Former Midway Post Office Getting Ready for a Change

by on July 9, 2020 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Eric S. Page / 7SanDiego / July 8, 2020

The hulking concrete structure at the site of the former central post office on Midway Drive in San Diego has been haunting a stretch of Point Loma for nearly a decade, with little to no activity at the location.

No good activity, anyway. Back in 2015, James Dudley cut a lock on a fence and broke into the building, stripping out nearly 700 pounds of copper before he was discovered loading it into his vehicle. He pulled a 30-month sentence and was ordered to pay $123,984.08 to the Postal Service for his trouble.

For years, the property, bounded by Barnett Avenue to the south and Midway Drive to the east, has been as still as a graveyard. Its glory days began in 1972, when the building became the city’s main post office and was San Diego’s go-to for late tax filers, with drivers lining up April 15 to drop off returns. Its descent, however, began in ’93, when the Margaret L. Sellers Processing and Distribution Center in Carmel Mountain Ranch became the main USPS facility in San Diego, capable of handling as much as 10 times the volume that had been processed at the Midway branch. Still, a small, temporary building on the site has been handling USPS retail services ever since.

There were reports in 2015 that the site had been sold, with the San Diego Business Journal reporting that the 16-acre site had been purchased by Rexford Industrial Realty of Los Angeles, for $19.3 million.

For the remainder of this piece, please go here.

Here’s a summary of the OB Rag coverage of development plans for the former Post Office over these past five years.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Peter from South O July 9, 2020 at 12:57 pm

As much ado as has been made about Lindbergh here at the ‘Rag I thought I’d point out the historical connection that the Midway PO site has with his exploits. Prior to WWII the area was the Dutch Flats Airport. Charles A. Lindbergh made the first flight of his Spirit of St. Louis there, and the PO building had a bunch of brass plaques commemorating same.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie July 9, 2020 at 1:04 pm

I worked one summer at the “old” main PO downtown during college and was around when the Midway one was built – and, man, it looked like a fortress – much like the main firestation downtown looks; they both were part of a wave of neo-fascist architecture that developed as a response to the civil-rights and anti-war protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Am familiar with Dutch Flats; also did you know Peter there used to be a small airfield in what’s now Mission Bay Park?

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Peter Peter from South O July 9, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Yessir. There were a LOT of them around San Diego during the early years of aviation. Bing Crosby and his gang of merry men built an airstrip south of the Del Mar racetrack (just East of the RR tracks in the Penasquitos Lagoon) for the well-heeled to attend the races. You can still see some of the concrete foundations from the train.

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Peter Peter from South O July 10, 2020 at 11:22 am

Not really “fascist architecture”

Brutalist architecture is a movement that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. The term originates from the French word for “raw.” The architectural style is characterized by its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy. Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism and frivolity of some 1930s and 1940s architecture.

Our best Brutalist example is the Geisel Library.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie July 10, 2020 at 2:42 pm

Just to keep this going, there is a whale of a difference between the Geisel Library at UCSD and the old Midway PO and the Firestation downtown. The library has a lot of glass, is airy and inspiring whereas both the PO and the FS look like they’re ready for a siege.

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Peter Peter from South O July 10, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Oh, yes. Remember when they were trying to get the PO designated a historic bldg? The committee responded that it was a mixture of International and Brutalist, “and not very good Brutalism, at that.
One architect described why Brutalism died out: “They (buildings) were difficult to modify once built, and horribly difficult to demolish”.

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Avatar Paul Webb July 9, 2020 at 4:02 pm

You know when I first moved to San Diego and was exploring my new home, I saw the Midway post office and was flabbergasted. What in the heck is a dam doing in the middle of town?

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie July 10, 2020 at 10:56 am

Paul, when you have a chance, go look at the main firestation downtown SD and tell me I’m wrong.

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Avatar Paul Webb July 10, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Not arguing with you, Frank, just giving my first impression from 46 years ago. I guess it was influenced by the Sepulveda Dam in the San Fernando Valley, which is actually a dam in a place where you wouldn’t expect one.

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