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Post Office to sell its downtown Berkeley building

Maybe today's just not your day

Today USPS said it will move out of and sell its building at 2000 Allston Way to save money. Photo: Keoki Seu

Update, 5:00 p.m.: Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates issued a statement at around 4:45 p.m. saying he was “extremely disappointed” with the Post Office’s decision and reminding potential buyers that the building’s historic façade needs to be maintained. See below for his full statement.

Original story: The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will sell its historic downtown Berkeley building at 2000 Allston Way and relocate to another location “as close to the current site as possible.”

The decision comes despite an appeal made last month by the Berkeley City Council that USPS wait a year before making a final decision on the relocation. It also follows in the wake of a community meeting held on Feb. 26 at which many members of the public protested the proposed move.

A group called Save the Berkeley Post Office has been lobbying since the move was first suggested in June of last year to keep the building operating as a post office. USPS said that all the public input it received, along with the relocation proposal, was forwarded to USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C. where the final decision was made.

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A group of protesters outside 2000 Allston Way advocating that the building remain a post office. Photo: Daniel Parks

There is a possibility that postal operations might continue in the Allston Way building. In a release issued this afternoon, USPS said it will present the option to potential buyers that postal retail services are maintained in the lobby of the Renaissance-style building. “An alternative to maintain the retail lobby in its current location for a potential sale/lease back will be included in the marketing strategy,” it said.

A date for the relocation has not been set, USPS said, and added that there will be no change in the downtown post office’s ZIP code, and that the goal is to retain all Post Office box numbers.

The sale is neccessary, USPS said, because of the organization’s challenging financial circumstances.

The statement read: “The Berkeley Post Office relocation and building sale is part of a nationwide response by the Postal Service to generate revenue, reduce costs and operate more efficiently in the face of dramatic decreases in mail volume, congressional mandates and other economic factors that have caused net losses of over $25 billion in the past five years. The Postal Service does not receive tax dollars to fund its operations and facilities.”

Members of the public may appeal this latest decision within 15 days. Letters should be sent to: Vice President, Facilities, Facilities Implementation – Pacific Area, 1300 Evans Ave. Ste. 200, San Francisco CA 94188-0200.

Statement released by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates at 4:43 p.m. today:

Today, we were informed that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is moving forward with the sale of Berkeley’s Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

“Although this isn’t entirely surprising, we are extremely disappointed.” said Mayor Tom Bates.  “The Berkeley Post Office is a magnificent building that is on the National Historic Registrar.  Whoever is thinking about buying this landmark treasure, should know they will be required to keep the exterior and the interior murals of the building and abide  by the City of Berkeley’s local land use laws.”

USPS intends to relocate the services currently conducted at the Main Post Office to a yet-to-be determined location as close to the current site as possible.  USPS stated it will present the option to potential buyers that postal retail services are maintained in the lobby of the current building.

The Berkeley community may appeal this decision within the next 15 days.  The appeal period expires on May 7th.  Letters should be sent to: Vice President, Facilities, Facilities Implementation – Pacific Area, 1300 Evans Ave. Ste. 200, San Francisco CA 94188-0200.

Related:
Council asks for 1-year moratorium on post office sale [03.06.13]
USPS hears vocal opposition to sale of downtown building [02.28.13]
Post Office public hearing to focus on Berkeley sale plan [02.26.13]
Berkeley discusses future of main post office [02.13.12]
Protesters take Save Post Office demo to San Francisco [12.05.12]
Rally held to protest sale of Berkeley’s main post office [11.15.12]
Developer eyes Berkeley’s historic post office [08.01.12]
Chances are slim of stopping sale of Berkeley’s post office [07.23.12]
Postal Service plans sale of Berkeley’s main post office [06.25.12]

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  • Truth Sayer

    Thanks. He is correct. Congress mandate the post office to prefund 75 years of retirement for civil service in 10 years is their way to keep the post office fiscally unstable so they can pull it down further. As no other business is required to do this. I noted that some comments are referring to this as a “conspiracy theory.” Truth be told, this reminds me of the line in a movie “the greatest trick the devil ever played is to convince people that he did not exist.”. Sadly, the selling off of postal property for much less than its value is continuing and America is still being tricked by politicians.

  • Aaron

    Berkeley, with its university and upscale population is probably one of
    the most wired communities in the Bay Area where most people use the
    internet or campus mail services to send and receive mail. Such a large
    post office was necessary when most people in the university community
    needed to buy stamps and pickup/send packages since federal express
    didn’t exist and ups was a busines to business company only delivering
    packages, not the retail company they are today that delivers overnight
    documents.

  • Jim Novosel

    While the facade of the Post Office is landmarked and can be protected with our Landmark Ordinance, the interior is not. I suggest that the interior be likewise landmarked by the Landmark Preservation Commission. There is only one other building which has an interior feature landmarked and that is old City Hall whose beautiful curved staircase is landmarked. I hope that preservationists rise to the occasion and get the Post Office’s interior lobby placed under the protections offered by an historical designation. Jim Novosel

  • Charles_Siegel

    I agree. Thanks for suggesting that.

  • Charles_Siegel

    The current building is used for both retail and for mail processing. The post office has said that it plans to keep a retail location in downtown Berkeley and that it is open either to leasing the lobby of this post office building or renting space elsewhere for that retail space.

    They think the current lobby is appropriate for retail postal service in downtown Berkeley.

  • 1234heythere5

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDJNamOGSes

    And the PMG said the Post Office should be privatized

  • Truth Sayer

    The principal point behind privatization is that unlike today’s Postal Service, cost to customers, will now float based upon actual delivery cost. Unbeknown to those customers living in rural, country, and mountainous areas, their cost will go up tremendously, as cities and towns have been subsidizing the cost of deliver for them since the conception of the Post Office Department in July 26, 1775, headed by Ben Franklin. Ironically, Republicans in rural and country red states have been pushing for privatization. Their constituents will then have to pay more for postage, as the one charge for all customers will no longer exist.

  • Truth Sayer

    Please be advised that the interior Murals in post offices painted with funds from the New Deal, via Treasury Department are historic and can not be removed. Also, much of old post office interior should be included.

  • Tizzielish

    I like the idea of a hotel, with some of the current lobby devoted to a hotel lobby and some of it a public bar so the suckers, er, taxpayers that built it could still go in once in awhile and look at what the public built.

  • Tizzielish

    So what, Brad. Selling historic, publicly-funded assets are not going to improve the wellbeing of USPS employees or their hungry kids.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I notice that several commenters say that this post office is no longer needed because the USPS is losing business to the internet. It is definitely true that they are losing business and that they will close post offices across the country, but they have said that they want to keep a retail operation in downtown Berkeley.

    The USPS has also said that their preferred option for the operation in downtown Berkeley is to sell this building and lease back the lobby, so they can continue to use the lobby as the downtown post office, as they always have.

    So, despite the inevitable decline of mail because of the internet, this can continue to be the downtown Berkeley post office – IF the USPS can find a buyer who is willing to lease the lobby back to them.

  • selahdave

    Is anyone concerned that the real estate agent will be Senator Feinstein’s husband???