People are P.O.’d over P.O.’s moving on E. 14th St.

A postal worker moved equipment along E. 14th St. to the new post office location last week.     Photo by Liza Béar
A postal worker moved equipment along E. 14th St. to the new post office location last week. Photo by Liza Béar

BY LIZA BéAR  |  On Fri., Feb. 21, after months of uncertainty about the fate of the Peter Stuyvesant Station Post Office, a plain sheet of typed paper affixed to the station’s glass doors announced, to the surprise of most, that it was closing early, at 1 p.m., because it was in the process of being moved.

The single-story brick building, built in 1952 to post office specifications, sports a 100-foot-long frontage on a busy strip of E. 14th St.’s south side between Avenue A and First Ave. Adjacent on its eastern flank is the long-shuttered and graffitied Stuyvesant Stationery store — an indication, perhaps, that the strip is being readied for development.

Lisa Pakulski, a jazz singer who lives on St. Mark’s Place, held out her arms in a what-can-we-do gesture, as she waited online.

“The only reason they’re relocating,ˮ Pakulski said, “is obviously because of redevelopment, which seems to be happening regardless of what people in the neighborhood want. Every day something closes and other things open that are not as relevant to us, like a Starbucks or a Duane Reade. I prefer it when things are stable,” she said. “There’s a lot of instability in the fact that maybe that whole block is going to disappear.”

To the west of the shuttered post office are functional shops — a 99-cent pizza store, a dry cleaners, a shoe-repair shop and a barber shop — serving the neighborhood, which includes the sprawling Stuyvesant Town residential complex.

According to Conchetta Chirichello, a U.S. Postal Service spokesperson, the station’s lease expired at the start of this year, and they were unable to reach agreement on a new one.

“The landlord had other plans for the building, which is not within our control,ˮ Chirichello stated in an e-mail.

Asked what she thought of the relocation, a thin, elderly lady who was leaving the post office, vividly attired in a turquoise coat and purple scarf, carrying two large bags and bent over a cane, mumbled one word, “Disgusting.”

The new location is a long cross-town block to the west at 333 E. 14th St., formerly home to a Duane Reade. The purportedly state-of-the-art facility, designed by CTS Group, is sharply angled, a constricted “V,” because of the location of the air-conditioner unit, and the fact that, at 6,940 square feet, it’s only one-tenth of the closed station’s size, 56,900 square feet.

The general contractor showed this reporter the architect’s stamp on the drawings. Downsizing translates also into 1,000 fewer P.O. boxes — from 2,622 to 1,600. A question about how many boxes had, in fact, been rented at the old location was referred to the supervisor, and has not yet been answered.

On Saturday morning, a smaller sign over the closed station’s shutters read, somewhat melodramatically, “This post office location is closed forever” with the word “forever” in boldface print. Customers were shuttling hurriedly along 14th St. between old and new locations to collect the keys to their new P.O. boxes and wondering where they could pick up their packages.

“It’s a major inconvenience, because of the cost of changing my address,” said a tall blonde woman in red tartan pants and a black leather jacket who wished to remain anonymous. A longtime Downtown resident, she runs a business translating Argentinian tangos and as a language coach. She said she had called the supervisor a week ago about the exact date of the relocation, but that it wasn’t available until Friday.

The new facility boasts a U.S.P.S.-brand blue color scheme and pencil-thin radial LED ceiling lighting.

“This is a little cold for me,” said a computer engineer working in the space. “I prefer the old architecture.”

A postal employee pushing office furniture on a dolly into the narrow side entrance of the facility — which also has a 1,500-square-foot basement — said that 432 E. 14th St., the station’s former location, had been sold.

Just before the 1 p.m. closing time, Marilee Santos, a school paraprofessional in a flared black wool coat and sunglasses, a 33-year neighborhood resident, was rushing to pick up her P.O. box key. Now living on Avenue D and 10th St., she said the new location was quite a trek for her.

Accompanied by one of her sons in a green Ninja Turtle T-shirt, Darleen, 50, a homemaker with seven children who lives on Eighth St. and Avenue D, echoed Santos’s sentiments. The relocation did bother her, Darleen said, with resignation, because she has scoliosis and can’t walk too well.

The movers, pointing toward the new facility, signaled that the new manager, Yvonne Mullings, was now on the premises.

An April 25, 2013, article in The Villager on the Community Board 3 public hearing on the Peter Stuyvesant P.O. relocation noted that services would be divided between three locations: The storefront at 333 E. 14th St. would offer retail services, such as stamp sales and P.O. boxes; the carriers who sort and deliver mail to homes and businesses would be moved to the Madison Square Station, on E. 23rd Street near Third Ave.; and large parcel services would operate out of the F.D.R. Station, at E. 54th St. and Third Ave.

However, U.S.P.S. Facilities Management must have had a change of heart, perhaps in response to public outcry, because, according to Mullings, “There will be no change in the services offered at the new location.”

The new post office was slated to open at 9 a.m. on Mon., Feb. 24.