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Historic Post Office Will Move Out of Industry City, Prompting Local Uproar

Relocation out of booming Sunset Park business and shopping complex comes as U.S. Postal Service retrenches nationwide.

Locals dropped off packages at the USPS branch in Sunset Park’s Industry City, Aug. 21, 2020.
Locals dropped off packages at the USPS branch in Sunset Park’s Industry City, Aug. 21, 2020.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

A historic post office in Brooklyn’s Industry City complex is set to close, disappointing local residents, employees and elected officials who accuse its landlord of squeezing out the U.S. Postal Service.

A USPS representative confirmed to THE CITY that the Bush Terminal Station on Third Avenue will close and relocate, but didn’t explain when, where or why.

“The Bush Terminal facility relocation is a project in two parts,” said spokesperson Amy Gibbs in an email, promising that the storefront where customers buy stamps and send packages will have a new home soon. “The retail facility is on schedule and set to be finalized well ahead of the holiday season.”

Meanwhile, Gibbs said, postal carriers will continue to use Industry City as a base. Indeed, said a spokesperson for the sprawling retail, food and workshop complex, Tom Corsillo, “the USPS is expanding its warehouse distribution facility at Industry City.”

Samuel Parham, 67, uses a USPS location in Sunset Park’s Industry City, Aug. 21, 2020.
Samuel Parham, 67, uses a USPS location in Sunset Park’s Industry City, Aug. 21, 2020.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Added Corsillo: “Despite our best efforts to keep its retail operations, the USPS has decided to move it elsewhere in Sunset Park.”

The move comes as expansion plans for Industry City undergo contentious public review. Last week, the City Planning Commission voted in favor of the proposal, which will next go to a vote before a divided City Council.

In a January 2019 letter to the district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 7, which is posted in the window of the retail post office, Tom Samra, vice president for facilities of the USPS, wrote that the “landlord at its current facility will not enter into a long-term lease.”

The letter also invoked financial constraints that the Postal Service has recently used to justify scaling back service across the country.

“Postal Service operations are not supported by tax dollars,” Samra’s letter read. “To be self-sustaining, the Postal Service must make decisions that ensure it provides adequate and affordable postal services in a manner that is as efficient and economical as possible.”

On Tuesday, state Attorney General Letitia James and the City of New York joined New Jersey, Hawaii and San Francisco to sue President Donald Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and USPS to halt the retrenchment ahead of an election where many ballots will be cast by mail.

Longtime Sunset Park resident and community board member Hector Gonzalez, 70, who was running an errand at the Bush Terminal Station on Friday, directed THE CITY to a storefront on Fourth Avenue between 26th and 27th streets half a mile away.

The new location of the Bush Terminal Post Office in Sunset Park on Fourth Avenue was under construction, Aug. 21, 2020.
The new location of the Bush Terminal Post Office in Sunset Park on Fourth Avenue was under construction, Aug. 21, 2020.
Gabriel Sandoval/THE CITY

“The sign is already over there,” he noted.

On the facade of a building under renovation, black plastic wrapped in blue tape obscured a sign that reads “post office.”

Miguel Garcia, 74, has been visiting the Bush Terminal Station since he moved to Sunset Park from Downtown Brooklyn 33 years ago.

“This post office has been here for a long, long time, and I guess the landlord wants more money,” Garcia said. “Man, that’s greedy.”

Rallying Around

Elected officials criticized the relocation, putting blame on the landlord of Industry City, which is owned and managed by Jamestown Properties and Belvedere Capital.

A spokesperson for Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn/Queens) said it is problematic that the new location will be smaller than the existing one, with reduced capacity to serve the community.

“Moreover, it’s disturbing Industry City would make it untenable for USPS to remain in their current location, at the very same time the landlord is putting forth an enormous rezoning proposal,” said the spokesperson, Alex Haurek. “This is yet another example of why Industry City’s promises should be viewed with a high degree of skepticism.”

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), who has fiercely opposed Industry City’s expansion proposal, called the situation “a perfect example of the kind of displacement Industry City will produce on a larger scale if they are granted a rezoning.”

“Despite this USPS location‘s convenience and accessibility to the community, Industry City is fine with allowing rents to rise enough for them to leave,” Menchaca said. “What’s the missing ingredient that would prevent this? Accountability. Without it, the community is seeing that Industry City cares only about profits like any other large developer.”

Industry City’s management has pledged an expansion will bring 20,000 jobs and up to $100 million in annual tax revenue. Opponents have argued that an expansion will displace the working class of Sunset Park and gentrify the waterfront neighborhood.

“I don’t know what they’re thinking about for this facility,” said Jorge Muñiz, a member of the local group Protect Sunset Park. “I just know that the federal government is finding it hard to negotiate with these corporate landlords. Imagine how much harder it will be for working class people, people of color, to negotiate with these dudes to get a fair deal.”

On Tuesday, Muñiz and Protect Sunset Park staged a rally in front of the post office branch to support postal workers, billed as “part of a national #SaveThePostOffice day of action happening in coordination with the American Postal Workers Union.”

USPS courier Frankie Rodríguez, 52, works at the Industry City branch in Brooklyn, Aug. 21, 2020.
USPS courier Frankie Rodríguez, 52, works at the Industry City branch in Brooklyn, Aug. 21, 2020.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

On the branch’s loading dock Friday, Frankie Rodriguez, 52, a lifelong Sunset Park resident who works for the USPS, said he welcomed the idea of moving locations, saying it’s time for change.

Another postal service employee, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said the move would not be better but rather an inconvenience to all: “Industry City is running us out.”

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