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Drug deal — Pfizer angers locals by putting last three lots up for sale

Brooklyn Daily
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The makers of Viagra are pulling all the way out of Williamsburg.

Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer — which operated in South Williamsburg from 1849 until closing in 2007 — has listed its last three parcels on Harrison Avenue near Gerry Street and Wallabout Street.

The price? “Negotiable,” according to the sales listing.

The properties represent the last trace of the company’s 162 years in Brooklyn — a legacy that includes reducing cholesterol and enhancing erections — and the proposed sale is a blow to neighborhood residents and housing groups who hoped to develop below-market-rate housing there.

“They should have found a way before selling them off to have a conversation with the community and hear the community’s vision for the site,” said Williamsburg activist Juan Ramos. “They don’t value [former] workers who lived and worked in this community.”

But Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder disagreed.’

“We will continue to maintain open and transparent communications with the community regarding both this project and our other properties,” Loder said. “Pfizer is committed to keeping the interests of the community in mind as we decide the future of the sites.”

Pfizer has eagerly tried to sell its properties adjacent to those city sites since it closed down its pill-producing plant and laid off 1,100 workers in 2007.

Two years ago, the company dropped a plan to sell some of those properties for mixed-use development which would have brought in more than 1,000 apartments. That retreat angered Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsburg), who has pushed Pfizer for several years to allow affordable housing to be built on its sites.

In February, Pfizer sold its six-story defunct pill-producing plant to Acumen Capital Partners for $19 million and its adjacent lots for $7 million. Acumen converted the plant to a small business incubator and will not rezone its properties.

The properties have have drawn interest from several developers, including a group of six nonprofit housing organizations.

“Our primary interest is seeing affodable housing developed there,” said St. Nicks Alliance President Michael Rochford. “But the key is what it would cost.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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