Permanent site for post office still uncertain

Friday, July 2, 2004

When Sears vacates its Town Plaza Shopping Center building in late 2005, it will leave behind a building that could be the answer to Cape Girardeau's post office problem, the city's mayor suggests.

Mayor Jay Knudtson said the old Sears building would be ideal as a post office.

"It is centrally located and has plenty of parking," he said Thursday.

Knudtson said he and Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president John Mehner discussed that possibility after learning that Sears was planning to build a new store on the city's west side and move out of the Town Plaza store.

At 58,000 square feet, the Town Plaza building is more than three times the size of the old post office.

Mehner said he wouldn't comment on the issue because nothing has been finalized.

The U.S. Postal Service hasn't decided whether to repair the old post office at 320 N. Frederick St. or to relocate elsewhere in the city.

Meanwhile, the agency is paying two leases -- one for the now vacant Frederick Street site and the other for its temporary office at 284 Christine St.

Any permanent relocation would be a "two-year process," postmaster Mike Keefe said. The postal service also would have to publicly disclose its intent to relocate well in advance of deciding on a location, he said.

The postal service moved to leased commercial office space on Christine Street March 22, but postal officials said the move was only temporary as it looked to solve structural roof problems at the Frederick Street building.

Keefe said he doesn't know how long how it will take for the postal service to make a decision. He said the issue is in the hands of postal officials in Denver, Colo.

The postal service plans to have a private firm inspect the Frederick Street building, which served as the city's post office for over 38 years.

Keefe said he doesn't know when the inspection will occur.

The inspection firm will determine how much work needs to be done to fix the building and how much it could cost. The postal service will use that information to decide whether to repair the old post office or relocate, he said.

In March, the postmaster said he hoped repairs could be made to the old post office within a 90-day period. But that didn't happen.

Lindell Sanders, maintenance manager for the postal services regional processing center on Kell Farm Drive in Cape Girardeau, estimated in March that the temporary office might be open for up to six months.

"Nobody moves fast in the government," Keefe said Thursday.

The Christine Street location is being rented on a temporary basis, but the current lease with Clybourn Co. can be extended if necessary, he said.

The Frederick Street building was plagued with a leaky roof for about six months.

Building owner C. Allin Means, a journalism professor in Durant, Okla., said in March that he paid "thousands of dollars" to put a new roof on the building. The work was finished in February.

But Means said that didn't satisfy the postal service, which felt that structural beams in the roof needed closer inspection.

Means said Thursday that he still is waiting for the inspection.

Means insists the building is structurally sound and that the roofing company did a good job on the new roof. He said a local lab test found no asbestos in the roof structure.

"I don't have any intention of paying anything else," he said.

The now-vacant structure was built by a private developer and opened for regular business on June 26, 1965. The postal service leased the building under a 50-year agreement that expires in 2015.

Means, who bought the 18,000-square-foot building in 1992, said he would let the postal service break its lease if it wants to relocate.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: