Given the uncertainty around the state of the United States Postal Service, you can pretty much bet that a $3 million acquisition of the building the Broadway post office calls home isn’t about your future mail service and retail needs.
“The two block area is going to change with the light rail station right in front,” said developer Maria Barrientos who is working on a new apartment project on the back of the block along Harvard Ave E. “Just the pressure for density there. I think it’s going to be really exciting.”
The Daily Journal of Commerce broke the news on the acquisition (subscription) last week but details are scant. County records show a $2.95 million price tag and a buyer listed only as 101 Broadway, LLC. Corporate records for the LLC are a dead-end — no officer names are included in the record.
Who the buyer is — and their intent for the property is a mystery. CHS reported in May on ongoing talks between the property’s previous owner and USPS to secure a new lease for the post office. “For many years we’ve been trying to find another location,” a postal official said. “It’s small, old, there’s no customer parking, no employee parking, and we have to rent space offsite to park the trucks. We just haven’t been able to find a replacement. It’s tough to find space in the Broadway area. That’s not to say something might not change, but there are no plans to close or consolidate.”
CHS erroneously reported that the post office’s lease was due to end later this year as we were told by a representative from a community group concerned with the office’s future. Postal officials say the current lease ends in 2015. USPS officials have told CHS the service hopes to keep a retail presence in areas that lose facilities. Though the letter carriers and the vehicle fleet at 23rd and Union are moving, residents could still be able to meet their mail needs either in the current space or a nearby spot, the officials said. Another possibility is the post office being part of any future development.
To develop the property, the acquirer will likely need to also acquire an adjoining parcel. According to county records, the adjoining building to the north of the post office remains in the hands of its long-time owner.
Change on the block is a certainty. The property around the light rail station is about to begin a public development process that will lead to the creation of new housing and retail around the transit facility when it begins service in 2016.
Barrientos, developer of the Chloe and the Packard Building, is working with long-time Capitol Hill land owner Ron Amundsen to develop his Harvard Ave E property into a 39-unit “boutique” apartment building directly behind Dick’s Drive-In.
“Instead of competing with large buildings with smaller units, we’ll have larger units with more space to live,” Barrientos said. “It will be a building for people who live on Capitol Hill but need a little more room but don’t want to move away,” she said. The six-story project will also likely take advantage of the city’s affordable housing incentives allowing a ten-foot height bonus in the mid-rise zone.
Barrientos said Amundsen also owns the old Hollywood Video building on the block, empty since the chain moved out suddenly in 2009, and is weighing an overhaul of the old masonry building versus a new development.
Meanwhile, what the future holds for Dick’s in the middle of all of this is also up in the six to seven-story air. Its parcel is in the hands of another long-time Broadway land owner. CHS, a fan of density done right, looks forward to a Broadway of the future with a 75-foot-tall Dick’s.