Palo Alto interested in buying downtown post office | February 24, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 24, 2012

Palo Alto interested in buying downtown post office

City to appraise downtown site, consider possible uses for historic building

by Gennady Sheyner

As the U.S. Postal Service prepares to place Palo Alto's historic post office on the market, local officials are trying to make sure the city remains near the top of the cash-strapped agency's list of potential buyers.

This story contains 916 words.

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Posted by Kabuki-In-Palo-Alto, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 7:41 am

> "I think this is a great opportunity for us to be creative,"
> Price said. "This is a key facility and location -- a
> very important site within the City of Palo Alto.

Gee .. insight that we could only get from a City Council Member.

Wouldn't it be refreshing for a change for those folks who claim to be our political "betters" to have some suggestions for this building's use, should it fall in the City's hands? Otherwise, these proceedings are little more than low-value theater.

It also would be interesting to see what justification the City would have if it wanted to purchase this building, and build a new police station too.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

This article poses many more questions than answers.

Does the city have the money to buy the premises? Where would it get such money? What use would the building have? What changes would need to be made to the building for this change of use? Would the public still have access to the building or would it be used solely for those who worked there?

Why can't the USPS keep the building and rent out the space they don't need to coffee and retail space? It would be a lovely place to sit and have lunch, morning or afternoon coffee, as part of a trip to the Post Office or a neighboring venue. In fact, downtown is one place where a Subway or deli would be welcome!

Posted by Dave, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

Is this a future police and fire admin building site?

Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2012 at 9:08 am

When this story first broke, I said it would become "Roth Building II".

Once again, Palo Alto meets my expectations.

Posted by Retired Staffer, a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

An opportunity to expand the tax base will be thrown out the window.

Posted by Gethin, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

Unless the city has a valid use for the property I see no point in them wasting any money - our money - on it. I agree we should keep it due to its historic merit but we should focus on bringing business to it and therefore tax. The city just conjuring up a use wastes money and tax potential.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:59 am

Come on … the pirates of this country are looking to break up and sell the postal service to private interests that now have all the rest of our money and will use these resources to further invest overseas and impoverish this country.

Selling off nice expensive resources at giveaway prices because of false economic crises is par for the new American course.

Then .. we will also get hit with the cost of renting or buying a new building at inflated prices … remember the old building was built in the 20's … and has long since been paid off. The only cost of that building is maintenaince and heating it, which they do 24 hours with the windows in front always open.

Any new building will not be as functional or as big. At peak times there are lines filling up this building … not to mention how are they going to get a new building with enough space for all the PO boxes.

We have just plain mass insanity in our government as they hand out these fictional narratives about why they have to take everything from the American people and destroy the very idea of the public.

Posted by m, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

If it has to be sold (we have no backbone to preserve value as a nation), I hope the city will buy it and try different uses. It would be a great dance hall.

Posted by mark samson, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

One of the nice things about living in Palo Alto is that is still has a few really nice old historic structures, like the buildings at, or around, Stanford University, for example; however, to simply demolish the old Post Office and then use it for a parking lot is simply so shallow minded and short sighted, it's revolting. That old beautiful building is a treasure, and can be useful and lovely in an area, that is changing so fast as to lose forever, some of its (not our) lovely past object that are so different than anything that will replace it: once it is gone, it is gone forever. Can't get it back. To have something like that old but lovely building to preserve and hand down to the next generation of Palo Alto citizens is a treasured gift to the future, instead of blight which will only bring more resentment from those who follow us.

Posted by Judy, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Right now the City is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars renting space on Hamilton Avenue for the Planning Department and Building permits.

They should end their lease arrangement in that location and move the Planning Department, Mapping and Building Permits into the old Post Office.

Posted by JT, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Wasn't the meeting last night (Tuesday, 2/21)? The second paragraph said it occurred on Monday, or did I go to the wrong meeting?

