United States Postal Service weighing two options for new Central District post office

At a meeting Thursday at the Garfield Community Center, a United States Postal Service representative, flanked by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, laid out two likely Central District options for permanently replacing the former location on 23rd Ave vacated as a major housing and retail development moves in.

“We know that post offices are a vital part of any healthy community,” Sawant said before quickly pivoting to the issue of high rents and displacement. Her staffers were handing out packets on her rent control proposal prior to the meeting.

Sawant’s involvement in pushing for a new post office in her district comes at a time when she faces an election contest amid criticism that she pays more attention to issues outside of District 3 than those inside it. Sawant was the only candidate in the large field to make an appearance at the meeting, but she left early to attend another event.

The location favored by USPS real estate specialist Greg Shelton was 1138 34th Avenue, further to the east of the old post office location. It would not have a parking lot, only street parking, a major topic of concern among the raucous crowd on hand Thursday.

Shelton said he would look into getting street parking spots earmarked for post office patrons. This space is also easier for post office transportation given that it is a less-trafficked area.

The earliest this space could be a permanent post office would be nine months from now, leaving customers with only the post office at 212 Broadway E to provide retail services in the meantime. This is the earliest any location could get permanently up and running, according to Shelton.

The nearest permanent post office is at 409 Maynard Ave S in the Chinatown/International District.

Early in the meeting, one woman inquired why USPS wasn’t setting the groundwork for a new location since the Midtown Center’s arrival has been known for some time.

“Why was there not planning ahead to have a station available?” she asked. “Why do we have to wait another year? This is ridiculous.”

Shelton said that his hands were tied and there wasn’t much he could do.

Another possible location would be The Central building at 2203-2207 E Union St, which was developed by Lake Union Partners, the same firm working on the Midtown: Public Square development getting ready to break ground at the site of the former post office.

The benefit of The Central would be its proximity to the large-scale development incoming in the next couple years that will include hundreds of affordable housing units. However, parking is scarce, much like the 34th Ave possibility.

This location could also be up and running in 9 months, according to Shelton. The crowd was split just about evenly between 2203-2207 E Union St and 1138 34th Ave in an informal poll. The Garfield Community Center where the meeting took place was also floated as a possibility, but it is currently unclear if that is possible.

None of the community members in attendance were interested in the option of moving back into the Midtown Center project in about three years after its finished. They wanted immediate options for mail.

The crowd implored USPS and Seattle Postmaster Trent McNeal to at least provide drive-up boxes for letters and small mail items while the community waits for a more permanent post office. With Seattle’s narrow streets, however, even this could be difficult.

The community members in attendance Thursday evening seemed to be in agreement that the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market on Martin Luther King Jr. Way would be a good option for a drive-up box. Meanwhile, McNeal noted that he could possibly get a walk-up mailbox up in the community in the next week and he would look into bringing a mobile trailer for similar purposes.

Two other locations were knocked down by Shelton, the real estate specialist, as implausible due to how far they were far from the heart of the Central District: 1525 11th Ave and 1801 S Jackson St.

Over the next 30 days, the USPS will be open to written comments from community members. Those comments should be sent to Shelton at:

U.S. Postal Service
Attn: Greg Shelton-East Union
200 E Kentucky Ave
Denver CO 80209-9950

Comments can also be emailed.

UPDATE 5/7/2019: USPS is asking for comments to be sent by snail mail only:

All letters sent to the address in the handout will be considered. I want to make sure that we get all comments. Some of my colleagues have been getting emails and if they don’t forward them to me I will never know, thus the reason for letters. I have attached the handout as well. NO Emails please. With the increased security protocols in email we may have some emails getting stuck in SPAM and I want to make sure all voices are heard. In additional, there are two Greg’s in our system and if you leave off the 2 it will go to him and I may never get the emails. The best and guaranteed thing to do is send by mail. Please have them mail it to me. DO NOT send or email to Ernie.

After the 30 days is up, the final decision will be made on a new post office location, according to Shelton.

In the meantime, KeAnna Pickett, co-owner of the Central District’s The Postman, noted that her business can also provide mail services.

“There are other options right now,” Pickett said, mentioning that her store has temporary parking and could be expanding shortly to two more locations, one on Jackson and another on the west side of 23rd to serve Squire Park customers.

 

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38 thoughts on “United States Postal Service weighing two options for new Central District post office

  1. Folks, 34th and Union is an idiotic idea. There’s no street parking there NOW. Clueless patrons of Molly Moon’s from outside the immediate hood already double-park on 34th (no, your flashing lights do not make that o.k.), creating traffc and pedestrian troubles. The new Post Office NEEDS A DEDICATED PARKINGLOT. I carry large packages into the p.o.– don’t make me and others walk three blocks with them.

