Dover Post Office move to S. Queen Street is official

The U.S. Postal Service announced the Dover office will officially be moving to a new site at 350 S. Queen St. after closing on a deal for the property earlier this week. The property is the former location of Chesapeake Utilities, adjacent to the Dover Police Department. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

DOVER — The journey to find a new home for the Dover Post Office, which began three years ago, officially came to an end earlier this week when the U.S. Postal Service completed the purchase of its new Dover location on 350 S. Queen St., the former site of Chesapeake Utilities.

The move will end the post office’s stay at its current home at 55 Loockerman Plaza that’s lasted for more than five decades. The moving date has yet to be announced.

Though the process of finding a new location has been a long one, R&R Commercial Realty — the brokerage that closed the deal on Monday — said it’s been a worthwhile one.

“It’s a good outcome for the post office,” R&R broker/owner Charles Rodriguez said. “We looked at a lot of different sites with (USPS officials) and ultimately the old Chesapeake Utilities building met all their needs. It’s ideal because they’re still able to stay in the downtown corridor and they don’t have to split their operation up into separate sorting and retail locations.”

The Dover Post Office has historically had a presence in the downtown corridor and will remain near the heart of the city, which is great news to Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.

“Traditionally, my preference as an individual and in a historical sense is to continue to have a post office presence in the downtown area,” the mayor said. “That way it can continue to be an economic driver by bringing people into the area with the plan to make it convenient for them to do business there and meet their needs.”

The only other option that was announced in September 2018 was a proposal for the new USPS location in Dover be a split setup, involving carrier operations at the former Value City department store at Bay Court Plaza and a retail site at Capital Station, a shopping and restaurant complex at the site of the former Playtex plant at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Division Street.

The current site of the Dover Post Office, where postal operations have occurred over the past 50-plus years, are contained within a building that was constructed in 1964.

Richard Hancock, a real estate specialist with the USPS, explained the primary reason why the post office was seeking to relocate at a Dover City Council meeting on June 11, 2018.

“The city owns the property,” Mr. Hancock said. “We own the building. The lease expires (in March 2020). The city wants to do something else with the property.

“We’re working with the city right now on different options together. This is a team. We’re looking for the best interests.

“We always stay as close to where we’ve been (location-wise) as operationally and economically feasible. The downtown location that we’re currently in we’ve been there for over 50 years. We want to find something that’s relatively close, but we always look at how do we get our people in and out? Where’s the parking? Where’s the location? It’s a real-estate scenario.”

It turned out the South Queen Street location met their needs and proved to be the more popular option.

One thing Mr. Hancock made clear at that city council meeting two years ago was that the USPS would have no role in the future of the old post office location once it is vacated.

“We do own the building and just like any building that’s on a ground lease when the ground lease is over, the building stays,” he said. “We’re not going to pick it up. We could technically pick it up, but we’re not going to pick up the building and move it.

“Whatever we need from it, we own. The building itself does not have value because we don’t control the land.”

The new location also represents an investment in USPS’s future in Dover, said Mr. Rodriguez.

“The current post office on Loockerman is on a ground lease from the city and it was up for renewal this year,” he said. “With this purchase, USPS will now own both the property and the building, giving it the ideal facility to conduct business for years to come. R&R was happy to be a part of that process.”