New Dover Post Office location remains undelivered for now

USPS real estate specialist Richard Hancock answering questions from Dover council members at Monday night’s meeting. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — No solid answers regarding the future relocation of the Dover Post Office were offered at Monday night’s city council meeting, but there were some tidbits that were gained.

Richard Hancock, a real estate specialist with the U.S. Postal Service, gave a brief presentation regarding the project at City Hall, mainly seeking input from council members as well as citizens of Dover.

Mr. Hancock did explain the primary reason why the post office is seeking to relocate.

“The city owns the property,” he 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.”

Mr. Hancock said the USPS is considering numerous options for the future of post office operations in Dover, including possibly having a retail center in the downtown area where individuals can go buy stamps and mail letters, as well as having a main postal courier center at another location.

That option opens several different scenarios.

“We always stay as close to where we’ve been (location-wise) as operationally and economically feasible,” said Mr. Hancock. “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.”

He added, “In terms of having a retail component and then having a carrier operation in a separate location, we are considering that.”

City Councilman Fred Neil said the USPS and city of Dover could both benefit from the post office relocation.

“I would prefer a downtown location to draw people to the revitalized area we are creating, which the post office would be a significant part,” Mr. Neil said. “I believe the city administration is working with post office officials as we seek a location for a parking garage and a new City Hall or municipal complex.

“Both the Reed Street building and City Hall are no longer efficient and are costly to repair. Funds have been provided in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for engineering and architectural planning. Nothing will occur before public hearings are held as their input is important.”

Commercial realtor Charles Rodriguez (right) talks with Dover city planner Dave Hugg (left) and Richard Hancock, USPS real estate specialist before Monday night’s city council meeting. . (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Mr. Hancock mentioned that officials from the post office and the city have been looking at several different scenarios, including the vacant Value City department store building at 6505 Bay Road in south Dover.

He said that Monday’s visit was not to pinpoint locations, but to seek input as to what the best-scenario for the city would be.

“We are looking at the next stage,” said Mr. Hancock. “The next stage is ‘Where are we going to go?’ That’s a very complicated question.

“We are not here to present alternatives to the public or the council at this time, we are here simply to explain that this is what our process is to solicit feedback if anybody has any suggestions for a new location or a potential new location.”

The USPS said written comments on the proposal will be accepted for 30 days after Monday’s meeting and should be submitted to:

Richard Hancock, Real Estate Specialist, United States Postal Service, Facilities Service Office, PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103 or email to richard.a.hancock2@usps.gov.

“I don’t know what our timeline is,” Mr. Hancock said. “The city is working with us and looking. We have a lot of different options, there’s a lot of different things out there and it’s going to take time, but once we make a decision of what direction we’re going, then there’s securing that particular deal.”

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen thanked Mr. Hancock for appearing at the city council meeting and noted that the relocation process is in its infant stages.

“Mr. Hancock, I want to thank you for making your appearance here and setting the wheels in motion on an arduous journey that we’re all about to undertake,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“I can say to members of the council and the public that it’s been a pleasure to work with you in these initial steps, myself, Mr. (Dave) Hugg (city planner) and Mrs. (Donna) Mitchell (city manager).”

One thing Mr. Hancock made clear, the USPS would have no role in the future of the old post office location once it is vacated.

Richard Hancock (left), US Postal Service real estate specialist, explaining to city council he is currently in the process of searching for a new location when the current location lease expires. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“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.”

Allan Angel, a Kent County Levy Court Commissioner, attended the meeting and suggested that moving the post office from downtown would hurt businesses on the Loockerman Street corridor.

“People come downtown to mail letters, use their postal mailbox and mail packages and sometimes they might make a day of it and go have coffee at the coffee shop, visit some stores or restaurants,” Mr. Angel said. “I think it would hurt them if the post office moved from downtown.”

He did suggest that if the USPS wanted a separate retail and operational center for Dover, it might consider checking into the land north of Delaware State University that was once being looked at for the construction of a civic center for its courier hub.

Mr. Hancock said the USPS is considering all options.

“If there’s a ‘For sale’ sign in front of it, trust me, we’ve looked at it,” he said.

Reach staff writer Mike Finney at 302-741-8230 or mfinney@newszap.com.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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