Bronxites React to Post Office Sale
By Hector Felix
Bronx officials and residents are crying foul over the United States Postal Service (USPS) plan to put the Bronx General Post Office up for sale. The historic, two-story building with marble arches sits on the corner of 149th Street and Grand Concourse in the South Bronx. USPS officials say they are looking to downsize some of their operations that require less space, in order to cut costs. The Bronx General Post Office is 175,000 square feet of space, they say, while the operation requires only 7,300 square feet. There would continue to be postal service, they say, just in a smaller space.
Many area residents and Bronxites in general dislike the idea that such a building, which is registered under the U.S National Register of Historic Places, would be put up for sale. “If the Bronx was a city in its own right, it would be the eighth biggest city population wise (in the US), so it would be ridiculous to leave it without a general post office,” said Jay Perez, 28, from the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.
It was business as usual at the post office on day in late February. Some patrons were surprised to hear that the USPS was trying to close the post office. “What? I can’t believe this!” said Raydaza Montas, 26, from the Hub section of the Bronx. “That is going be such an inconvenience for me. Where am I supposed to send my mail? First it was Saturdays no mail, now they’re closing this. What am I supposed to do?”
Others wondered why an area with so much business would lose such an iconic building. The post office is a few blocks away from the Gateway Center and near Yankee Stadium.
“I personally don’t think it is a good idea because the 2, 4, 5 trains pass right there on the Grand Concourse,” said 17-year-old Janelle Brown. “It wouldn’t be good idea because it is in a center basically.”
Several Bronxites don’t understand why they would have to leave their neighborhoods and go to another post office.
“I think it would be bad because if someone lived across from the [post office] building they could just get it, but now they would have to travel across town,” said 31-year-old Jenny Matos.
Marco Gomez said that the Post Office box service was substantially better than others in the Bronx. “This is a place where you can have access to your P.O. box 24 hours a day, and because of the nature of my job, I could come late at night and check it,” he said.
Some Bronx officials, such as Congressman Jose Serrano, are against the sale.
“I fear that while this (sale) may appear to be a good decision now, such a move is shortsighted and will have bad long term outcomes,” said Jose Serrano in a statement.
The building is an official city landmark and so it could not be demolished, even if it were sold. However, some say the artwork inside should also be protected.
The post office also has two sculptures, one depicting a mother and daughter looking at a letter; it’s by Henry Kreiss and entitled “The Letter” (1936) and Noah (1936) by Charles Rudy.
Depression era murals grace the walls of the Post Office, flashing back to the struggles of that time.
The USP sent a letter to the Bronx president Ruben Diaz detailing the reasons why they want to sell the building.
“As a self supporting government agency, that receives no tax dollars for its operating expenses the Postal Service must rely on the sale of postage, products, and services to generate revenue. In the face of unsustainable deficits, the Postal Service must seek ways to cut costs and reduce the size of its infrastructure. We believe we have an opportunity in the Bronx to sell the existing Postal Service owned property located at 558 Grand Concourse and right size our retail operation into smaller leased space.”