Following the announcement earlier this week that Pfizer is closing their Brooklyn plant, the Times has a virtual paean to the company and how they've played a role in the community for the past century-and-a-half. Founded in 1849, the company's first best-selling drug was an intestinal-worm remedy called antonin, Pfizer's headquarters remained on Flushing Avenue until 1961, when it moved to Manhattan.
In the 1970s, as the neighborhood surrounding the plant deteriorated, Pfizer kept its manufacturing plant open and unsuccessfully tried to attract other manufacturers. Having failed that, Pfizer tried rebuilding the neighborhood, entering into a public-private partnership with the city. Through various measures the company gave unused land to the city and developers to build starter homes for low- and middle-income residents.
Beginning in the late-1980s Pfizer, leased a vacant building to the city for a dollar a year to support the Beginning with Children Charter school. The company paid to renovate the building, designed and constructed a playground, built science labs, and mentored children in the school. The 450 children at the school consistently score higher on standardized tests than the city average. The company did receive $46 million in tax breaks, spread out over 15 years, from the city four years ago. It's not clear whether the city will cancel the tax break now that the plant is closing.
Even though the plant is closing, Pfizer still remains committed to the neighborhood. It will renovate the original 1849 headquarters into a community education center, and is working with the city and community to come up with a retail and housing use plan for its ten acres of land.