Situated in Detroit’s west side industrial niche, the US Post Office at 1401 West Fort Street is seen by many as an outdated, underutilized, and monolithic structure that currently blocks the development trajectory of the up and coming neighborhood Corktown to the north that is attempting to expand toward the riverfront. Also to the north are light industrial and commercial uses, and to the south, an underutilized (because largely inaccessible) public waterfront parkland.

Due in part to its isolation from Trumbull Avenue and Corktown, the adjacent West Riverfront Park (opposite the Post Office from Trumbull) is currently a sparsely populated open grass field with the Detroit Riverwalk dead-ending into an adjacent industrial storage yard.

Completed in 1959, the Post Office was the last major railroad-oriented building built in downtown Detroit. It is a ten-story building above ground with two below –which previously tied into the Michigan Central Rail Line with tunnels to Canada.

The postal center remains a mail-sorting hub for metro Detroit, and in the past employed hundreds of Detroit residents. However, need for its continued operation has been questioned because processing quantities are down, and there are government talks to shut down the mail-processing operations at this facility and to move them to a suburb such as Metroplex or Allen Park.

Corktown is an emerging Detroit cultural district north of the Post Office. It includes the former Detroit Tiger Stadium, now a public baseball diamond; the new home of Quicken Loans state-of-the-art 66,000 square foot technology center at 1415 Rosa Parks Boulevard; and some of the oldest existing residential neighborhoods in Detroit, originally built as detached homes and row houses by Irish settlers and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Corktown is currently a hot spot for developers looking to retrofit existing structures. The neighborhood is largely residential south of Michigan Avenue, with commercial properties developing along Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue.

The site is zoned M4 – Intensive Industrial District, defined as “a district that will permit uses which are usually objectionable, and therefore, the district is rarely, if ever, located adjacent to residential districts” (City of Detroit Zoning Ordinance).