New Haven, Conn., post office in jeopardy of closing

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nbcconnecticut.com: One of the few postal facilities in New Haven, Conn., might soon be closing.  The United States Postal Service has circulated a notice to post office box users that the Federal Station facility on Chapel Street in downtown New Haven is being considered for closure, due in part to a lack of use.

That notice said in part, “… office workload has declined, due in part to vacant post office boxes, as well as the continuous decline in mail volume.”  The notice also said maintenance of the facility is “not cost-effective.”

The closure would leave the downtown area with only one official postal facility, which is getting pushback from New Haven Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who said shutting this facility would “remove New Haven residents and businesses from USPS services.”  Read more.

It’s not clear from the article if the Postal Service has initiated a discontinuance procedure or if it is using some other process. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) released this statement:

“New Haven lost the USPS Federal Station in the Giaimo Federal Building in April 2006 when it was closed due to renovations. At the time, the USPS vowed to reopen this location upon completion. Unfortunately, USPS failed to deliver on that promise, instead opening a P.O. Box only substitute on Chapel Street. Closing the Chapel Street location breaks another promise and further removes New Haven residents and businesses from USPS services.”

“If USPS moves forward with closing this location on Chapel Street, they should immediately act to open a full service Post Office in downtown New Haven. A centrally located facility has the ability to serve a permanent population of approximately 7,500 and a daytime population of over 40,000.With the increase of residents and businesses downtown—along with an economy that is continuing to grow—it is certainly a reasonable and fair request.”

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Postal Service finalizes decision to relocate downtown post office in Muskogee, OK

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Stillwater News Press: U.S. Postal Service officials issued a final decision to relocate its downtown retail service center in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

In a letter dated Jan. 31, officials said the post office will move from its West Okmulgee Avenue location to a suite at Arrowhead Mall. The planned relocation — a process that was made public in July 2015 — was prompted by the need to downsize, reduce costs and increase revenue.

Sandra A. Rybicki, a real estate specialist with the U.S. Postal Service’s facilities implementation division, said during a City Council meeting when the move was made public, the post office was looking to reduce its operating space by about 10,000 square feet. Its Okmulgee Avenue location, she said, is about 26,700 square feet.

“Despite significant cost reductions, the Postal Service continues to experience a net loss as mail volume continues to decline because of increased electronic communication,” Rybicki said at the time. “As a self‐supporting government establishment that receives no tax dollars for its operating expenses, the Postal Service must rely on the sale of postage, products and services to generate revenue.”

Postal Service officials engaged in a public comment period and appeals process. Facilities Vice President Tom A. Samra said those comments were “carefully considered” while making the decision to relocate the post office.

“The Postal Service is sensitive to the impact of this decision on its customers and Muskogee community,” Facilities Vice President Tom A. Samra states in the letter posted at the downtown post office. “The Postal Service properly considered community input, and this decision is consistent with Postal Service objectives.”  Read more.

According to the USPS Facilities Report, the Postal Service has been leasing the Muskogee post office property, and the current lease ends on March 31, 2018.  As indicated in the USPS letter posted about the relocation, the Postal Service “was unable to come to an agreement for a new lease at the current location.”

The new location at the Arrowhead Mall is just over two miles away, but it’s not downtown.  The Muskogee downtown is currently going through a revitalization effort, which will probably be hampered by the absence of a post office.

(Photo: Google Street View)

 

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Reasnor, Iowa, post office closed for emergency suspension

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The Postal Service announced Wednesday what it’s calling a temporary closure of the post office in Reasnor, Iowa, but the Postal Service said there is no timetable to reopen the location.  In a press release, the postal service said all postal operations at the Reasnor office will be relocated to the U.S. Post Office in Monroe at 117 W. Marion St. Reasnor customers will be provided delivery to cluster box units until “a suitable resolution can be determined,” the release said.  Read more.

The press release apparently doesn’t state the cause of the suspension, but the USPS Facilities Report indicates that the lease on the post office expired on January 31, 2018.  The building is also listed for sale. Most likely, there was an issue with renewing the lease.

(Photo: Google Street View)

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How to rent a piece of history: JLL’s USPS Properties for Lease

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Last summer Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) replaced CBRE as the Postal Service’s exclusive provider of real estate services.  As stated on the USPS page on its website, JLL is “the transaction manager and exclusive broker for USPS’ 280 million-square-foot U.S. portfolio.”  JLL is responsible for negotiating leases on 25,500 properties the Postal Service leases from private owners, brokering the sale of USPS properties, and leasing out excess space in USPS  buildings.  (There’s more about the transition from CBRE to JLL in this previous post.)

