Post office building likely to open in fall

Friday, August 5, 2005

Roof repair begins in post office renovation; lobby plans not yet finished.

Workers began repairing the roof on the old post office at 329 N. Frederick St. in Cape Girardeau two weeks ago, the first phase of the renovation project that will return postal operations to the 40-year-old building after a 1 1/2-year absence.

Weathercraft Roofing of Grand Island, Neb., is putting a new rubber-mat roof on the building. The contractor is also adding insulation and creating a slight slope to the roof to improve drainage.

The old flat roof leaked, and repairs made by the building's previous owner weren't up to federal or city building standards, postmaster Mike Keefe said.

The Postal Service plans to remodel the Frederick Street building's front lobby too. But a contract has yet to be awarded. Keefe said it could be late this year before the retail operation reopens.

The U.S. Postal Service moved out of the building it then leased, primarily because of the leaky roof. In April, the service announced it had bought the 18,000-square-foot building for $500,000 and would make another $300,000 in renovations. At that time, postal officials expected operations to resume at Frederick Street by September.

Along with that announcement, officials said they would look at entering into a contract with a west-side business to provide another outlet for retail postal services. A contract could be worked out later this month, Keefe said.

Bratton Brothers Construction of Olathe, Kan., will renovate the interior of the building, including the installation of new lighting. Keefe said the $300,000 will pay to replace the roof and renovate the interior of the building which will house mail carrier operations.

But it won't cover the cost of renovating the retail space at the front of the building, Keefe said.

It's uncertain how much that will cost or what renovations will be done, he said.

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson said she was disappointed that the service didn't meet a June deadline for establishing a retail facility on the city's west side.

"It has been 40 years since the present post office was constructed on North Frederick Street, far from areas where the city is growing," she said.

The Cape Girardeau post office processes more mail than many comparable cities that have multiple post offices such as Paducah, Ky., Emerson said.

Emerson said she plans to contact regional postal officials in Kansas City and in Denver in an effort to get a second retail post office in Cape Girardeau.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service continues to operate from leased retail space at 284 Christine St. on the city's west side. That location will close once the retail operation reopens in the Frederick Street building.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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