With the new Kings Crossing shopping center nearly 100 percent leased, Summit Development has sold the complex -- anchored by a Whole Foods Market -- for nearly $60 million.

Felix Charney, president and CEO of Summit Development, joined with Greenfield Partners in 2003 to pay $8 million for the 11-acre property -- formerly the site of the Handy & Harman precious-metals processing factory -- at the corner of Grasmere Avenue and Kings Highway.

A major pension fund, TIAA-CREF Global Investments, last week bought the property from Summit for $57.5 million, or $690 per square foot.

The property had been designated a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency because of industrial contamination left by the metals plant. The job of cleaning up the contamination and preparing the rocky site for development took the developers more than five years.

Now, it not only is home to Whole Foods -- the first store to open last June -- but a CVS pharmacy, a Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant, a Chipotle Grill restaurant, a Petco store and Chase Bank office.

One small retail space that sits between Petco and the bank remains vacant.

The businesses leasing space at the shopping center employ a total of more than 250 people.

"Kings Crossing is a prime example of how a once-closed factory and brownfield site can be remediated and repositioned to become institutional-quality, income-producing real estate," Charney said. "We are very pleased to have played a role in that transformation. It was a struggle to get the approvals and the remediation completed, but we hung in and got it done."

He said many developers ignore former industrial sites because of the environmental cleanup.

"When we looked at the Handy & Harman property, we saw beyond the mess," Charney said.

Mark Barnhart, the town's community and economic development director, said the new shopping center, located close to the Fairfield Metro train station, has been an overwhelming success from the town's standpoint.

"What had been an abandoned property is now the cornerstone for the redevelopment of an entire area of town," Barnhart said. "After many years of going nowhere, the entire neighborhood is now quickly moving forward."

He said the Town Plan and Zoning Commission recently enacted new regulations for the nearby Commerce Drive area.

"We expect to see many new proposals come in and it's safe to say that the creation of Kings Crossing on the old plant site has significantly contributed to the rebirth of this area," Barnhart said.

The assessed value for the three-building complex for local tax purposes is $12.8 million, and its appraised value is $18.2 million.