The Business Council of New York State strongly opposes this bill, which would direct the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to seize property in Brooklyn owned by Pfizer Inc. for development of affordable housing.
While a public policy goal of affordable housing in Brooklyn is laudable, accomplishing this goal through eminent domain to seize the parcels in question is both premature and would set a dangerous precedent for the use of eminent domain across New York State.
Pfizer's closure of its Brooklyn manufacturing facility in 2007 started a comprehensive process to evaluate the best means for private redevelopment of the property. The company has elicited broad feedback to guide their redevelopment objectives and has been working with the community to ensure that any future development of Pfizer-owned properties is consistent with the community's needs. Affordable housing and job opportunities are among the needs included in the guiding principles of the RFP process Pfizer will utilize to identify the best approach for mixed-use, private development options for this property.
Pfizer's efforts to engage in a thorough, principles-based process toward redevelopment that has included the community should be applauded, not dismissed. Seizure of privately-owned land through eminent domain should be used judiciously and only as an action of last resort. It sets a dangerous precedent when the eminent domain tool is used by government recklessly, to advance an affordable housing policy objective which has not been formalized through a comprehensive plan, with funding in place, to attain the actual goal.
With state and local government resources limited, and with Pfizer acting as a responsible corporate citizen in advancing appropriate community redevelopment objectives for private redevelopment of the property, legislation to seize the property through eminent domain cannot be justified as a DHCR expense or initiative. For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this bill.