  2. Think a drop-off box at the Grocery Outlet is a great immediate, interim solution. A box at the Garfield Community Center wouldn’t be a bad location either.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing the post office temporarily move to 22nd or 34th with a few street parking spots reserved for the PO *if* they move into the Midtown Center once it’s completed and have some spots in the underground garage parking set aside for it.

  3. Most of the folks in the crowd yelling about drive up parking are frankly older and living in decades past. I know its hard to accept but things change, and many folks have a hard time adapting. I get it. However, drive up mail drop off and lot parking are unfortunately not realistic any longer given the growth in the City. Many of the folks in the room want it both ways. They are demanding an urban walk in store and a drive up mail drop with ample parking. Some of the folks were yelling at poor Greg Shelton from the Post Office which looked and sounded ridiculous. I really wish people would stop being so angry about everything that doesn’t go their selfish way.

    • Here here.

      I am so–and I mean SO–tired of the Olds constantly making the refrain of “but there won’t be enough parking!”

      This is not a realistic way of looking at development in 2019.

      I mean, I get it: you’re an old fogie who lives in the past and wants things to be exactly the way that they were in the past, which is to say car-centric.

      Sorry. Times have changed and it’s time that you join the rest of us in the 21st century.

      It’s time that the voices of these old, out of touch members of our community are ignored.

      • Sheesh…. While I personally am OK with walking and healthy enough to do it, even carrying something, I am not so young and naive that I think I might not be there someday…. Just remember that in 40 years or so you’ll be the one who’s being told you should move away because you can no longer navigate your own neighborhood. Expect about as much compassion as you are showing. And, no… it’s not just about a post office with parking or not… I’ve seen *a lot* of rhetoric here bashing old people – even as extreme as the sentiment that granny doesn’t deserve to stay in her home, she’s just taking up a lot of space that could be redeveloped (yes seriously). I hope I live to 110 so that I can watch today’s kids change their tune when they realize that they won’t be young forever.

      • The problem is that the preferences of the Olds are taken too much into account.

        I mean…their preferences invariably center around “everything needs to stay exactly the same, because that’s how I like it.”

        And that is not helpful in 2019.

        Oh, and Granny SHOULD be forced out of her single family if it improves the neighborhood and increases density.

        And post offices are going the way of the dinosaur…I mean, what POSSIBLE reason could these old fogies have for needing to go to the post office so often?

        I can tell you the answer: they have none. There is no legitimate reason to be at the post office as much as they are implying. And there is NO NEED for a post office at 23rd And Union.

        None.

      • Aaaaaand this is why an old liberal like me is considered conservative by some around here…. because I don’t think rousting old folks out of *their homes* is an awesome idea….. the world is upside down these days.

      • You SERIOUSLY think that a senior should be “forced out of her home”? What if it was YOUR grandmother?

        Your obnoxious comments are prime examples of ageism. Shame on you.

    • There was a man in a wheel chair. I’m thinking you were not at the meeting and are just a troll. Whomever is admining this should remove your comments.

  4. Meanwhile The Postman shop on MLK at Union takes regular USPS mail as well as packages, UPS, Fedex, etc. They have been much nicer to deal with than the experience of the old PO. Plus it is a family run business who live 5 blocks up the street.

  5. USPS service include registered mail, money orders and more affordable shipping and mailing options than do private services. The private services sometimes offer convenience and the more expensive UPS, Fedex etc services and are a welcome amenity and do not replace USPS.
    Gregory Shelton the USPS real estate representative initially expressed a preference for a location outside to the preferred area. I expressed that consideration consider also where the location would served the greatest number of people easily and perhaps seemed moved to change his preference following the meeting last night.

    The more I reflected on the meeting, I was surprised that he would prefer a 34th and E. Union location would be preferable to the 2203 E. Union location, when 23rd and E. Union is much nearer the previous location and within the preferred area marked in red, while the 34th and E.Union location is not within that area. 23rd and E. Union has historically been much more of a hub for the Central Area, than 34th and E. Union. 34th and E. Union is a nice enough Madrona neighborhood business area. I do occasionally patronize Madonna restaurants or coffee shops. But really 23rd and E. Union is where the density is for services. Two new apartment buildings have recently opened at 23rd and E. Union, and two at 24th and E. Union. That is a total of 4 already in place with more mixed use planned at Midtown. When Shelton first proposed 34th Avenue, I was thinking, it would be a place with a parking lot or something and felt open to the idea. However, when I realized it was a storefront with on-street parking, I was flabbergasted.

