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OKLAHOMA CITY-Rexam of London, a manufacturer of beverage packaging, will close its Oklahoma City aluminum can plant in early 2009. The shut down will leave 80 unemployed workers and a 180,000-square-foot manufacturing plant vacant on the west side.

Harry Barto, president and CEO with Rexam Beverage Can North America, said in a Dec. 10 statement that the 30-year-old plant on 3400 S. Council Rd. needed to be shuttered because the 12-oz.can market is slowing down. “With these moves, we are doing our part in balancing capacity with demand, further improving our existing operations,” Barto said in the release.

What wasn’t said, however, was what would become of the plant. A spokesman with Rexam’s North American headquarters in Chicago says a decision hasn’t been made about the real estate. “We won’t be closed until some time in the first quarter of 2009,” he adds. “At that time, we’ll do an environmental assessment of the plant and analyze options.”

The area’s industrial brokers aren’t too alarmed at the idea of a vacant canning plant on the city’s outskirts, however. “I don’t think this will be a huge backbreaker on the market,” comments Brent Price, an associate with Sperry Van Ness’ Oklahoma City office. “On the industrial side, overall, we’re well-positioned and will do fine going forward. We’re still in single digits when it comes to vacancies. This won’t hit us too hard.”

CB Richard Ellis’ vice president John Lenochan is familiar with the plant and has created a valuation statement for it. He was even more positive about the asset’s future, citing a vibrant submarket and good demand.

“The fact is, that plant has a rail-served facility, and there’s been some needs in the market for something like that for some time,” says Lenochan, who is with the company’s Oklahoma City office.

Lenochan tells GlobeSt.com that the facility is a quality one as well. “I could see some sort of light manufacturing company that needs rail service taking it on,” he adds. “An owner-user or potential tenant with those needs would have interest in this facility.”

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