BP Diaz vows to bar storage facility at historic post office

Local leaders hope that the interior of the landmarked General Post Office on the Grand Concourse won't become a storage site.

They should stuff their storage somewhere else.

That’s what Bronx local leaders are demanding as they try to influence the ultimate fate of the borough’s iconic General Post Office with its Depression-era murals.

“The building the way that it is now is ripe for, say, a storage company to come in,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at a panel at New York Law School Friday Feb. 7. “And I will Krazy Glue myself to the door before I will allow that to happen.”

Locals locked out?

But it is unclear at this point if Diaz, or any other community leader for that matter, will have any say over what will happen to the four-story 159,000 square foot building on the Grand Concourse and E. 149th Street.

The United States Postal Service already listed it for sale in January despite a years-long protest from local community groups and elected officials.

USPS has said it needs to close a yawning $20 billion budget gap by 2015.

After the agency sells the property, it plans to wash its hands of it entirely.

“Future uses of the facility are not within our decision-making equation,” USPS spokesperson Connie Chirichello stated in an email.

Diaz may have to break out the Elmer’s Glue-All.

“The way it’s traditionally gone, they pretty much decide who they want to sell it to,” said Steve Hutchins, an NYU professor who tracks post office sales on his website savethepostoffice.com, “and usually it’s to the highest bidder.”

Marketplace on table

USPS has stayed mum on how many or what type of bids it has already received for the site, which has an estimated value of around $14 million. Local leaders would like to see a developer build some sort of market facility that the community can use.

“I think the people here would be on board with the market proposal,” said Jose Rodriguez, district manager of local Community Board 4.

Reports surfaced last week that Young Woo and Associates —whose idea of an eclectic marketplace was considered for the Kingsbridge Armory but eventually shot down —was among the bidders.

An official reached for comment at that company could not confirm that the developer had made a bid.

Storage site concerns

Borough officials’ fear that a landmarked space — a developer cannot touch either the Post Office’s edifice or its mural-lined interior —will become a storage facility doesn’t come totally out of left field.

In November 2012, NYC storage titan Tuck-it-away expanded into the former H. W. Wilson bookmaking lighthouse in Highbridge.

But the specifics of the Post Office situation complicate any developer’s plan. Any buyer would sign a “convenant” that among other requirements says that it must allow the public to enter once a month and view the 13 Depression-era murals.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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