    Either location would require some parking be set aside for USPS customers and USPS trucks. Very frequent buses 2 and 48 directly serve 23rd and E. Union with the less frequent 3 serving 23rd and Cherry, about 1 and 1/2 blocks to two blocks to the south. While only the 2 bus and the less frequent 3 serve 34th and E. Union. Some bus 3s turn around at 21st and Jefferson and do not continue to Madrona (34th and E. Union), simply due to the fact that the demand is not there. Bus 2 and 48 are both very frequent and heavily used routes. 23rd is a main street and the truck route in the area, and E. Union is a main arterial, making the 23rd and E. Union with the 3 new apartment building in place along with other coming to the midtown block a heavy demand area for services. Yes, 23rd and E. Union has been undergoing radical change and gentrification, but that should not mean we lose services. In fact, I believe that those changes only increase the need for USPS services.

    I certainly hope that USPS is talking to Lake Union Partners, owners of the 2203 property, to determine how trucks deliver to their current businesses and could deliver to the 23rd and E. Union location and possible parking accommodations. Certainly with the grocery store and planned drug store in the area there must be truck parking.

    Some also spoke about bus 8, which runs on MLK about 5 blocks east of 23rd and 6 blocks west of 34th. It is in a bit of valley so walking up hill would be required in either direction with the hill to 34th being steeper than the one to 23rd. I would anticipate that bus 8 would not be too much of a factor. And still the most densely populated area is to the west.

    Another factor to keep in mind is that the new mixed-use building, The Central at 23rd and E. Union, will not be redeveloped in any foreseeable future and will easily accomodate a long term lease. Other locations could be lost to redevelopment.. I am not sure how USPS is expecting to handle the exception needed to go outside of the preferred area, when there is an equally ideal location within the preferred area.

    I could not tell if Shelton was proposing a letter writing contest between the two locations during the next 30 days?

    • Why is this such a big deal?

      Who on earth goes to the post office enough to justify a long term presence at 23rd & Union?

      Also, dedicated parking? Really?

      Yeah. I don’t think so.

      For one: we need less car-centric development rather than more. And if this means that you cannot find a parking spot, Joanna, well guess what?

      That’s right, NO ONE CARES!

      Second, who cares if there is a post office there? Who needs to go to a post office this often?

      Old people I guess? But then again the preferences of the old need to be considered much less than they are today…and a GREAT place to start is to recognize that it doesn’t matter at all if there is a post office in this area.

      We can live with out it.

      • I’m with you. I mean if they are just going to drive anyway what does it matter where the heck it is? Seems they’ll drive to wherever they can park their Buick.

      • So true, OF.

        If Joanna feels the need to go to the post office 365,000 times a week.

        And for what reason I have absolutely no idea…because there is none.

        Then, why not make Joanna drive to Shoreline, or Tacoma, or Olympia….or really anywhere.

        To be quite frank, I don’t care how far she needs to drive to get to the post office for whatever reason she needs to be there ALL THE TIME APPARENTLY.

        It really, really is time that the preferences of the Joanna’s of Seattle are completely ignored.

      • Such a serious lack of empathy it PD’s posts! It frightens me. Like this one:

        “Oh, and Granny SHOULD be forced out of her single family if it improves the neighborhood and increases density.”

        Really? I can make better use of where you live so that justifies me kicking you out of your home?

        Disgusting.

        “Second, who cares if there is a post office there? Who needs to go to a post office this often?”

        Sounds like you don’t go, but why dump on the people who do? Sounds like it all revolves around you; “I don’t need to go to the PO, so why should other people?”

        There could be lots of reasons. I feel sorry for the people who lost the post office in their area. I’d have a hard time if that happened where I live. I go to the PO at least once a week. One, to mail my bills. You can’t leave outgoing mail in our building’s box because it gets broken into. There used to be an official mailbox on the corner, but they took those away. So, to the post office it is. I’m also an active online seller and have to visit to mail packages. A neighbor of mine makes his living solely thru online sales, he’s at the PO 2 or 3 times a week.

        “But then again the preferences of the old need to be considered much less than they are today…”

        This almost makes me wish I knew you; would love to watch you get old and then have your statements disregarded because of your age…boy, that’s going to be one heck of a bitter pill to swallow for you.

        “…and a GREAT place to start is to recognize that it doesn’t matter at all if there is a post office in this area. We can live with out it.”

