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    New Ybor post office to replace burned one

    By RYAN MEEHAN
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 18, 2002

    TAMPA -- Nearly two years to the day after a fire destroyed four blocks of Ybor City, including its post office, plans were unveiled Friday for a new postal facility.

    Tampa postmaster Rich Rome said the $3-million project should be completed by the summer or fall of 2003.

    Designers will try to ensure that the new building's exterior complements the rest of Ybor City, Rome said.

    The plans place the building in the middle of the property, in the same spot where the old building stood before the fire of May 19, 2000. Patrick Manteiga, editor and publisher of La Gaceta newspaper, has suggested to the designers that they move the building to the corner of the lot to create a more pedestrian-oriented intersection.

    "If this is truly going to be a historic district, it needs to be a walkable district," Manteiga said.

    Although the new building won't create any new jobs, it will bring back 15 carriers who had to leave after the fire.

    The new office will serve the 33605 ZIP code and will include retail services and 2,300 post office boxes.

    The fire two years ago started after a forklift hit a power line.

    The line fell to the ground and sparked a fire in a 454-unit apartment complex that was under construction. Flames devoured the wood frames and within minutes had spread across the street to the post office.

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