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ALVARADO, TX-In a landmark deal for a 4,000-resident town, Sabre Tubular Structures has started work on the 200,000-sf first phase of a 147-acre manufacturing complex to meet increased demand for its product line–steel poles for cell phone towers and power plants. The Sioux City, IA-based manufacturer will uproot its long-time Fort Worth operation in November.

The land is 20 miles south of Sabre’s existing manufacturing plant so it’s been relatively easy to keep the deal under wraps until construction got under way. With the incentive package from the state, Johnson County and city poised to be inked within 10 days, dealmakers have decided it’s time to spread the news.

The $17-million first phase will pull 60 acres from the land bank for a 24,000-sf office building, 157,000-sf steel-fabrication plant and a 19,000-sf sandblasting and painting booth for 60-foot tubular poles. A $25-million second phase is on the drawing board, Craig Hughes, a director for Dallas-based Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc., tells GlobeSt.com. “There’s a high likelihood we’ll do a second phase on 30 acres and there’ll be additional land above that for future expansion,” he says. Texas is prepping for its first power plant construction since the 1970s so it’s more likely than not that the second phase will be built.

Hughes and Sabre’s team began searching for a 125- to 150-acre development site in the Fort Worth area in June 2006. “We first looked in Fort Worth for existing space. There was none. We have significant outside storage that virtually ruled out all the sites in Fort Worth,” he says. “We kept going in concentric circles. The combination of attractive land prices and the pro-business attitude that Alvarado had led us down that path.”

The scouting team also eyed sites in Crowley, Burleson and Cleburne, but Alvarado “welcomed us with open arms,” Hughes says. “It’s a sleepy little town that’s about to wake up.”

Alvarado is two miles east of Interstate 35W, which is a straight shot to Fort Worth, and along Texas 67, which leads directly to Dallas. “You’re right there at the apex,” Hughes says.

Sabre Communications Corp. bought the farmland from two local residents for its design-build project, which is being raised by Bennett Building Systems of Burleson. “This facility will be state-of-the-art and will offer the most efficient and streamlined manufacturing in the pole industry,” James Mack, president and CEO of Sabre Communications, says in a press release about the construction start. The firm’s world headquarters and two manufacturing plants at 2101 Murray St. and 2301 Bridgeport Dr. in Sioux City, respectively, total 100,000 sf on 26 acres. In Fort Worth, Sabre occupies a 150,000-sf manufacturing plant on 46 acres at 2300 W. Risinger Rd.

Sabre employs about 120 people in Fort Worth, but will ramp up to more than 300 by the November completion, becoming Alvarado’s largest employer. “We are excited about the economic impact that Saber will have for this area,” Mayor Tom Durington says in the release.

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