A sign of life for Oak Creek USPS facility and downtown Milwaukee project

Existing post office building in downtown Milwaukee eyed for redevelopment

Rendering of planned changes to the downtown post office complex released by Chicago developer R2 Companies in 2016.

Last updated on September 5th, 2019 at 02:52 pm

An application filed recently with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows the U.S. Postal Service is actively considering building a new facility in Oak Creek.

The new facility could in turn mean the federal agency will move out of its existing downtown Milwaukee location and free up that building for redevelopment.

A consultant working with the postal service this summer filed a report documenting wetlands found on a nearly 74-acre site at the southwest corner of College and Nicholson avenues. It specifically identifies eight wetland areas totaling roughly 3.1 acres within the project boundaries.

Further, the report and subsequent documents indicate the investigations of wetlands at the site are meant to assist in site planning related to a planned Oak Creek facility.

As recently as 2015, a USPS spokesman said there were no plans to develop the site.

In a letter to USPS, dated Sept. 3, DNR officials confirmed the proposed wetland boundaries as acceptable.

The confirmation is valid for five years, and any filling or grading within the wetland areas will require further DNR approvals, according to the letter.

A spokesman with the postal service responded to a request for comment from BizTimes, noting he would look into the facility plans. However, he did not follow up with further details by Wednesday afternoon.

The report seemingly breathes new life into a planned facility that was announced more than a decade ago. It also shows the USPS could eventually move out of the existing 1.1 million-square-foot Milwaukee Post Office at 341 W. St. Paul Ave.

In 2008, USPS purchased 64 acres in Oak Creek with the intent to develop a new 820,000-square-foot mail processing and distribution center. At the time, USPS announced the facility would be a more efficient building and vacate the downtown facility, which was said to be obsolete. The project hasn’t moved forward since then.

Then in 2015, R2 Companies, a Chicago-based investor and developer, purchased the post office building for $13.1 million. A year later the firm unveiled plans to dramatically redevelop the site.

R2 Companies has since filed a lawsuit seeking to evict the postal service from the building. Settlement talks reached an impasse this spring and the property owner filed an amended complaint.

In the lawsuit, R2 companies argues defects in the building are so severe that it would render the property unusable, though attorneys representing USPS say the landlord has not provided any evidence backing the claim.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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