s origins and checkered history.

As was the case two weeks ago, this latest deferral is being totally ignored by the non-local press. There is blog coverage at Say Anything and by Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy (aptly entitled, “If You Ever Build It, Maybe Some Economic Development Will Come”).

As least one commenter at Stoll’s article remembers (currently the second comment, posted 12/11/2007, 8:43:31 PM):

If you want my opinion, and a lot of people have indicated that they don’t, I think we should have left the neighborhood the way it was. At least we had some tax money coming in. And we wouldn’t have had to be embarrassed in front of the whole country including New Jersey! So this is what I figure-CJ will default because that will be cheaper than building what they’re supposed to build but will probably fail if they do.

I wish no ill on the City, the NLDC, or the developer. But I’m not going to bet that the financing will be arranged on time, or that the project, which involves putting housing and apartments on land condemned with the “permission” of the US. Supreme Court — land that used to have, uh, houses on it — will be completed this time next year. If that is the case, the New London debacle will serve as a “landmark” example (as if it isn’t already) of how misguided the Supreme Court’s “landmark” decision was.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE, Dec. 15: Chuck Potter writes in a letter to the editor –

The sad irony is that the homes of people of modest means were given to a corporation that now contends its means are too modest to do what it promised.

He also can’t bring himself to use the word “Kelo.” It must be the equivalent of a “four-letter word” in New London.

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