Roof worries push post office out of building

Saturday, March 6, 2004

The U.S. Postal Service will set up a temporary post office in a commercial building at Good Hope and Christine streets in Cape Girardeau as it tries to solve structural roof problems at its longtime Frederick Street location, officials said Friday.

Postmaster Mike Keefe said the post office tentatively will open for business at its new location on March 22.

This will be the fifth location of a Cape Girardeau post office since the early 1900s, when it was housed in a brick building at 128 N. Main St.

Keefe said the temporary post office will sell stamps and receive mail from customers and house post office boxes, the same services that have been offered at the post office at 320 N. Frederick St. for more than 38 years.

"This is a temporary location until we can finalize what will be done with the existing building," Keefe said.

Keefe hopes repairs can be made to the old post office within a 90-day period. The postal service, he said, has no plans to build a new post office in Cape Girardeau and the Christine Street office space is being rented on a "limited lease." The building is owned by Clybourn Co.

Lindell Sanders, maintenance manager for the postal service's regional processing center on Kell Farm Drive, estimated the temporary post office might be open for three to six months at the most.

Keefe said the postal service wants to do a detailed inspection of the roof structure at the Frederick Street facility to determine what repairs are needed.

Roof leaks in the privately owned postal building, which opened in 1965, had plagued the structure for about six months.

The owner of the building, journalism professor C. Allin Means of Durant, Okla., said Tuesday that he recently had the roof replaced only to learn that the postal service now wants to remove the roof to inspect "some structural beams."

The temporary location, which has 5,000 square feet of space, was chosen from among seven sites. Its immediate availability and its location were factors in choosing that site, said Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd., which handled the leasing transaction.

The Frederick Street post office is within walking distance of some downtown residents. But Keefe said the temporary location is more centrally located for customers who drive.

Keefe said the temporary site at 284 Christine St. is located just a block east of busy Kingshighway and south of William Street.

Keefe said the site has 39 parking spaces, more than currently available at the Frederick Street site.

But J.J. Williamson, who operates an insurance agency just north of the Frederick Street post office, said even a temporary relocation will inconvenience neighborhood residents and Southeast Missouri State University students who often walk to the post office.

Keefe said the postal service will be mailing out a letter to all its Cape Girardeau customers, probably next week, announcing when the temporary office will open as well as its hours.

Keefe said he expects the temporary post office customer service counter to have the same hours as the current post office -- 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

There likely will be 24-hour access to the post office boxes as is currently the case at the Frederick Street location, he said.

The postal service plans to install new post office boxes and have a service area with a counter in a separate room that will be reached via the lobby. The temporary office, he said, will have the same number of post office boxes as the Frederick Street post office and customers will keep their same box numbers.

"We will have a mirror image of what we have downtown," Keefe said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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