Wanna buy a Post Office?
Although there's no "For Sale" sign in front of Racine's Main Street Post Office, it appears one will be in the near future, one of the "innovative solutions" the US Postal Service is adopting to cope with a "precipitous" drop in mail volume blamed on the economic downturn and the internet.
Describing the U.S. Postal Service's "most critical period in its history" (...a history that began in 1775 when the Second Continental Congress appointed our first Postmaster General) ... with "unsustainable deficits due to a drastic decline in mail volume and resulting loss of revenue," USPS Milwaukee spokesman Marge Oehlke said, "the Postal Service must seek ways to cut costs and reduce the size of its infrastructure.
One of those ways "involves putting Post Office buildings up for sale, leasing less space in the building from the buyer or in a building nearby, for retail lobby operations, and relocating carriers to a neighboring Post Office with excess workroom floor capacity."
Oehlke calls such a sale "an innovative solution ... to address the need to collapse our infrastructure while continuing to provide customers with excellent mail service and convenience access to retail products and services."
"The Racine Main Post Office located at 603 Main St. is a candidate for this innovative solution. We are looking into the opportunity to sell this building with the stipulation that we can continue to provide retail counter services in the same building or at a new location nearby. If a decision were made to sell the property, we would lease from either the building purchaser or a lessor / owner of another location in the immediate area."
The relocation of carriers took place in February when 23 city and rural mail carriers who worked out of the Main Street facility were transferred to the Four Mile Road postal facility in Caledonia. The Main Street Post Office currently houses only a service counter and postal boxes in its lobby. In addition, the Postal Service is debating whether to eliminate Saturday delivery everywhere.
So how much does the Postal Service want for the building? (I can hear you, flush with your tax refund, asking.) The price hasn't been set yet. The Postal Service is obtaining an independent appraisal to provide the fair market value of the property with the help of the commercial real estate brokerage firm of Julien J. Studley Inc. Then it will hold a "Racine Town Meeting to provide details concerning the process."
Oehlke notes that the Postal Service "receives no tax dollars for its operating expenses...(and must) rely on the sale of postage and products to generate revenue."
If the sale goes through, she says, "nothing will change from our customer’s perspective. If we can find a buyer who accepts the conditions for the sale, Racine postal customers will continue to purchase stamps, mail and ship packages or rent Post Office boxes in the same building or at another location close to the current Post Office. We will continue to provide excellent mail delivery to residents and businesses."
Postal boxes in the lobby
Historic photos from Gerald Karwowski's Oak Clearing Farm and Museum collection show the Post Office, City Hall and the County Courthouse during their dedication week in 1931 -- what a great year that was for major construction in Racine! -- and, below that, the Post Office during its first two decades of service.
Here's the Post Office in the late 1930s...
And in the 1940s; are those streetcar lines overhead?