Updated plans for USPS Oak Creek project call for 935,000-square-foot facility

Could eventually free up downtown post office building for redevelopment

Photo courtesy Shutterstock
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:32 pm

Updated plans for the U.S. Postal Service’s planned Oak Creek facility reveal it could eventually total 935,000 square feet.

The new facility could allow the postal service to move out of its downtown Milwaukee building, freeing it up for redevelopment.

USPS has for some time planned to build a new mail processing and distribution center on a 62-acre parcel at 2201 E. College Ave. in Oak Creek, in order to consolidate operations currently scattered across a few locations in the Milwaukee area.

According to the latest plans, which were filed with the Wisconsin Department Natural Resources as part of an application to fill wetlands, the proposed facility would be constructed in two phases. The first phase would consist of a 423,000-square-foot mail processing annex, and the second phase would include a 511,100-square-foot processing and distribution center.

“The size of the proposed structure has been determined by the USPS as the minimum size necessary for the deployment of modern mail processing equipment and technology for projected future operations,” the documents state.

Based on other recent filings with the DNR, a facility of this size would be used to consolidate all Milwaukee-area locations. This would include the downtown Milwaukee post office facility at 341 W. St. Paul Ave., one on South 10th Street in Oak Creek and a 49,000-square-foot warehouse on South Second Street in Milwaukee.

However, according to USPS spokesman Robert Sheehan, no decision has been made to expand the building beyond its initial 423,000-square-foot phase one. That project will only replace the oak Creek warehouse.

“The application was filed for the entire development, but there has been no decision made to expand the building beyond what has been contracted out for replacing only the Mail Processing Annex operation currently located in a leased building in Oak Creek,” Sheehan wrote in an email. “The wetlands permit is for the entire development so that we would be covered if a decision is made to build a bigger building sometime in the near future.”

The downtown Milwaukee post office building is being eyed for redevelopment. R2 Companies, a Chicago-based investor and developer, owns that building and in 2016 unveiled plans to dramatically redevelop the site. R2 sought to evict USPS from the building over maintenance issues but that lawsuit was recently dismissed.

Matt Garrison, R2’s managing principal, said on Monday that USPS has not informed him that they intend to move out of the downtown facility.

USPS has mulled a new Milwaukee facility for roughly 20 years. It first began advertising for a development site in 1998. The agency then purchased the Oak Creek site in 2008 to develop a new 820,000-square-foot facility. That project didn’t move forward.

The project was brought back to life when USPS started its newest DNR application process in approximately early September. Documents filed with the application were light on details at the time.

Then in October, the city of Oak Creek said it was informed that USPS would construct a 425,000-square-foot building, which could be expanded to more than 800,000 square feet. What’s more, new documents filed with the DNR around the same time indicated the larger facility would consolidate the agency’s three operations under one roof.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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