Real estate deal of the week

Postal Service buying Oak Creek site
The United States Postal Service announced recently that it has agreed to purchase a 64-acre site from Milwaukee-based Cobalt Partners, which assembled the property located southwest of Howell Avenue and College Avenue. The sale price for the property was not disclosed. The Postal Service will build a new, 820,000-square-foot mail distribution and processing center on the site. The facility will replace the mail distribution and processing work down at the U.S. Postal Service facility at 345 W. St. Paul Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. About 1,900 employees will move from the downtown Milwaukee facility to the Oak Creek facility. "We’ve outgrown our existing facility (in downtown Milwaukee)," said U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Marge Oehlke. "This site will allow us to streamline and modernize our operations."

The new Oak Creek facility is expected to take about two years to build and is expected to open about three to five years from now. It took about eight years for the Postal Service to decide where to build the new facility. Other sites that were considered included locations in Racine County and in Johnson Creek in Jefferson County. "We certainly are very excited about the fact that the U.S. Postal Service will continue to be in Milwaukee County for some time," said Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

The facility will increase traffic in the area. College Avenue, which is a Milwaukee County trunk highway, is only two lanes wide, and is in bad condition, between Howell Avenue and Pennsylvania. Walker said infrastructure improvements will be considered for College Avenue. He also said that the Milwaukee County Transit System will consider route changes in the area to serve the workers coming to the facility. The Postal Service selected the site because it is next to Mitchell International Airport, easily accessible to the freeway system and is fairly close to its current facility downtown, Oehlke said.

The site is just outside of the City of Milwaukee, Cudahy and South Milwaukee. It will attract more people to move to those areas, Oak Creek and nearby St. Francis, said Oak Creek Mayor Richard Bolender. The facility should also draw additional commercial development to the area, officials said. "It is a good thing for Oak Creek, St. Francis, Cudahy and Franklin," Bolender said. "I think this is just one of the greatest things to ever happen to the City of Oak Creek. Postal Service, welcome to Oak Creek." 

The Postal Service said it will maintain a vehicle maintenance facility, a retail post office and some administrative offices in downtown Milwaukee. In the coming months, the Postal Service will decide if those operations will remain at 345 W. St. Paul Ave., or if they will be moved to another downtown site, Oehlke said.

The Postal Service leases the space in the downtown Milwaukee building on St. Paul Avenue, which is owned by Menomonee RP LLC, whose registered agent is Jeffrey Santaga of Wauwatosa-based Hanson & Santaga S.C. Santaga could not be reached for comment. The four-story, 941,109-square-foot St. Paul Avenue building used by the Postal Service was constructed in 1967, and has an assessed value of $19.5 million, according to city records. The building is located along the north side of the Menomonee River and is next to the recently redeveloped Milwaukee Intermodal Station, which is used by Amtrak, Greyhound and other bus lines. If the Postal Service vacates the building, it could create a redevelopment opportunity for the property.

Oehlke said the Postal Service plans to abandon the parking lot along the Milwaukee River and across the river from the Historic Third Ward, where it currently parks trucks and semi-trailers. The property’s riverfront location near the Third Ward could make it a prime future development site. "I think this is a win all the way around," Walker said. "We keep the Postal Service and the jobs in Milwaukee County and we get to develop another part of downtown Milwaukee."

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