On Wednesday, the United States Postal Service held a meeting to gather input from the community on where the post office, currently located in White Flint Mall, will be. USPS currently has a lease with the mall, which ends on May 31, 2014. USPS was under the impression that Lerner, who owns White Flint Mall, would be happier if USPS vacated the mall sooner. However, Francine Waters of Lerner Enterprises clarified that the company was very interested in keeping USPS as a tenant; though not in their current location.
Richard Hancock, a USPS Real Estate Specialist, lead the meeting. He explained that even though he now understood that Lerner was happy to negotiate with USPS, the Postal Service is still required to have an open competitive process, and community outreach is a part of that process.
The public outreach process is begins with a 30 day period, to begin after the meeting to request comments (Wednesday’s meeting) from the community. USPS will then present a list of sites being considered, and hold another 30 day comment period. After the second 30 day comment period, a USPS site review committee will meet and choose a site. The public will then have another 30 day “appeal” comment period. Only after the third and final comment period can USPS have a lease – no commitments can be made until after final notification.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Service Center Director Ken Hartman asked if USPS was looking to keep its Kensington address. Hancock clarified that USPS wants to stay as close to where they are now as possible, with economic and operational viability as key factors. The zip code of the post office may change. In response to a concern raised about service stopping, Hancock said that would only happen in the event of an emergency.
While USPS wants the store to be convenient, there are usually no parking/building specifications for pre-existing spaces; USPS will look at the pros and cons of each site, and parking is just one consideration. There will be no changes to deliver patterns; this is a cut and dry retail operation, though trucks will need to have access. Hancock said he had no control over the hours of the store, explaining that the hours of stores in leased spaces often depends on the hours of the building. However, if you have preferences as to the hours – or any other aspect of the post office – Hancock instructed the group to write to him and he will forward the information to the proper people (see instructions below).
The lease will be a 5 year lease with a 5 year renewal option, which is standard when USPS rents a pre-existing space. The retail post office will be about 1200 square feet with 2 counters – a point Hancock made several times, noting that 2 counters was unusual for a small space. Many people present at the meeting urged Hancock to take into consideration the many new residents slated to move to the area; he replied that USPS planners project out 10 years to account for such increases. Hancock implied that USPS was previously unaware of the sector plan, but said that learning about these things is part of the outreach process.
Comments must be sent directly to Richard Hancock in writing. He suggested that location recommendations be targeted and specific. We urge you to email
And/or write to:
PO Box 27497
Greensboro NC 27498-1103
Your voice counts! And, to make sure it counts, be sure you get your comments in before August 9!
We will keep you informed as this process moves forward.