Pfizer plans to demolish Groton building 'just part of the process'

Groton - Pfizer Inc. is moving ahead with plans that could lead to the demolition of its sprawling former research headquarters even as the pharmaceutical giant continues to market the property.

Pfizer submitted plans for a Coastal Site Plan Review last month, the first step needed before it applies for a demolition permit for the nearly 1-million-square-foot Building 118 complex off Eastern Point Road. The coastal site plan is being reviewed this week by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

"This is just part of the process," Town Manager Mark Oefinger said. "I'm not more or less distressed today than I was a month ago when they made their announcement."

Pfizer said last month it would apply for a demolition permit for the former lab and office complex while "aggressively marketing" the property for lease or sale.

Pfizer spokesman Steve Danehy said Tuesday that marketing efforts continue in earnest and that the demolition process was started as a precaution. A decision is not expected until the end of the year.

Oefinger and City Mayor Marian Galbraith both said they continue to be encouraged by interested parties who have made second and third visits to the facility while new interested parties continue to come forward. Both remain in contact with Pfizer representatives.

But town officials are also acutely aware of the timeline and the potential tax implications for the town. The Building 118 complex, one of several facilities at the site, is worth $123.7 million, according to town records. With an assessed value of $86. 6 million, Groton stands to lose $2.15 million if the complex is taken off the tax rolls.

"The order of magnitude is huge," Oefinger said.

Oefinger said the town is doing everything it can to market the property and has been in contact with both the governor's office and the commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

The town and city have also met with representatives from local colleges.

City of Groton Planner Barbara Goodrich said the Coastal Site Plan Review is needed because a portion of Pfizer's complex under consideration for demolition falls within 1,000 feet of the Thames River. Goodrich said the plan needs to address issues such as erosion control measures and water contamination for the protection of the coastline.

The land-use commission may or may not suggest revisions to the plan, Goodrich said.

g.smith@theday.com

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