Temporary post office coming to Kmart

The U.S. Postal Service will rent space in the Lake Street Kmart starting Aug. 1. File photo

Before it’s demolished to clear the path for the much-anticipated reconnection of Nicollet Avenue, the recently closed Lake Street Kmart will become a temporary post office.

Minneapolis is leasing 36,500 square feet in the western half of the building to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), as the agency rebuilds two offices destroyed in the civil unrest following George Floyd’s killing. That includes the post office at 31st & 1st in the Lyndale neighborhood.

Starting Aug. 1, USPS will pay the city $30,416 a month to rent the space, which also includes exclusive access to a loading dock. The six-month lease runs through January 2021, but the post office retains the right to renew it up to three times through July 2022.

The city said that it will take the agency 12 to 24 months to rebuild the destroyed stations. (A USPS spokesperson declined to comment.)

The city also said that the lease does not “negatively impact” its plans for reopening Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street. It had planned to demolish the Kmart and a former Supervalu store immediately next door in 2020. A spokesperson did not respond to a request to provide an updated timeline.

The city bought the 7-acre site in 2017 for $8 million, and in March bought out the 33 years remaining on Kmart’s lease of the site for $9.1 million.

A group of housing advocates is mulling a proposal that would turn the Kmart into a 196-unit temporary shelter, complete with a dining room, showers and laundry. The group does not have an agreement with the city, and City Council President Lisa Bender told the Minnesota Reformer that she questions having so many people live in one shelter.