Residents of the 33137 ZIP code, which includes Miami’s Design District, Buena Vista, Morningside, Bay Point and surrounding neighborhoods, are dreading the closure of their post office. The place where they buy 50-cent stamps is slated to be replaced by a luxe retail store where they may be able to buy $50,000 purses or $5,000 suits — whether they need them or not.
“We’re anticipating a big hassle for residents and businesses,” said David Bloom, a Morningside resident who has had a P.O. box at the post office for 17 years. “We already have lousy service. My mail delivery fluctuates wildly, and people with home delivery often go days without receiving their mail.”
The Design District post office at 66 NE 39th St., known as Buena Vista Station, is expected to temporarily relocate and share quarters with the downtown post office at 500 NW 2nd Ave., near the Miami Police Department headquarters, which is three miles south. The two nearest post offices are in Allapattah, at 1799 NW 28th St., which is 2.1 miles away, and Little River, at 1400 NE 84 St., which is 2.7 miles away.
People may have taken the old P.O. for granted. They won’t anymore. Bloom expects more inconvenience and more disruption in home service, since mail carriers “will have to add another 45 minutes of travel time to their routes.”
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The U.S. Postal Service is looking for a new building to lease in the area but hasn’t found anything to fit its desired 3,800 square feet of space needs, with at least 27 parking spaces. About 1,700 P.O. boxes are in the current building.
The two-story building, built as a plumbing warehouse in 1947, will be demolished and replaced by a mixed-use project that could be up to 20 stories tall.
The South Florida letter carriers union — Branch 1071 of the National Association of Letter Carriers — purchased the building in 1963 for $130,000 and leased it to the U.S. Postal Service. The neighborhood has undergone a transformation in the last two decades into Miami’s version of Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive as developer Craig Robins realized his vision of making it a hub for fine shopping, dining and art. The post office shares the same street with Tiffany and Co., Versace, Givenchy and the Armani/Casa Miami furniture store.
In December 2015, the Tropical Letter Carriers Holding Corporation — the union’s parent entity — sold the 13,000-square-foot building and its 30,660-square-foot parcel of land for $43.2 million to New York-based real estate development firm Thor Equities.
“This is an opportunity to have a property that has the physical scale, so that we could do a big mixed-use project with both retail, office, residential and hotel,” Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, said at the time of purchase. “We think it’s a fabulous market that both tourists and residents would want to be in, and we think that it’s a very exciting city and an exciting neighborhood.”
The union plans to build a new headquarters, including a banquet hall, in Miramar using profits from the post office sale.
The working post office on 39th Street is not to be confused with the historic Buena Vista post office building at 4000 NE 2nd Ave, former home of the Sra. Martinez restaurant and Billionaire Italian Couture clothing boutique. That property sold last year for $8.125 million (at a value of $3,553 per square foot), 16 times what it was worth when it was purchased in 2003 for $479,000. That 2,287-square-foot building was erected in 1921 by developer David Davis and once served as Buena Vista’s village hall before it became part of the city of Miami in 1925.
Anyone with comments or suggestions for a new post office site is encouraged to send them — by U.S. mail — to the U.S. Postal Service, attention Sandra A. Rybicki, real estate specialist, 7800 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 400, Dallas, Texas, 75247-4217.