Today’s news:

Post office landmark could be up for sale

Bronx Times

The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service may sell its iconic Bronx General Post Office.

USPS officials are in the early stages of reviewing the possible sale of its massive facility at the northeast corner of the Grand Concourse and 149th St. to ease the federal agency’s finances.

And while the major mail processing operation there would relocate to a new building, officials said the retail stamp and mailing operation would be moved “into smaller leased space” that would require about 7,300 net-square-feet of space to provide service to customers in the 10451 ZIP code area.

But the deal for purchase of the large facility depends on the buyer, said postal service spokeswoman Connie Chiricello.

She said any move would not affect the jobs of over 200 postal employees, who would be relocated.

News of a possible closure did not sit well with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who learned about the proposal in a letter dated December 31.

The letter outlined efforts by the USPS to scale back “underutilized facilities.”

“The decision to close this historic facility is unacceptable,” said BP spokesman John DeSio. “We question the United States Postal Service’s methodology in selecting this site for sale.”

Community Board 4 is also worried over the closure, particularly for neighborhood seniors who rely on the building for stamps and post office boxes.

“They have to walk to 161st Street and Gerard Avenue,” said District Manager Jose Rodriguez, upset that USPS would even consider the idea.

“We have more housing development than in twenty, thirty, forty years,” he said. “You’re telling me people are not going to use mail?”

So far there have been no takers reported for the 1.5- acre two-story gray brick facility with colossal windows at 558 Grand Concourse, covering the entire block from E. 149th to E. 150th Streets.

Designed by Thomas Harlan Ellett, it was built in the 1930s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the exterior cannot be architecturally changed.

But inside there is no protection for thirteen Walt Whitman-inspired mural panels by painter Ben Shahn.

The postal facility also shares a bit of urban trivia, with Son of Sam serial killer David Berkowitz having worked there in the mail processing operation.

These days the agency, working without federal dollars, has seen a major drop in business for the past several years thanks to the Internet and other private processing centers.

An obligation to push profits into its pension program has also put the agency in the red.

Their financial worries forced the closure of two Bronx post offices last year.

But Congressman Jose Serrano said the problem to fix to service starts at the “national level.”

A bill to bail out the agency was scrapped last year in Congress.

Neighbors will have a chance to sound off over the proposal at a Feb. 6 hearing at 10:30 a.m. at the post office.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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