(Oct. 11) Sysco Food Services of Houston Inc. is getting more than just a new building with its planned new warehouse and office complex.

The company, a subsidiary of Houston-based Sysco Corp., plans to sell its former facility to the Houston Food Bank.

Brian Greene, president and chief executive officer of the food bank, said Sysco’s timing for a new facility could not have been better. The food bank had roughed out the metrics of what it needed to build when the president of Sysco Houston, Keith Miller, became a board member.

“I was explaining what we were going to build and he said we’re going to be selling a building in a couple of years that meets all of that and is going to be cheaper,” Greene said. “He was right. This is significantly cheaper than what we were looking at and is in a much better location.”

Miller resigned from the food bank board to clear up any conflicts and the food bank took a look at Sysco’s existing facility, which has about 270,000 square feet of warehouse and refrigerated space and a separate freezer building with about 100,000 square feet.

For the food bank, which splits its facilities between three buildings, including a former Kroger grocery store, the space is perfect — especially for fresh produce distributions, Greene said.

“This facility has a very large, multi-zoned refrigeration system,” he said. “Right now we have two zones. It will allow us more precision in handling produce.”

That’s important, Greene said, because more than a third of Houston’s total distribution is fresh produce, totaling more than 12 million pounds last year.

Greene said the food bank hopes to move in to the new facility in mid-2009, once Sysco Houston has completed its new building.

Toni Spigelmyer, Sysco’s director of media relations, said Sysco’s future 585,000-square-foot building will have four times more storage for fresh produce than the previous facility, and better temperature controls for inbound products on the docks.