Groton throws up a new hurdle to Pfizer's R&D demolition plan

It looks as if Pfizer ($PFE) is going to have to submit to some counseling from a group of anxious economic development officials in Connecticut before the pharma giant will be allowed to reduce a sprawling R&D facility to rubble. Faced with Pfizer's evidently unwavering commitment to bring in the wrecking ball to destroy the 750,000-square-foot Building 118 in Groton, town officials have whipped up a new ordinance that calls for a 90-day cooling-off period for company officials.

The city council has voted to require a 90-day delay for anyone seeking a demolition permit, according to The Day, which has been covering the controversy closely. This new ordinance requires "all interested parties to consider alternatives to demolition and to examine the impact of demolition on the environment." And it sets up a process by which Pfizer would be "informed of the benefits of preservation, rehabilitation and reuse."

Preservation, rehab and reuse are exactly what everyone from the council to the governor is desperate to see. Spurred into action by Pfizer's decision to dramatically reduce its presence at Groton, economic development groups have been busy wooing in new drug developers and found one company that was quite interested in buying Building 118 and creating a new R&D hub out of it. But even after the governor reportedly called Pfizer CEO Ian Read personally, the company refused to drop its surprising plan to bulldoze the facility.

This new action by the city council took place after Pfizer also spelled out plans to leave debris in the basement of the site, raising some concerns about the long-term considerations presented by possible contamination that would prohibit any future development.

Now Pfizer can take an extra 90 days to defend its position--or come to terms with a host of local officials still determined to change its mind.

- here's the story from The Day

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