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Written by Erik Bojnansky, BT Senior Writer   
March 2019

New Buena Vista Post Office has happy customers

APostOffice_1fter years of anticipation, it finally happened. The Buena Vista Post Office has moved out of the Design District space it had occupied since 1962.

But those who were accustomed to using the old post office on NE 39th Street won’t have to travel far to buy stamps, mail packages, or open a post office box.

On February 19, the Buena Vista Post Office reopened a half-mile away in a retail building at 3246 N. Miami Ave. That retail building happens to be across the street from Midtown Miami, the 56-acre, mixed-use project with apartments, condos, retail, offices, and hotel rooms that broke ground in 2003 and has been credited with sparking the ongoing economic development of Wynwood, Edgewater, the Design District, and Little Haiti.

Juan Nadal, district marketing manager for the U.S. Postal Service, says that so far, he’s been getting good feedback from the locals.

“They love the new location,” Nadal tells the BT. “They see how clean and bright it is and how big of a difference it is compared to the other location. And we’re excited to be here.”

The new location has 500 new P.O. boxes and 46 parcel lockers within a lobby that will be accessible to customers from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

PostOffice_2

Between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays, anywhere from three to five employees will be on hand at three terminals to help with customers’ postal needs. At least ten free parking spaces will also be available in the back during those hours. And if the spaces are filled, there’s curb space available for anyone who has a pay-by-phone account with the Miami Parking Authority.

Nadal says there’s more lobby space for customers at the new N. Miami Avenue location than at the old two-story, 13,000-square-foot building in the Design District. That’s because the current location is focused on retail operations, while at the old location, 66 NE 39th St., “we had a carrier operation and our window operation all in the same building,” Nadal explains. The carrier/delivery operations once handled in the Design District site have been moved to the Flagler Miami Post Office at 500 NW 2nd Ave.

The USPS moved out of its previous Design District location after New York-based Thor Equities paid $43.2 million for the 72-year-old building and its parking areas in December 2015. The seller was the South Florida chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers, a union for postal workers. With the proceeds from the sale, the NAFC is building a new headquarters in Miramar.

Thor Equities did not return requests for comment, although a banner hung on the former post office space hints that the current post-World War II building will be replaced with a modern structure. A representative of Thor Equities told the BT three years ago that the company intended to demolish the old building and replace it with a 120,000-square-foot complex with retail on the ground floor and residences or hotel rooms above (see “Stamped Out,” February 2016).

PostOffice_3Tony Arellano, managing partner of DWNTWN Realty Advisors, says it makes sense for Thor Equities to build anew. For one thing, the zoning allows a mixed-use, 12-story building. For another, the property is situated in what has become one of the most popular luxury shopping destinations in the United States, where retail leases for between $100 and $300 a square foot and land trades for well over $2000 a square foot. “It’s really gentrified,” Arellano says.

But it wasn’t just the Design District that’s gentrified. Rents throughout the Biscayne Corridor have climbed, and that made it challenging for the USPS to find a new home for the Buena Vista Post Office. At one point, the postal service asked for, and received, an extension from Thor Equities when it couldn’t leave by October 2017 (see “No Forwarding Address,” May 2018).

Eventually the USPS zeroed in on a one-story retail building constructed in 1935 at the corner of NW 33rd Street and N. Miami Avenue. The USPS declined to say what sort of rent the federal agency is paying. Arellano, however, notes that rents in the N. Miami Avenue corridor tend to be around $50 per square foot triple net.

Alex Martinez manages a Mattress Kings store next door to the new Buena Vista Post Office and says he uses the post office all the time for company purposes. “We don’t have to drive into the middle of the Design District anymore,” he says with a smile.

 

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