First Look: Mesa's long-awaited post office transformation
The long-shuttered historic post office and federal building in downtown Mesa is officially remodeled, repurposed and reopened.
State of play: Now called The Post, the structure on Macdonald and Pepper Place is a city-owned events space that will host workshops, meetings and other community functions.
Why it matters: While new apartment buildings and businesses have sprung up around downtown, this adaptive reuse project represents a commitment to maintaining the city's history.
- This is one example of how local leaders are trying to balance the sometimes competing interests of growth and historic preservation in one of the Valley's oldest and largest cities.
Flashback: In 1937, the building opened as Mesa's first federal post office building.
- Francis Pomeroy, then the city's postmaster, called in a favor with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to have U.S. Postmaster General James Farley at the building's dedication — a rare honor and point of pride for the city, Mesa Preservation Foundation president Vic Linhoff said.
In 1970, a larger post office opened on Center Street and the original was converted into offices for federal departments like the National Park Services. By 2001, the feds no longer had a need for the building and declared it surplus property, leaving its fate hanging in the balance.
- The City of Mesa, with prompting from historic preservationists, asked the U.S. government to transfer ownership to the city, which it did under the condition it be used for community or museum purposes.
The intrigue: For nearly two decades, the city struggled to find a use for the building that was in need of significant restoration. A plan to move the Mesa Historical Museum to the site fell apart in 2017.
- In 2018, Mesa voters approved a bond that included funding to make it a community space, which provided $7.4 million for the project.
1 cool thing: Three of the granddaughters of Grant Macdonald, who served as the city's postmaster from 1941 to 1971, spoke at Thursday's grand opening ceremony.
- They applauded the city for saving the building their grandfather loved and read a passage from his retirement speech: "My deep feeling for the city of Mesa and the people of Mesa have influenced my performance as postmaster. I grew up feeling that Mesa was the best place in the world to live — and I wanted to keep it that way."
What's next: The rear of The Post will eventually be transformed into an outdoor performance space and will include a garden with historic neon signs saved by the Mesa Preservation Foundation.
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