3 sites seek stamp of approval for new Westport Post Office
The first finalist is a familiar one -- the office's current home at 154 Post Road East. Under that scenario, however, the Postal Service would sell the 74-year-old building to a developer, opening space for commercial use, and then rent a share of it.
The other options would move the Post Office either to 275 Post Road East -- the end unit in the Playhouse Square Shopping Center, the letter said -- or to 645 Post Road East, the shopping center anchored by Fresh Market.
In making the possible locations public before the current office is sold, the Postal Service is breaking from its norm, said Maureen Marion, a spokesman. Typically, the organization will wait for a developer to buy its present home before narrowing its search for a new one. But interest has been high for the current facility, Marion said, so the Postal Service has opted to both sell and secure a new home simultaneously.
"At this point, I don't know if there's been an offer [on the current building], but there's been a considerable amount of interest," Marion said. "The fact that we're so aggressively looking for alternate quarters really bodes well for the transition."
Marion wouldn't comment any further on a possible sale. She said that First Selectman Gordon Joseloff will be informed when the Postal Service cements a deal.
Joseloff, commenting on the three finalists, said he's "heartened" that the Postal Service is considering staying in its current home. "That would be an ideal solution, especially if the rest of the building could enhance downtown by housing an arts entity, coffee shop, or other use that would generate public interest," he said.
The Postal Service is now looking for public feedback on the three locations. Through the month of June, letters can be mailed to the following address with comments: Vice President, Facilities, U.S. Postal Service, 6 Griffin Road, North, Windsor, CT, 06006-0300.
Asked if the Postal Service has a preference among the three finalists, Marion said no. "We really do look for community input," she said. "For some locations, people may not be happy about the parking. People may not think some locations are close enough to downtown. [That feedback] helps shape how we revisit those properties. We try to go in with a clear head and with clear options all the way through."
The decision will ultimately be based on which location presents the "very best usage of postal resources and which has the best potential to best serve the public," Marion said. She also listed as considerations the historic quality of the buildings and what modifications would need to be made to outfit them as a post office.
One potential upside: depending on what type of establishment moves into the current Post Office space, the building might return to the town's tax base. The Postal Service currently does not pay property taxes to the town.
But Town Assessor Paul Friia said that the building -- based on the current mill rate and the building's assessment -- would likely bring in around $38,000 in taxes.