Despite media coverage (see below) that appears to write a death warrant for the Richmond Main Post Office, this is still very much a work in progress. Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and I are in negotiation with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) at the highest levels to find a solution that will be a win-win for both the USPS and the City of Richmond. Because of a number of regulatory review requirements, including Historic Preservation (NHPA 1016), Environmental Review (NEPA) and Intergovernmental Cooperation (IGN), there can be no sale for at least several months and perhaps as long as several years. The steps the USPS has taken, as alarming as they are, represent the beginning of a process, not the end of it.
Among other things, USPS policy allows for a sale to state and local governments instead of competitive bidding. The USPS is also willing to allow the existing operation to remain at 1025 Nevin Avenue as long as it is economically attractive to the USPS.
Rest assured that we are giving this our highest level of attention, and we are hoping for a successful outcome.
Historic downtown Richmond Post Office to be sold over community opposition
Postal retail services will relocate to a postal delivery unit cut off from downtown Richmond by BART and railroad tracks
The Art Deco-style Richmond Main Post office was built in 1938 under the New Deal. (Tom Lochner)
By Tom Lochner | email@example.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: August 17, 2017 at 11:37 am | UPDATED: August 18, 2017 at 1:18 pm
RICHMOND — The downtown post office will close, the U.S. Postal Service has decided, despite the fervent objections of the mayor, the local county supervisor and U.S. congressman, much of the business community, civic organizations, and many neighborhood residents.
The news came in a letter, stamped Aug. 10 and addressed to Mayor Tom Butt, posted on the glass front entrance door of the historic post office building, at 1025 Nevin Ave. near Harbour Way. Postal retail services will be relocated to the McVittie Annex, at 2100 Chanslor Ave., a measure that will bring not only “operational savings” but also provide additional parking for customers, the letter said.
A letter posted on the front entrance of the downtown Richmond post office informs postal customers of the facility’s planned closure. (Tom Lochner)
The decision follows a May 31 community meeting with postal officials at City Hall, and a June 15 town hall meeting at the Nevin Community Center at which community members warned, apparently to no avail, that closing the downtown post office would deliver a blow to the city’s neediest people as well as to a surrounding business district on the brink of a boom.
A public comment period ended June 30.
“Considering all of the factors concerning the relocation, including those presented by the community during the comment period, the Postal Service has been determined that it is in its best interest to proceed with the relocation,” the letter, signed by Tom Samra, an official at the postal service’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, reads in part.
“This is the final decision of the Postal Service with respect to this matter, and there is no right to further administrative or judicial review of this decision,” Samra added.
The move will “marginalize certain groups, especially seniors, and people with disabilities, and those who don’t have cars and depend on public transportation,” said Amanda Elliott, executive director of Richmond Main Street Initiative, Inc., which describes itself on its website as “a community-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to revitalizing historic Downtown Richmond as a pedestrian-friendly urban village.” The organization’s office is on Harbour Way, around the corner from the post office.
“We’re outraged. We’re really, really disappointed and unhappy,” Elliott said. “We think that it’s going to be detrimental to the community as a whole, especially the business district, which we are promoting and working to revitalize.”
The McVittie Annex, at 2100 Chanslor Ave., is slated to become Richmond’s main retail outlet for postal services, replacing the closure-bound downtown main post office (Tom Lochner)
Elliott said she suspects the move was already a done deal before the May and June meetings, and that the postal service merely went through the motions of listening to the community’s concerns.
Those included, as expressed at the June town hall meeting, that the McVittie site, flanked by two dead-end streets, is not conveniently served by mass transit and additionally is cut off from downtown Richmond by the BART and Union Pacific railroad tracks.
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and Mayor Tom Butt weighed in at that meeting with written statements, while Councilman Eduardo Martinez commented in person, all in opposition to the proposed move.
Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz on Thursday said the agency has been transparent, citing the May 31 public meeting, and that as for the notion that postal officials had already made up their minds about the closing, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“People are emotional when it comes to their post office,” Ruiz said, noting that the U.S. Postal Service has been around for 242 years, longer than the nation itself. “The identity of.each community is centered around that post office. People take it (a closing) very personally.”
Richmond’s Art Deco-style downtown post office was built in 1938 under the New Deal.
No closing date has been set yet, nor has a date for putting the building up for sale, Ruiz said.
Notice posted this week at the downtown Richmond post office announcing that the location will be closed. (Tom Tom Lochner/Staff