The U.S. Postal Service is mulling locations for a new Seattle Central District branch after closing the area’s longtime post office earlier this year.
The two leading candidates are storefronts at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, in the heart of the area, and at 34th Avenue and East Union Street, in the Madrona neighborhood, said Gregory Shelton, a real-estate specialist with the Postal Service.
For decades, the Postal Service operated a post office in the Midtown Center complex, also at 23rd Avenue and East Union. But the branch closed in January to make way for redevelopment, and customers were told to use a post office on Broadway Avenue East near John Street, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reported.
The change has made it more difficult for some Central District residents to access mail and shipping services, though a mom-and-pop mail and shipping business recently opened at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Union.
The Postal Service initially considered waiting for the Midtown Center property to be redeveloped and then moving back. But residents have sought a more expeditious plan, backed by City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith.
“Go to any post office and you’ll see working-class families, low-income people, retirees, elderly people and small-business owners,” Sawant said Friday.
The Central District is a historic black community and some residents have linked the closure of their post office to gentrification, she said. Easy access to a post office can be important for people with unstable housing or insecure mailboxes, she added.
Sawant called on constituents to sign a petition, and more than 600 did so, she said. During a Thursday night meeting at Garfield Community Center set up by the council member, several dozen people showed up to make themselves heard.
“Everyone said ‘We want something today. We don’t want to wait three years,’ ” Shelton said. “It was almost unanimous.”
One space under consideration is a storefront now occupied by an electric-bike shop in a building at 23rd and Union, across the street from the Midtown Center property, he said. Another contender is next to a pub at 34th and Union.
Joanna Cullen, a resident active in the Central District’s Squire Park neighborhood, believes the 23rd and Union location would be best because the intersection is a busier hub with robust bus service and denser housing nearby.
Shelton will accept mailed comments through June 1 about where the new branch should be sited. Those should be addressed to:
U.S. Postal Service
Attn: Greg Shelton – East Union
200 E. Kentucky Ave.
Denver, CO 80209
The Postal Service will likely issue a decision in mid to late June, Shelton said.
Because readying a new location could take many months, Sawant wants to work with the Postal Service on a temporary, mobile branch for the Central Area, she said.