Fort Worth could move forward with purchase of historic post office

06/09/2014 9:46 AM

06/10/2014 8:53 AM

Fort Worth will consider taking the next step to buy the historic downtown post office, after the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to relocate the retail services there.

The Lancaster Tax Increment Reinvestment Board will vote Tuesday on creating a development agreement with the city to fund the purchase of the post office.

Councilman Jungus Jordan, who also serves as chairman of the tax increment board, said it will be up to the board to buy the building on West Lancaster Avenue and up to the council to decide how the building will be used.

He said the “mission right now is secure the historic building for the people of Fort Worth.”

“It is a beautiful street and we feel the development should be a showplace for Fort Worth. And we want to secure the post office building so we can control the future of its existence, the future development and the historic significance,” Jordan said.

The Tarrant Appraisal District valued the land in 2013 at $3.53 million and the building at $2.65 million, for a total of $6.1 million.

Jordan could not disclose the price range for the building.

The building, at 251 W. Lancaster Ave., has been considered as a new city hall since 2004, with the city spending $200,000 in 2009 to study the idea and even entering negotiations with the Postal Service.

Sandra Rybicki, a real estate specialist for the Postal Service, briefed the council and residents Dec. 3 on the process for relocating retail services.

In that meeting, Jordan asked Rybicki if the postal service would offer a discount to a government entity if the building is sold.

Rybicki replied that the building would be competitively bid on the open market if sold.

The post office was designed by local architect Wyatt C. Hedrick, who also designed the neighboring passenger terminal and warehouse as well as the Will Rogers Memorial Center and Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Unlike most post offices across the nation, the architecture of the beaux-arts/classical revival building is very detailed. The lobby has six glass writing tables with bronze lion-head supports. Outside, 16 classical limestone columns face Lancaster, and the cornice features lions’ heads encircling the building.

Murals in the building, by Dwight C. Holmes and former Star-Telegram illustrator William H. Baker, depict the history of the post office from an ox-drawn mail wagon all the way to air mail.

Despite its rich history, the building, completed in 1933, has the lowest historic designation the city provides. It is currently designated as delayed demolition, according to the city’s zoning map, which means that if the owner of the building applies for a demolition permit, the city can delay the demolition for only 180 days.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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