        How do you know? Such arrogance. You have no idea why people need to go to the PO so much. There’s well over 100 PO boxes at my local PO, for ex, that’s multiple visits a week. (PO boxes/private mail boxes have become more necessary since mail is stolen so much from around here).

        If the PO is “going the way of the dinosaur” why are there always such lines there? If you get out in under 15 mins., you’re lucky.

        Yes, those private mailbox places are useful (I have a box at one), but their services for stamps and such are more expensive than the PO. That’s why we need a PO.

        I don’t see the issue w/having a few dedicated parking spaces. Can help if you have a lot of items. There are a lot of arts organizations, those do mass mailings, that’s a lot of mail to lug around.

        Just don’t see why you can’t be nicer about it. Disagree, but why be so ugly about it?

    • I wouldn’t dismiss the importance of the 8. Remember 98122 goes west of Broadway. If you live there and need to pick up a package, having direct transit service is valuable. Of course, the better solution would be to make that area 98102 so they could just go to the Broadway post office to pick things up.

      • Last night he said the service area is not necessarily by zip code. I would guess that 98122 is largely served by the Central Area service area (some small area of that portion may land in another),and that 98102 almost exclusively by the Broadway USPS and that the 98112 zip code is split by the two service areas with some in the Broadway one and some in the Central Area service district. All the buses run through several zip codes.

  6. I have to say that I am not hiding behind initials and titles and most can easily know who I am. Mass transit and walking are my main modes of transportation and have been for decades. My mention of a few parking spots had more to do with some of the businesses that may have large mailings and for those who live a further distance and may be in autos and want a quick stop at a USPS, along with acknowledgement that there are those for whom walking may either be permanently or temporarily difficult. The past USPS facility was one of heaviest used ones in the area and is a necessary service. Did I personally say I needed every day. No, I didn’t. I was advocating it to be placed in the area where is will be well used and accessible to the greatest number of people, that is in an area where it will be most successful.

  7. I live 3 blocks from the old Midtown location and for the past 20 years I’ve done everything in my power to avoid the post office that was previously there. It seems impossible for the postal service to find reliably courteous staff for the counter positions. I order my stamps online and have been bringing packages to The Postman since it opened which is so much more pleasant. I bear no grudge against the US Postal service but have wondered why this particular location has had such staffing problems for quite some time.

    • By “old Midtown location” do you mean the 23rd and Union location? I disagree, there were certain employees who tried to help customers and I would specifically cite “Mark” (on his uniform) among others who tried to speed things up.

  8. Ut oh, PD sounds cranky and ready for a nap time… Maybe dreaming about collecting all the infinity stones so he can snap away cars and elderly people will put him in a better mood.

  9. I vote for 23rd and Union. If we’re going to focus development density to limited areas, than we should prioritize services to these areas. In my mind, it’s simple – 23rd and Union has accommodated density, it deserves to get the service. (And nothing against the Postman- it’s a great spot too)

  10. Once again, Sawant pushes into an event for purely political purposes. She has shown absolutely no interest in D3 issues until recently. Why now? Duh!….it’s an election year.

    • “….but she left early to attend another event.”

      But did she at least have plenty of those flyers about The Cause© with her name on them to pass out first, before she left?

  11. All letters sent to the address in the handout will be considered. I want to make sure that we get all comments. Some of my colleagues have been getting emails and if they don’t forward them to me I will never know, thus the reason for letters. I have attached the handout as well.

    NO Emails please. With the increased security protocols in email we may have some emails getting stuck in SPAM and I want to make sure all voices are heard. In additional, there are two Greg’s in our system and if you leave off the 2 it will go to him and I may never get the emails. The best and guaranteed thing to do is send by mail. Please have them mail it to me. DO NOT send or email to Ernie.

    How do I provide input? All input from the community and officials should be sent to this address:

    U.S. Postal Service

    Attn: Greg Shelton-East Union

    200 E Kentucky Ave

    Denver, CO 80209-4058

  12. The people saying others should walk with their packages don’t seem to realize that means 20 blocks for some people. I quite seriously doubt anyone trolling these comments about walking is actually walking 40 blocks roundtrip themselves.

  13. The only USPS locations in central Seattle area that have off street parking are the 4th Ave S, Lower Queen Anne, and Georgetown post offices the rest just have street parking.

    The Post Office probably dragged their feet on getting a replacement for the Union Station because they hoped no one would care that it closed so they could just not replace it. The USPS is facing declining First Class mail volumes so closing smaller locations like this saves them money. But if you look on the map at USPS.com there are no Blue Boxes east of 23rd Ave to the lake so the 34th location fills a void of drop off locations in that whole area.

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