New Dover Post Office breaks ground

From left, Superintendent of Delmarva Veteran Builders Vance Morrow, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, Sen. Tom Carper and USPS Operations Manager Sharon Monaghan during a groundbreaking at the new Dover Post Office site in Dover on Monday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — It shouldn’t be very long until signs of the new Dover Post Office begin rising from the ground at 350 S. Queen St.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and U.S. Post Office operations manager Sharon Monaghan joined officials from Delmarva Veteran Builders — who will be tasked with constructing the new 21,000-square-foot postal center in Dover — in a groundbreaking ceremony on a sweltering Monday afternoon.

The current site of the Dover Post Office, at 55 Loockerman Plaza, is where postal operations have occurred over the past 50-plus years within a building that was constructed in 1964.

“We’re very excited about getting a new facility,” Ms. Monaghan said. “The building that we’re in is a little bit on the older side and a little smaller. This new facility is going to be able to have retail. We’re going to have our carriers come out of here, and we also are going to have the BMAU (Bulk Mail Acceptance Unit) for our bulk mail.

“Last year, the Dover Post Office did $2 million in revenue, and with our commercial revenue, we were at $10 million. This is going to be a very good thing for Dover and the residents.”

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

Mayor Christiansen said he and other city officials preferred keeping the post office in the downtown area.

“I think that myself, (City Planner) Dave Hugg, former City Manager Scott Koenig and our current City Manager Donna Mitchell all endorsed this particular location, because we felt that it was going to be incumbent to be built here as part of our Downtown Development District area.

Sen. Tom Carper speaks during a groundbreaking for the new Dover Post Office site in Dover on Monday.

“It’s a great site. I have to tell you, it’s kind of sentimental to me to be involved in the relocation of the Dover Post Office. My father was a letter carrier in Dover. He first worked out of the Wesley Community Center, which was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project in the 1930s, and then they moved down the street in 1964 to the current post office site.”

The future site of the post office is the former location of Chesapeake Utilities, which moved to 500 Energy Lane in southeast Dover, near the Blue Hen Corporate Center.

“We’ve been on the job site for a couple of months,” said Vance Morrow, superintendent of Delmarva Veteran Builders. “We had nine buildings in this location that we had to do a (demolition) on. They actually did a great job with one of our subcontractors, and they actually were able to produce 81%, almost 82%, of recycled content from all of these mass buildings that they had to take out of here.”

Mr. Morrow said he expects construction on the new Dover Post Office will be completed a “little later than this time frame (July) next year.” He said 200 to 300 employees will be working on the job site.

“We are super-thrilled to be involved in this project,” said Chris Eccleston, president of Delmarva Veteran Builders. “This is actually our fourth project here in Dover, and we are a company based out of Salisbury (Maryland). We’ve been in business for seven years, and we maintain about a 60% veteran, Guard and Reserve workforce. We’re just super-pumped to be involved in this post office and what this is going to do for the city of Dover.”

Sen. Carper said the COVID-19 pandemic has made post offices a real necessity in cities and towns throughout the country — including Delaware.

“There are some places in this country where mail service is critically important — I’m thinking rural areas, and probably two-thirds of the country is rural, maybe even three-fourths,” said Sen. Carper. “For them, a lot of (people) don’t have access to the internet, and they need mail. We have a lot of people that found out during this COVID-19 experience that a lot of folks are getting their medicines, prescriptions, by mail.

“You can’t send it by email. You can’t send it by Skype or a text message. You’ve got to have it delivered. The Postal Service has seen a huge increase in their package volume in the last five or six months because of COVID-19. In adversity lies opportunity.”

Mayor Christiansen said the same thing can be said for the location of Dover’s new post office, which will sit adjacent to the Dover Police Department building.

“I think this is a great location. It’s going to be a great project,” he said. “Once again, Dover’s moving dirt. Dover is on the move. Not only do we have this project that’s going to be located in downtown Dover, but we also have the Family Court project that’s going to come along here soon.

“So, Dover’s on the move. We continue to grow, and this is going to be a place that serves our citizens better, as well as bringing (people) downtown to see our historic buildings and our retail area.”