Posted by Carol, a resident of University South
on Feb 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I agree with Anon who warned that "...Selling off nice expensive resources at giveaway prices because of false economic crises is par for the new American course. Then .. we will also get hit with the cost of renting or buying a new building at inflated prices … remember the old building was built in the 20's … and has long since been paid off...."

Why can't the USPS keep it, reduce their footprint within the building, and rent out the rest?

Posted by trudy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 3:16 pm

The reason the post office is in financial trouble is the idiotic law that requires it to fund its pensions and health care for decades ahead. How can Palo Alto online be so uninformed?

Posted by Jake, a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm

How about fixing the buildings the City already owns? City infrastructure is in sad state to say the least. The post office is a great building but it needs a ton of work and because of its status the City would face a huge battle if they were going to change or modify it's current looks.
One week the City is saying how broke they are and now they are going to waste more money on a study to possibly purchase this building.

Posted by Lazlo, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Keene and Klein say we have "skyrocketing" and "unsustainable" projected city deficits, so where is this magical money coming from to claim the city will be a major bidder on this property and why are our tax dollars being spent to study possible uses for a building that they have no money to purchase? The city hsn't had a balanced budget in over 15 years and yet they spend money like teenage girls with a credit card.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I think the City should buy the building and turn it into another branch library - we don't have enough branches...

Seriously, it's a beautiful building and I hope it get repurposed in such a way that the public can still enjoy it.

Posted by Steven, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Let's use the money to fix our crumbling streets and messed up bike infrastructure first. We just built a new building downtown to house the library and various community events. I think it would make a great bookshop (remember those), McDonald's or Panda Express tho.

Posted by SaveOurPostOffices, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Corrections: The main reason for First class mail reduction is, as always, the recession. The perceived drop is exacerbated by the fact that 2006 was the highest year ever for USPS, which happens to add service the size of Chicago every year. USPS has survived numerous technical "challenges" over the centuries; the internet is not its enemy, nor its replacement.

We can discuss at another time why they're trying to close 10% of post offices - when they need more facilities to serve new customers and sell new stamps. For now, please note the following:

The postal representative failed to mention that, in 2006, the USPS was handed a unique $5.5 billion annual debt, which is solely responsible for its current fiscal crisis. In truth, restoring last year's debit would create a $220 million surplus - a big number for an agency that is only supposed to break even.

Briefly, new legislation promises to break this death grip, but we have to act fast. And you have to slow them down, because USPS management couldn't care less who buys after they leave. They are leaving and selling as fast as they can.

First, we recommend deluging Ms. Alvarado et al with FOIA requests for their accounting data. Then, prepare to appeal their claim that the change is a "relocation." Then, prepare to appeal the subsequent PRC decision declining jurisdiction because it's not officially a "closure."

Finally, join our current DC District Court action. We understand that our action is the first occasion to hold the PRC accountable for failing to honor its mission to regulate the USPS.

Direct our Senators and your Congressperson to support HR3591 and S1853, which release the USPS from its burdensome and fallacious $5.5 billion obligation. Among other things, this law will restore proper, pre-2006 USPS accountability. Direct them to get Treasury to repay to the USPS its current $6.9 billion overpayment, in addition to the other $50 billion+ that the USPS has overpaid to date.

The USPS has supported itself since 1982 (technically) and 1792 (in fact), entirely through sales of postal products - no subsidies (unlike airlines, auto makers, financial institutions, et al). Depending on whose numbers you read, savings projected by closures and consolidations amount to some .04 to .07 percent of its entire budget. For less than 1% savings, USPS management is removing 10% of their profit centers!

Only if every affected community stands strong can we stop the erosion of the most efficient and least expensive postal system in the world - which is also the most trusted public service in the United States.

Please consider signing our petition (We'll sign yours): Web Link

Consider reading our story - it's like yours (and Ukiah's): Web Link

Consider setting up a Facebook page: Web Link

Please consider reading the main resource site: Web Link

Thank you for your time.

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