Landmark For Sale
Last year in February we first broke the story that the United States Postal Service planned on selling the Bronx General Post Office. Subsequently the story was immediately picked up by the New York Times in an article by Donald Dunlap.
Community activists and residents alike, along with politicians, were (and still remain) upset at the sale of a landmarked building which is a heart and pride of the South Bronx and the borough overall.
We were all worried about the interior lobby of the 79 year old post office which is, “lined with 13 museum-worthy murals by artists Ben Shan and Bernarda Bryson Shan” which wasn’t landmarked.
Luckily back in December, Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to grant landmark status to the Bronx General Post Office’s lobby in its entirety thus protecting the culturally, architecturally, and historically significant interior.
Now today Winnie Hu of the New York Times reports that the USPS is moving onto the next phase in the sale of the property despite community opposition.
According to the article, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr met with developers Youngwoo & Associates last month who are entertaining the idea of turning the post office into a marketplace.
The New ‘Bronx Market’
Since I first found out about the sale I began to brainstorm on what possible uses the building could take on. I can’t help it with 15 years of real estate experience.
I also am not opposed to the sale especially since the exterior of the building is landmarked and so is the lobby.
We need to be realistic. The USPS is dying and rather than have the building end up decaying like the landmarked PS 31 just a few blocks south, I would prefer it sold to a developer who has the vision to bring something transformative to the building and truly world-class for the Bronx.
The Bronx General Post Office is huge at 150,000 square feet and due to its high ceilings can easily add another 100,000 square feet of space by dividing some of the floors.
The lower levels can be used as a market much like Eataly except it would not solely be Italian but offer the best variety of ethnic culinary delights the Bronx has to offer. Think of the place permeating with the aroma of the cuisines of Albania, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Italy, Bangladesh, India, Jamaica, Ireland, Nigeria, Mexico, and all the many other ethnicities that our borough is home to.
Imagine a year-round farmer’s market located inside as well where you can buy locally grown produce right in our borough or the smell of a spice market also located indoors.
Like Eataly, the rooftop can be used for a restaurant and bar and maybe even add some green space.
The floors in between the market and the rooftops can be used as offices like at the Chelsea Market or business incubators, gallery spaces for local artists — the possibilities are endless.
Surrounding the post office on either side are wide terraces which can be used as outdoor cafés.
The post office can easily remain in the building as they only need 7,500 square feet to operate.
Such a marketplace can be a major boon for Melrose, The Lower Concourse, and the Bronx as a whole.
The building is located right next to the 149th Street and Grand Concourse subway station on the 2,4, and 5 express trains which sees over 4 million passengers annually. Just one stop North on the 4 train is 161st Street and River Avenue, right next to Yankee Stadium, which has a ridership of almost 9 million a year and one stop East on the 2 and 5 Line you have 3rd Avenue and 149th Street Station with 7.5 million riders annually.
That’s an impressive 20 million riders at the location and adjacent stations alone.
The first luxury boutique hotel in the Bronx, the Opera House Hotel which has already received over 5,000 guests since it opened in August of last year and attracts folks from all over the country and the world, is also right on 149th Street just a 10 minute stroll or a 2 minute, one stop subway ride from 3rd Avenue and 149th Street — one of the busiest intersections in the city with over 200,000 pedestrians a day.
The Upper East Side is 10 minutes away at 86th and Lexington Avenue on the 4 and 5 train. Harlem is only 1 stop away and 3 minutes on the 2 Line or even the 145th Street bridge which is heavily used by pedestrians.
A ‘Bronx Market’ of this caliber as I’ve described would keep much needed money locally as it would not only be a destination for Yankee Stadium fans and tourists but it would be a place where residents of the Bronx can congregate and keep their money in our borough.
If the sale is to go on, let’s make sure whatever goes in there is something that the entire Bronx can enjoy and be proud of.
Ultimately, whatever goes in the building should be a transparent process and have community input as hard as that would be considering it would be dealing with a private owner.