Sealed and delivered: Plans to move Dover Post Office get the go-ahead

DOVER — The U.S. Postal Service announced on Thursday that it is moving forward with plans to relocate the Dover Post Office from its longtime location at 55 Loockerman Plaza, but would not say where the new facility would be located.

“We are still looking at different alternatives,” said Ray Daiutolo Sr., who works at USPS corporate communications. “Once a decision is made we will share that information.”

Upon receiving Thursday’s news, Dover City Planner Dave Hugg said, “Just one step in their process.”

The USPS allowed 30 days of written feedback from Dover residents regarding possible locations for the new site of the post office.

“After consideration of discussion and feedback, the Postal Service has announced it is moving forward on the proposal because it cannot renew its lease at the current location,” the USPS said in a statement. “The relocation will allow the Postal Service to maintain retail and delivery operations for customers in the Dover area for the long term.

“As noted, postal retail services will remain in the community at the current location until the replacement facility is open and operating as a Post Office. There will be no change to Post Office Box numbers or ZIP Codes.”

Richard Hancock, a real estate specialist with the U.S. Postal Service, explained the primary reason why the post office is seeking to relocate at a Dover City Council meeting on June 11.

“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.”

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 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.”

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.

There were a couple of vans in front of the former Value City store on Wednesday with workers bringing materials out of the front door to the vans. It is unknown if the work was related to a possible future deal with the Postal Service.

“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.

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

One thing Mr. Hancock made clear at the city council meeting in June, 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.”

That’s the primary reason why 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.”

 

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

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