If is unable to sell its sprawling complex known as Building 118 by year’s end – the asking price is a secret – and the company tears it all down, Groton would take a $2.1 million hit on its tax revenues.
On Wednesday, to tear down the complex on Eastern Point Road by submitting an application to the city Building Department for a demolition permit. The building office said around 3 Wednesday afternoon it had not received an application, but Pfizer spokesman Steven L. Danehy said he had confirmation that the application had been delivered.
. Wednesday, Pfizer released a statement saying if the building could not be sold by the end of this year, "demolition is a possibility. A final decision on the future of the 118 Complex will be made by the end of 2012."
If the buildings are torn down, it means a tax hit for Groton, which has a $121 million budget for the 2013 fiscal year.
The full market value of the seven interconnected buildings known as Building 118 is $123,736,000, said Groton Tax Assessor Mary Gardner. That was the value as of Oct. 1, 2011, the date on which all property is appraised for the grand list.
For tax purposes, the town takes 70 percent of the value - $86,615,200, according to Gardner – and that is what is taxed.
The tax rate applied to Building 118, which is in the city, for the fiscal year that began July 1, is 24.815 mills, Gardner said. That means Pfizer paid $2,149,000 in taxes on Building 118 for the current fiscal year.
That tax bill is based entirely on the structures, Gardner said. If there are no structures, “the value goes away completely,” she said.
The mayor's reaction
Groton City Mayor Marian Galbraith said the city is “disappointed.”
“We’re disappointed they’re doing this now, but they have assured me that this doesn’t mean they have moved their decision date. I left the office at 2:45 and they hadn’t pulled (a permit) yet.”
Galbriath said it’s her understanding Pfizer is looking to obtain the permit in advance should they proceed with the demolition.
“Our real concern now is re-use – whether it’s land or the buildings. For us it means hard work and continue on the path to find another use.”
She said the city is exploring potential prospects, but stopped short of identifying what those might be.
“There’s nothing I could talk about now.”
Galbraith said “the state is also working on” plans for site re-use.
Demo could start in March
Danehy said in an email Wednesday that "If Pfizer receives a permit for demolition of the 118 Complex, and makes a decision to move forward with demolition, the actual removal of the structures would commence as early as March 1, 2013 in accordance with local, state and federal environmental laws and regulations."
Gardner said that detail means Groton would get one more year in tax revenues from Building 118, because the tax rolls are set on Oct. 1 each year. If Pfizer followed the schedule outlined by Danehy, Building 118 would still be intact on Oct. 1, 2012, meaning Pfizer would have to pay taxes on it come July 1, 2013.
A number of Pfizer employees are still working in the building, Danehy confirmed. "We estimate relocation of colleagues to other lab buildings will continue through the end of the year," he wrote.
Pfizer has not publicly disclosed a sales price, and Danehy said that information will remain confidential.
Updates on other Pfizer properties
The company has it is no longer in need of. Danehy provided an update on those as well (updates in bold).
- Building 126, a lab building on Eastern Point Road, is scheduled for demolition after attempts to market it failed to find a buyer. Utilities have been severed and Pfizer is clearing the inside. The building is scheduled to come down by the end of May, but workers will probably clear the site through June. Building 126 dates back to the early 1950s. Demolition is complete.
- Building 156 is being adapted for new use. The company pulled a demolition permit to renovate a portion and expects to have new occupants - who are now in Building 118 - by the end of the year. No change.
- Building 114, sometimes called “the ice cube building”, is a 26,000-square-foot, two-story office building outside the Pfizer gates. It’s off Eastern Point Road, has a small parking lot, and is considered highly marketable, the company said. It’s been on the market since February 2012.
- Building 286 is single-story building inside the security perimeter of Pfizer, with a parking lot adjacent to it. It’s about 24,000 square feet and is 60 percent is lab space. It’s been on the market since October 2011.
- Building 288 is a single-story lab, just under 16,000 square feet in the middle of the campus. It’s been on the market since October 2011.