Fayetteville Street Post Office Closing, Lost Service or New Opportunity?

The post office on Fayetteville Street will close this July according to the N&O.

Citing drastic declines in mail volume, the U.S. Postal Service will close its downtown post office in July, shuttering an institution that has stood on Fayetteville Street for 134 years.
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There was no word about a possible future use for the ground floor space that will be vacated. Post office officials did not return calls seeking comment, but a note taped to a mail slot attributed the closing to recession-related declines and changing consumer habits.

No one should be surprised by this news as multiple offices have been closing around Raleigh and around the country. The U.S. Postal Service can’t seem to cover their costs so it is only natural that closings like this are occurring. The state of the current economy also doesn’t help things out.

I actually first heard about this news on Twitter. The tweets I read were from people asking others to support the office and demand that it be left open. I do understand that the service is still needed, even relied upon by some but I can’t seem to get behind the idea of keeping the downtown office open.

Am I against the mail service? Not at all. I feel that this service should continue to exist for all citizens but in today’s shift from paper to internet, the service should transform with the times in an appropriate way. This shift is not what this post is about so I’ll stop with that statement in order to stay on topic.

Anyway, the historic, beautiful building on the corner of Martin and Fayetteville Street will have some open space soon and I believe this creates an opportunity for something new. My first idea that I have had for a little while (PROOF!) is for the Century Post Office to be repurposed into a library. Maybe not right away, or perhaps not the first use of the new space but with a growing downtown this would be a perfect opportunity to have a downtown library in a landmark building with a prime address.

The federal government’s current cutting of excess properties makes this an interesting opportunity for, perhaps, Wake County to make a play at moving into the building.

Downtown probably still has a long way to go before the downtown express library is upgraded but you never know.

The postal service may be moving out but the building will still stand and can serve citizens in a new way in the future.

12 Comments

  1. Ironically there used to be a downtown library. I don’t remember exactly when it closed… 1990 or thereabouts?

    I don’t believe the federal courts on the upper floors are moving out (or currently have anywhere to go), so in all likelihood the question of reusing the USPS space on the ground floor will rest with the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration.

  2. I’m not an architecture buff but I’ve always really liked this building. A library would be awesome.

  3. I agree that the USPS, while still of a certain importance, should drastically cut back its expenses so as to not be a further burden to taxpayers (perhaps by gradually cutting back on the number of delivery days – eventually by half). A way I would offer to support this (or any) local post office, is by mailing back prepaid business reply mail – junk mail. I can’t stand junk mail for many reasons. Every week I gather all the prepaid envelopes marketing credit cards and insurance, and I stuff them with as much paper and any other heavy, waste material that I can find lying around. Then mail them back. The post office makes money and the businesses pay twice for their wasteful, annoying junk mail. If a lot of people took to this practice, that could mean some real cash for the post office (and expense for the junk mail offenders).

  4. John Morris of the blog Goodnight, Raleigh! put up a new post today suggesting an effort be made to save it. He has some nice then and now pictures.

  5. Interesting suggestion. However, I would like to point out how EXTREMELY expensive it is to renovate a space for the purpose of creating a full-service library. Even something as seemingly simple as shelving can run into the tens of thousands of dollars; the book return alone can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 (Demco and Gaylord are two popular library supply vendors–a brief perusal of their catalogs will give you an idea of what I’m talking about). Then add to that all requisite mill work, paint, carpet/flooring, wiring, code compliance issues, computers (staff, catalog, and public pcs), library employees/salaries, new books….

  6. Well folks, for one, downtown still does have a library…it’s just a small “mini-branch” on the bottom of the Wake County building on Fayetteville Street. It’s little and has short hours, but could use all the community support it can get….so spread the word. If it got used more and was supported by the community the county may someday decide to expand to something better.

    As for the old post office. The federal government, I believe, still will be using the upper floors for bankruptcy court offices. The big gap will be in deciding on what fills the bottom floor. Alas, being the federal government, they’ll probably not put anything very inventive there. Just expand offices or whatnot.

  7. LB – I’ve heard of people mailing back those prepaid envelopes empty. I think I’ll start doing that. BTW, the Postal Service hasn’t used taxpayer money since the 70’s, I believe. They have had to borrow from the Treasury in recent years due to the internet and a law passed in 2006 that requires them to prefund retiree health benefits to the tune of $5.5 billion annually.

    The Century Post Office building would make a wonderful library. It would be nice if the County could buy the building with a lease agreement for the upper floor to continue housing the bankruptcy court. Such a beautiful building ought to be put to good use.

  8. Maybe they can lease the space to UPS, Fedex, etc., since the current layout would serve those businesses just fine, without many adjustments. At least we still have the Post Office on New Bern Ave.

  9. Sluv – join the cause!

    …and do you think a “loan” from the Fed (who like all federal organizations, gets its funding directly or indirectly from individual taxpayers) is going to be paid back without an increase in taxes or cut in benefits elsewhere?

  10. why don’t they close the new bern ave one then? crappy part of town with long lines, or downtown in a historic building…yeah great choice USPS.

  11. New Bern Ave is much easier to get in and out of, except for pedestrians, and it has parking.

    Real question is how much $$ does the GSA charge USPS for the floor space at Century Station, compared to what USPS pays for the floor space at New Bern Ave.

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