Southside Post Office reopens after May 2020 unrest

The reopened Lake Street station of the United States Postal Service, located at 1st Ave. S. and E. 31st St., appeared to be business as usual a day after it opened. People lined up, quietly, on a rainy day to send their mail, request a money order, or change their address. 

Fred Brombach, the stalwart postal worker who has been at the station for decades, yelled out to waiting customers every so often, the text 55408 emblazoned in a wall painted red immediately behind him. “Welcome to our new post office! Welcome, welcome!” yelled Brombach. 

The station reopened on October 11, just over two years after it and another Southside station were destroyed amid unrest days following George Floyd’s murder. 

Although the new station is on the same footprint as the old, it looks very different from what stood there before. The exterior is no longer clad entirely in brick. Rather, the building is made of precast concrete panels painted in the colors of the Postal Service’s brand identity. 

The short flight of stairs have been removed, and people, particularly those in wheelchairs, no longer have to navigate a ramp that makes turns. 

The station has more parking, too, now 34 spaces compared to 20 at the old station. The entrance is set farther back from the corner of the street. The bike racks, which are now behind the entrance from the 1st Ave. side, look different; although they handle four bicycles like before, they are notoriously known for being difficult to use. 

The appearance inside the station, however, drastically differs from the interior of the old station. It’s roomier, brighter, and more colorful compared to the drab, cramped and crowded interior that existed beforehand. The corridor where P.O. Box users check their mail is integrated with the rest of the station, which is different from the old station where users had to make a left to access them in a crowded nook. 

The new station will apparently consolidate retail services for both the 55406 and 55408 zip codes, previously located inside the old Kmart, for the next year. The Minnehaha station, which serves the 55406 zip code, is currently being rebuilt and is anticipated to reopen next year. P.O. Box service for those in the 55406 zip code remains in the old Kmart building for now. 

The MSR could not retrieve information on what it cost to rebuild both stations by press time.

Shamun Haji Bare, who lives and works near the station, said, “I’m glad they’re making progress on building things back here. I wish that none of the damage ever happened.”

The only part of the original building that remains, clad entirely in red brick, handles mail processing. On its facade, someone wrote in chalk “we are back to serve you!” followed by an envelope and heart symbol.

The Postal Service will host a Grand Opening celebration on October 20.

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