What to do with downtown Fort Worth post office?

12/02/2013 5:41 PM

12/03/2013 9:35 AM

The U.S. Postal Service will brief the Fort Worth City Council today on the possibility of relocating the downtown post office on Lancaster Avenue.

The historic federal building was listed with 3,700 other post offices being studied for closure over two years ago because of “excess capacity” and the falling revenue of the Postal Service.

The city of Fort Worth has contemplated buying the building as a potential City Hall since 2004, according to Star-Telegram archives, spending $200,000 to study the possibility about four years ago.

Mayor Betsy Price said the city could still be interested in that idea, but the “numbers have to be feasible.”

“I think there is some interest, certainly that is a very historic building and we want it to be put to good use and promote development along Lancaster,” Price said.

The Tarrant County Appraisal District valued the land at $3.53 million and the building at $2.65 million, for a total of $6.1 million.

Money woes

The Postal Service ended the 2013 fiscal year with a net loss of $5 billion, which marks seven consecutive years the agency has posted losses, according to a Nov. 15 news release.

The Postal Service is being threatened by “onerous mandates in existing law and continued First-Class Mail volume declines,” according to the news release. First-Class Mail, the most profitable product, fell by 2.8 billion pieces from 2012.

A five-year business plan put forth by the Postal Service makes several recommendations for legislative changes, including restructuring the Postal Service employee health plan, adjusting delivery frequency to six-day packages and five-day mail service and reforming workers compensation.

Comment period

Sandra Rybicki, a real estate specialist for the U.S. Postal Service, will brief the council and citizens on the process for a relocation of retail services at today’s 4 p.m. pre-council meeting.

Residents will have 15 days to comment on the possible relocation, and can send comments and written questions to Rybicki at Southern Facilities Service Office, P.O. Box 667180, Dallas, TX, 75266.

Sam Bolen, spokesman for the Postal Service, said the briefing is the first step of the process, but added that the decision to sell or close the building could depend on the comments received from the council and citizens.

“We are notifying the public and getting their feedback before we take the next step,” Bolen said. “It is about transparency.”

Construction on the post office began in 1931. The building was designed by local architect Wyatt C. Hendrick, according to Star-Telegram archives. Hendrick designed the building with details in mind, down to the furniture.

The council also is expected to hear an update on the future operating model of the municipal golf fund and vote on the Ten Year Strategic Action Plan for Downtown Fort Worth.

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