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New post office breaks ground

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

As shovels clanged off the dry ground in an empty lot outside the Dover Police Department July 6, officials celebrated the start of construction for the new 21,000 square-foot Dover Post Office on 350 S. Queen Street.

Mayor Robin Christiansen has been working with city staff to move the post office for the past two years. “It’s kind of sentimental to me to be involved with the relocation of the Dover Post Office,” he said. He explained that his father was a Dover letter carrier in the 1930s and worked at 55 Loockerman Street when it opened in the 1960s.

Christiansen said in an earlier interview that the move could help the city as part of the Downtown Development area. It joins other projects like the new Kent County Family Court building on Water Street.

“It’s going to create new small businesses downtown. When this is all over with, what we’re going through, it will be beneficial to the city of Dover,” he said, referring to the pandemic.

Delmarva Veteran Builders is the construction company taking on the $7.35 million project. President Chris Eccleston said they considered how the post office could benefit the city.

“We recognize what it would do for the town of Dover, and we wanted to be involved. We’re very much community-minded folks,” Eccleston said. While working on a site, DVB will often give back through service projects like painting murals or supporting schools.

As the name suggests, a big part of the company’s mission is providing opportunities for veterans, guardsmen and reservists. About half of the company’s 25 people fall in this category and represents all four branches and the Coast Guard. Expecting a construction crew of 200 to 300 people, Eccleston said “this project is our largest project right now.”

Sen. Tom Carper made a connection to his time serving in Vietnam with the Navy and how much receiving mail meant to him then. He donned a hard hat and showed support for the U.S. Postal Service. “My staff and I are anxious to make sure that we do our part to make sure that the postal service is around, not just around, not just hanging on, but alive and vibrant for as long as we have a country,” he said.

Chesapeake Utilities sold the site to the United States Postal Service March 30. Delmarva Veteran Builders has been working for the past couple months to demolish six buildings. Once DVB receives a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the builders can start moving dirt.

Chief Operating Officer Kathryn Ellis said people will start to see construction in about a month, and the entire project should be finished next summer. She described the building, which will face Bank Lane and the police department.

“Two sides of it will have carrier entrances,” she said. “It’s going to be an all-brick building, your standard brick as you see for any postal service, but it will be quite large on the inside. It will have all the necessary facilities for the staff with their breakrooms, their locker rooms, changing rooms, bathroom facilities, showers.”

While some post offices have decided to split into separate buildings for retail and delivery operations, the Dover Post Office said it was important to keep everything under one roof.

“Operationally, it is more practical to keep all of the postal functions in one building,” a U.S. Postal Service representative said in an email. “Having operations in two separate facilities presents more challenges – transportation, span of control, maintenance to name a few.”