BY DIRK PERREFORT
Hearst Connecticut Media
Praxair, the industrial gases giant, said on Tuesday it has purchased the former GE Capital building in Danbury for its global headquarters in a long-awaited announcement after the company scrapped a high-profile deal to build a new head office from the ground up.
Sources with knowledge of the deal told Hearst Connecticut Media on Tuesday morning that Praxair, a Fortune 500 company, purchased the 179,000-square-foot building in the Berkshire Corporate Park for about $20 million.
The company canceled plans earlier this year to build its own headquarters in Danbury for a cost of at least $65 million. People familiar with the project said at the time that the company abandoned the plan after it became too expensive.
“After a thorough evaluation of opportunities to lease, build or buy office space in the greater Danbury area, Praxair will be relocating its global headquarters to 10 Riverview Drive in Danbury,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “The Riverview property, purchased from GE Capital Corporation, is an excellent fit for our business and we anticipate completing the move by the end of 2016.
“We are proud of the work our employees do here in Connecticut and around the globe to sustain our position as leaders in the industrial gas industry and in our local communities,” the statement said. “We appreciate the support of our state and local governments and community leaders throughout this process.”
State officials including Gov. Dannel Malloy last year had offered Praxair an incentive package worth about $30 million to keep them in the state. Malloy and state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith announced the deal at a press conference held in October.
Sources said the company has applied with the state for similar incentives as part of the new deal that emerged this week. Officials with the DECD were not immediately available to comment on whether the state has agreed to provide any incentives as part of the new deal.
Fairfield-based General Electric had quietly been making plans to move GE Capital employees out of the Danbury space as it sells off its financial unit, which has a large presence in Stamford.
Praxair is currently leasing space inside the Matrix Corporate Center in Danbury. The company has about 400 employees working at the headquarters.
According to land records, GE purchased five acres of land in the corporate park for about $2.5 million in 1998 before constructing the current building on the site. The city last appraised the building and property in 2013 for $25 million.
Hearst Connecticut Media includes four daily newspapers: Connecticut Post, Greenwich Time, The Advocate (Stamford) and The News-Times (Danbury). See newstimes.com for more from this reporter.