Still waiting in New London

In New London, Conn., home of Susette Kelo, they are still waiting for the Fort Trumbull development to get off the ground.

The Day (link subscriber only, unfortunately) has finally had it with the preferred developer of the New London Development Corporation, and it seems the patience of the NLDC is coming to an end as well. In the two years since the Kelo decision of June 2005, construction has yet to begin on the development that is supposed to revitalize the Connecticut city.

One of the oft-overlooked dangers of using eminent domain for private development is underestimating the myriad of variables that go into making sure the plan, as proposed on paper, actually makes it into the realm of reality. Situations like that in New London, which could still avoid becoming a “Redevelopment Wreck“, should remind us all of the cost of buying into the promises of politicians and developers who say they need the use of eminent domain to prevent potential roadblocks to the development. Rarely is it mentioned that developers and local politicians are potential roadblocks as well.

The inability to predict the future should, in theory, make politicians a bit more hesitant to use such a heavy-handed tactic like eminent domain, but, as we all know, it doesn’t. In the case of New London, the chances for a successful economic revitalization shrink as the days move forward and construction site lies vacant. So far, the public hasn’t received any return on the investment local officials made in the name of New London’s economic well-being.

Ilya Somin over at Volokh.com has some additional commentary on this, too.