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New depot to replace State, Main offices

by laura merisalo

The U.S. Postal Service will deliver a message that may help breathe new life into the blighted State Street corridor.

A State Street site has been picked as the ideal location for a new post office that will combine the Main Street and State Street postal stations, James Kinne, a senior real estate specialist in the postal service's regional office in Chicago, said Wednesday.

A letter telling city, state and federal agencies of its decision should be in the mail within 10 days, Kinne said.

But the matter isn't quite that simple, he added, because the postal service is agreeing to buy land from the city and the city does not yet own the land.

He said the message will be a "letter of understanding that we have selected their property. … If and when they produce a site, we will proceed to purchase (the) site."

Thomas Wright, director of city development, said he expects the city could be ready within a year to sell the land to the postal service, once the city council gives its nod of approval.

That time line fits with the postal service's goal to move into a new building by late 1993 or early 1994, said Delano Maisch, Milwaukee division manager of support services.

An $18.2 million plan to revitalize the State Street corridor included two scenarios - with or without a new post office. City and local

postal officials said they were pleased the postal service embraced the option detailed in the State Street plan.

"It's exciting," said Ronald Britten, manager of customer services at the Main Street station. "That's what we were looking for."

A triangular plot earmarked for the post office is bounded by Marquette Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Sections of Geneva and West streets run through the parcel and will be vacated to provide the postal service with a nearly 7-acre site needed for the new postal station, Wright said.

Adding the post office option to the State Street plan will ring up an additional $1.3 million in expenses for the city portion of the State Street project. It also will cut projected increases in tax revenues from that area by $4 million over the next 20 years.

Still, Wright said, a new multimillion-dollar post office will be a "valuable contribution" to the State Street area as its face lift gets underway.

The postal service revised its project - expected to cost between $7 million and $10 million - so that it could take advantage of the city's offer, according to Maisch.

A 13,000-square-foot garage will be built on the West Racine post office property at 1300 Perry Ave., rather than at the proposed State Street office because there was not enough land there, Maisch said.

A 70,000-square-foot building is planned on the State Street site, he said.

Maisch said the Main Street station may be sold, with federal agencies having the first option to buy the building, followed by the state, and then it could go on the open market. If there is no buyer, he said, the postal service could retain and lease the building at 603 Main St. He said the postal service leases that State Street station so would not have to handle selling that property.

It's exciting. That's what we were looking for. Ronald Britten

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