High Ridge Park, a 498,000-square-foot, Class A office park in Stamford, recently was sold for more than $85.5 million. The deal was the state’s largest commercial sale of the year.

Connecticut logged its largest commercial sale of 2003 at the tail end of September, when a New York investment group purchased a 35-year-old Stamford office park.

The CB Richard Ellis Tri-State investment team, led by Jeffrey R. Dunne, has arranged the sale of High Ridge Park, a 498,000-square-foot, Class A office park, for more than $85.5 million.

The purchase price equates to $171 per square foot, and represents a sub-8 percent capitalization rate on in-place income. The capitalization rate, or cap rate, is the ratio between a building’s net operating income and its present value.

“This is a very, very large deal for this area,” said Dunne. “It’s half a million feet. In Connecticut we just finished the State House Square deal in Hartford, which was the largest deal in the state, but now this replaces that as the largest deal in Connecticut, and Westchester County, this year.

“This deal was 85 million and change; it’s quite the transaction. In Westchester we have a deal in the works for $105 million, so that will be bigger, but that doesn’t diminish the significance of High Ridge Park.”

Dunne and partner Jim Tully represented the seller, High Ridge Park Assoc., a partnership comprised of New York-area families. The buyer was George V. Comfort & Sons, a privately held real estate investment company based in Manhattan.

“The owner has never been up here, never owned property in Connecticut. He was able to come up and own half a million feet in a blink where sometimes it takes several years to assemble that kind of footage all in one place,” said Dunne.

“This is also a very special deal for me as well as the buyer,” he added. “The sellers were three families, three Stamford families that were longtime developers and investors in the area. They owned and maintained this park since the 1960s when they first developed it. This is a trade that happens once every 35 years. Obviously I’d like to deal with properties that sell every year, but this is a special type of transaction.”

‘A Great History’

High Ridge Park sits on 38.84 acres immediately off Exit 35 of the Merritt Parkway in Stamford. There are six buildings in the park, which has historically been the site of choice for corporate headquarter locations within Stamford. Currently MeadWestvaco and Citizens Communications house their corporate headquarters and Cadbury Beverages maintains its North American headquarters at the park. Other notable corporations that have been based at High Ridge Park over the years include American Thread, Continental Oil, Elf-Aquatine, General Signal and Xerox.

“High Ridge Park is a triple-A location, and there is a great history of many major companies moving out of New York and making this their first stop,” said Dunne. “Xerox had its first world headquarters in this park before they moved elsewhere, and the park still has great tenants.”

The project came on the market in the winter of 2003 and the deal was closed in September. Dunne said about a dozen interested investors placed bids on the property.

High Ridge Park is about 85 percent occupied, and the new owners plan to renovate the common space.

“I am honored to have been involved in the sale of this unique asset, which has always been among the most prestigious addresses in Lower Fairfield County. This sale marks the first time that High Ridge Park has ever changed hands and George V. Comfort & Sons should enjoy the same long-term success as the previous owners given their typical long-term hold strategy,” said Dunne.