A few weeks ago, JLL began listing USPS properties for sale and lease on its website.  There are currently about 320 properties on the site.  Three are properties for sale, among them the historic post office in Richmond, Calif.  The rest of them are post offices and other USPS buildings that have extra space that is available for leasing.

The JLL website has a map of the properties and an easy-to-view list, which includes the property address, the total square footage of the building, the square footage for the space available for lease, and a location map.  For all but four of the properties, however, there’s no other information about the nature of the space that’s available.  Presumably, as the site is developed, more information will be added.

In order to learn more about the listings, we merged the JLL list with the USPS facilities reports for each state, which indicate the original date of occupancy for the building, usually the date when construction was completed.   (Our national version of the reports is here.)  We also merged the JLL list with a list of post offices on the National Register that we created a while back.  You can see our new list of properties for lease here, and you can visit the table on Google Fusion here, where it can be filtered, sorted, searched, and downloaded.

 

Following the ACHP’s recommendation

Most of the spaces offered for lease are located in historic post office buildings.  This may be a sign that the Postal Service has decided that leasing out extra space is a better alternative than using the excess as a justification for selling the building.

Perhaps the Postal Service is taking seriously one of the key recommendations in Preserving Historic Post Offices: A Report to Congress, prepared by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation back in 2014.  The report was highly critical of various things the Postal Service was doing — and not doing — to preserve its legacy of historic post offices.

One of the criticisms was that the Postal Service was not following Section 111 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which “requires federal agencies to give serious consideration to alternative uses for historic properties and authorizes leases of such properties to non-federal entities.”

As the ACHP pointed out, “Leasing can provide an income stream to maintain a historic post office while retaining the building in public ownership. This approach could offer an effective tool for dealing with excess capacity while allowing the continued use of the post office for retail operations in a small portion of the building.”

The ACHP proceeds to make this recommendation: “The USPS should evaluate the viability of leasing historic post offices, or portions thereof, in accordance with Section 111 of NHPA as an alternative to disposal.”  Read More

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The Postal Service gets a new real estate provider

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The Postal Service has ended its contract with CBRE as the agency’s exclusive real estate provider.  A few months ago, the Postal Service awarded a contract to a new broker, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

Los Angeles-based CBRE (aka CB Richard Ellis), the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, became the sole provider of real estate services for the Postal Service in 2011.  The contract, as indicated in the Notice of Award, was for four years, starting June 24, 2011, with two 2-year options to renew.  If both options had been exercised, the contract would have run to summer 2019. But in late 2016, a few months before the first option was set to expire, the Postal Service issued a solicitation for a new provider, and in the spring of 2017 it selected Chicago-based JLL.

Aon Center in Chicago, which houses JLL’s headquarters

The relationship between the Postal Service and JLL is not new.  For the past several years JLL has been overseeing the management of equipment and building maintenance for the Postal Service.  In November 2017, JLL was one of 12 companies out of almost 17,000 honored by the Postal Service for a Supplier Performance Award.

JLL’s new role as real estate provider includes negotiating leases on behalf of the Postal Service for properties rented from private landlords, brokering the sale of Postal Service properties, and helping to lease excess space in buildings owned by the Postal Service.

The switch from CBRE to JLL has happened rather quietly.  Neither the Postal Service nor JLL seems to have put out a press release, and there have been no media reports about the award.

But last summer the Postal Service began sending letters to lessors saying that they would be dealing with a new broker.  Then in August, the Association of U.S. Postal Lessors (AUSPL) posted a notice on its website informing its members that “this month JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) takes over as the national contractor for USPS real estate services.”

There’s now a new page on the JLL website listing USPS properties for sale and lease. We’ve also confirmed via email with the Postal Service that JLL is taking over as its real estate provider, and we’ve also learned a few more details about the transition.  Read More

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USPS considers relocation of Green Street post office in Gainesville, FL

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With the U.S. Postal Service considering a move from its Green Street location in Gainesville, Florida, Brenau University officials on Tuesday publicly declared their interest in the property.

“We have long coveted that space,” Brenau President Ed Schrader said during a public hearing on the proposed post office relocation. “We would love to move students into that facility, primarily for our teacher education program, which is growing right now.”

The postal service is looking to consolidate its operations, and any move would not change P.O. Box addresses and the zip code would remain the same.

“We’re not closing the existing post office,” Sandra Rybicki, a real estate specialist with the USPS, said. “What we are doing is currently evaluating the possibility of relocating.”

Rybicki said the current 25,000-square-foot facility on Green Street is “substantially larger than what our needs are” and that the postal service is looking to move its retail operations to another property within a 3.5-mile radius.  Read more.

(Photo: AccessWDUN)

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