Historic Post Offices
April 4, 2013
The Postal Service is finally completing the sale of the historic Purcell Station post office in Plymouth, Michigan, which has been on the market since 2010. The sale is listed as "in contract" on the USPS-CBRE website, but today there's a news report that the sale is a done deal and the building will soon be turned into a gourmet food market. The asking price was $990,000, but the new owners say they paid less. Retail postal services will be moving to a former Dairy Mart store, where the Postal Service will be paying rent of an undisclosed amount. The renovation, however, will cost $240,000, which will eat up a pretty large portion of the sale price, whatever it was. There's a New Deal mural in the post office depicting Plymouth's history, by Cuban-born artist Carlos Lopez. It will remain there to remind customers of their city's past as they shop for truffles and foie gras. Read more.
February 12, 2014
The fire sale of historic post offices continues. Next up is the 1915 post office in New Bedford, Mass. According to the local news, Joseph Mulvey, a Real Estate Specialist with the U.S. Postal Service, has been in contact with city officials, indicating the historic building is too large for what services are provided there, and it’s becoming too costly to maintain. Read more.
January 22, 2014
A local couple has just purchased the historic 1917 post office in Charleston, Illinois. They bought the building through a GSA bid for $135,132, and they're going to turn it into a holistic, all-natural pet food store. A preservation convenant prevents the new owners from demolishing the building, and they must also keep the interior terrazzo floors and spiral staircase intact. The new owners say they plan to respect the building and leave it "as intact as possible." Read more.
December 9, 2011
The Postal Service has announced plans to close and sell another historic post office. The College Station post office on 140th Street in in Harlem was built under the New Deal, and it’s been serving the neighborhood since 1937. It looks like 2014 may be its last year of operation.
As usual, the Postal Service says it plans to open a replacement facility somewhere in the neighborhood, so the closure is classified as a “relocation” and hence not subject to the stringent public notification and participation requirements of a regular discontinuance.
The Postal Service’s real estate specialist Joseph Mulvey, who has overseen numerous such relocations in the Northeast, is once again running the show in New York. He has arranged to speak about the College Station relocation at a meeting of the Manhattan Community Board later this week. That’s the only opportunity the public is likely to have for a face-to-face meeting with postal officials.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, December 12, at 6:30 p.m. The Postal Service’s public notice is not dated, so it’s not clear when elected officials and College Station customers were told about the meeting. But it was only today that the APWU got an email about the planned relocation — just three days before the meeting.
[UPDATE: After being notified that the meeting might be the only opportunity for the public to meet with postal representatives, the Community Board crossed the USPS off its agenda.]
Very few people attend community board meetings, and it will be difficult getting the word out to the community on such short notice. As the Community Alert from the union says, “The Postal Service is piggy backing this important issue as part of an obscure meeting that no one attends.”
Plus, the meeting isn’t being held in the ZIP code area served by the College Station (10030). Instead, it’s being held fifteen blocks away, at 215 West 125th Street, which will make it difficult for seniors and others to even get there.
The union is encouraging community residents and business owners to attend the meeting and to protest the downsizing of the post office to a new, smaller location. That location is yet-to-be-determined, so the meeting and the public comment period won’t be able to address any issues the new location might present.
That’s pretty much the standard M.O. for the Postal Service these days. It has approved numerous relocations — the Bronx, Berkeley, Stamford, and many others — without even identifying the new location. Over the past couple of years, the Postal Service has gone through this relocation procedure in over seventy communities (a list is here). In most of these instances, the Postal Service has yet to close the post office and relocate to a new space; in most of them, the new location hasn't even been found.
But the Postal Service likes to get the legal requirements of the procedure out of the way, and then go looking for a new location and, if it owns the building, a buyer. That's not really what the federal regulations are supposed to accomplish. They're intended to give the community an opportunity to have input on the new location and the future of the historic building. But the Postal Service has been giving lip service to the regulations and pretty much doing whatever it wants, despite a lot of criticism.