The Postal Service hasn’t discontinued many post offices over the past couple of years, but it has closed some for emergency suspensions, and it has also relocated several others.
In some cases, the Postal Service relocated from one leased property to another, moving to a smaller space where the rent was cheaper. In other cases, the Postal Service moved out of a building it owned, leased a smaller space, and then put the property up for sale.
This week the Postal Service announced plans for another relocation and disposal — the Fleetwood Station Post Office on Addicks Howell Road in Houston, Texas. There will be a public meeting about the relocation at the post office on September 29.
The Postal Service has owned the Fleetwood Station since 1998. It will probably explain to the public that the 28,000-square-foot building is more than it needs, and leasing a smaller space would save money. The building will eventually be put up for sale, which will also help by bringing in some extra revenue.
The Postal Service doesn’t publish a list of relocations, but back in December 2013, we used newspaper articles and other sources to prepare a list of recent relocations. As discussed in this previous post, the list had about 80 relocations.
Five of them were in Houston (as reported in the Houston Chronicle): Memorial Park Station (10505 Town and Country Way), Julius Melcher Station (2802 Timmons Ln.), Greenbriar Station (3740 Greenbriar St.), University Station (1319 Richmond Ave.), and Southmore Station (4110 Almeda).
Since 2013, a few more Houston facilities have been slated for relocation and sale.
Last fall, the Postal Service announced that the Heights Finance Station on Yale Street would be relocated. After making a final decision to relocate, the Postal Service said in January that the property would be put up for sale.
Earlier this year, the Postal Service also closed down the Barbara Jordan Post Office (the Houston P&DC) on Franklin Street. All operations were transferred to the North Houston P&DC on Aldine Bender Road. That consolidation cost over $70 million — about $50 million to modify the North Houston facility, plus another $23 million for “material handling” and other expenses.
In August of this year, the Postal Service sold the Franklin Street P&DC and its 16-acre site to Lovett Commercial for an undisclosed price. It’s a historic building, eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but it looks as though it is headed for demolition. (More on that in this previous post.)
Aside from the Fleetwood Station, where a final decision hasn’t been made yet, the other relocation decisions have all been finalized, the opportunity for appeal has passed, and the buildings are listed for sale on the USPS Properties for Sale website. At this point, though, the relocation hasn’t happened yet, and the post offices are still open for business.
There is one exception, however. The Postal Service decided not to move forward on the relocation of the Southmore Station. Citizens and elected officials protested vigorously against this relocation because the property was the site of the first sit-in, a 1960 demonstration against segregated lunch counters. In May of 2014, the Postal Service said it had dropped plans to relocate Southmore Station. The other relocations will presumably take place once the Postal Service has found buyers for the properties and new locations for the post offices.
Houston has a lot of post offices — about 37 in leased properties and 54 in buildings owned by the Postal Service — but for some reason it has seen more than its share of these relocation-and-disposal decisions.
The Postal Service owns a total of about 8,600 facilities. According to this OIG report, in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service earmarked 49 properties for sale — less than one percent of the total.
The Fleetwood Station represents the seventh facility earmarked for disposal in Houston over the past two years (not including Southmore). That represents about 13 percent of the USPS-owned properties in Houston. Along the same lines, the USPS Properties for Sale website currently has 39 buildings for sale. Five of them, or 13 percent, are in Houston.
Why Houston has been singled out this way is hard to say. It’s not as if the population of the city has been declining. In 2000, it had a population of 1.978 million; by 2013, it had grown to 2.196 million. According to Wikipedia, it’s the most populous city in Texas and the American South, and the fourth most populous city in the United States.
Maybe all the growth has made postal properties more valuable and more worth selling, or maybe CBRE, which manages USPS properties, has more of an interest in Houston than elsewhere, or maybe there’s another reason. Who knows? The Postal Service works in mysterious ways.
(Image sources: click on the image in the slideshow)