Downtown post office closes, prepares to move
Austin’s downtown post office locked up shop for the last time Thursday night at its West Sixth and Guadalupe Street location.
The office is moving to a smaller spot at 823 Congress Ave. and should be open by Wednesday, Postal Service spokesman Sam Bolen said. In the intervening few days there will be no downtown office or post office boxes, though Bolen said the agency is working with downtown businesses and other customers to ensure important mail gets to the proper place. (Customers wishing to make such an arrangement can call 342-1576.)
The downtown location serves many of the banks, lawyers and other businesses, as well as a growing downtown population. It is being closed primarily for real-estate considerations.
Developers and city officials have viewed the office as a waste of prime real estate since not long after its 1996 opening, prompting then-Mayor Will Wynn to declare in 2006 that “the staggering underutilization of the land is sinful.”
Atlanta-based Novare Group and its Austin partners, Andrews Urban and Endeavor Real Estate Group, were chosen in 2006 from among six offers to buy and redevelop the post office site. Jamil Alam, Endeavor’s managing principal, said the group has “no plans and no schedule for the post office block at this time,” though condos, office buildings and retail have been mentioned as possibilities.
The Travis Central Appraisal District listed the old post office property as worth $17.1 million, though neither the Postal Service nor the developers have stated the price for which it sold.
The downtown post office had 33 employees in the recent past, but many of them were transferred when the mail carriers delivering to downtown and some support staff were relocated to the agency’s 3909 South Congress station near Ben White Boulevard. Mail delivery services for homes and businesses in downtown’s 78701 ZIP code were also moved to the South Congress location.
Still, “Our customers said they want us to maintain a downtown office, and we decided to do the best we could based on that desire,” Bolen said. “We’re planning to be in the new location at least a few years.”
The new downtown location is smaller than the old one and will have 10 employees. It will issue passports, sell stamps and boxes, ship packages and generally “have traditional window service,” Bolen said.
Mary McElhiney waits as her husband, Mac, locks their post office box for the last time at the Guadalupe station. The McElhineys have had a box there for at least 10 years.