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LA PORTE, TX-To consolidate four operations after a recent merger, Airgas Southwest Inc. is preparing to build a fast-fill plant on 13.5 acres. The $10-million plant calls for a 20,000 sf-structure and some smaller buildings, with sizes yet to be determined.

Troy Collins, vice president for Yancey-Hausman Commercial Real Estate Services in Houston, says the Radnor, PA-based Airgas Southwest will launch construction within 30 to 60 days on the fast-fill plant. The project, planned for Miller and Strang roads, will be completed by year’s end or early 2008.

“We’d been looking for land for about two months, but we were under huge time constraints because of the fiscal budget cut-off date. Then there were some zoning issues,” says Collins, who handles real estate transactions for Airgas Southwest.

Help came from local developer David Toone, a partner with PinPoint Commercial LP, who had land left over from a project. “It happened to fall into the county Airgas wanted and we were fortunate they were willing to sell,” Collins says, telling GlobeSt.com that the entire transaction took two weeks to close rather than the typical 60 to 90 days.

Collins says the company’s need for a new plant and space stemmed from a recent $200-million acquisition of Houston-headquartered Aeriform Corp. The consolidation and relocation will impact facilities ranging from 8,000 sf to 20,000 sf in Freeport, Texas City and Houston. At this time, Airgas Southwest hasn’t decided what to do with the facilities.

Yancey-Hausman’s in-house architects and engineers are working on designs. Collins says once the designs are completed, they will be submitted to developers and general contractors for bid. Fast-fill plants separate various gases including argon, oxygen and helium.

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