USPS sets meeting on downtown Kingsport facility

Matthew Lane • Jul 16, 2012 at 9:23 AM

KINGSPORT — The U.S. Postal Service plans to hold a public meeting Thursday afternoon to address questions and concerns about the anticipated relocation of the downtown post office.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the downtown post office, located at 320 W. Center St. in Kingsport. USPS officials posted the notice in the lobby of the facility Monday.

According to the notice, the meeting is being held concerning the anticipated relocation of the downtown facility, and USPS representatives will be on hand to give a short presentation on the plans to replace the current facility with an “operationally optimal facility” necessary to ensure the appropriate level of service.

The notice states any comments, questions and suggestions prior to the meeting can be addressed to Dennis Perry, real estate specialist with the USPS, at dperry2@usps.gov or (336) 665-2863.

David Walton, spokesman for the USPS, said the downtown facility has not been sold, nor is there an option on the building.

“Not all buyers would have an interest in keeping USPS retail operations within the building,” Walton said in an e-mail to the Times-News. “Therefore, we have to be prepared to relocate should there be a buyer who wants us to leave. That’s all the community meeting will be about.

The USPS has been looking to sell the 62,000-square-foot downtown post office for months, officially putting it on the market in April and establishing a $1.3 million asking price in May. The move is being done in connection to an overarching downsizing and consolidation strategy by the Postal Service to help save money and stave off bankruptcy.

Kingsport officials have expressed an interest in the facility as a possible expansion site for higher education purposes, tying in with the nearby five-building-strong Academic Village. At a minimum, Kingsport would hope to keep the retail space and post office boxes in the downtown area if the building was ever sold or relocated.

City officials and members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have toured the building at least four times within the past year, including one tour with Northeast State Community College officials. None of the tours was ever announced to the public or the media.

Earlier this year, City Manager John Campbell made a $300,000 offer on the building on behalf of the city, saying the $1.3 million asking price was “way out of line” and the cost to renovate the building into usable space for higher education purposes would be in the $3.5 million to $4 million range.

The USPS rejected the offer, saying the $1.3 million asking price is well within market norms.

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