Downtown post office
The U.S. Postal Service is mulling whether to move its downtown post office to a site just south of the Hallmark Cards Inc. plant at 101 McDonald Drive.
The site is among several pitched as options for the postal service, which is being asked to consider moving to make way for a downtown redevelopment project.
"I think that would a be a good use for it," said Paul Werner, a Lawrence architect working on behalf of owners of the five-acre lot at the northwest corner of Princeton Boulevard and McDonald Drive, just south of a Hallmark parking lot. "But there are a whole lot of things that go with that: moving a post office, building one, cutting a deal with the government.
"We've shown them several potential sites. That's one of them."
For now, at least, postal officials aren't ready to sign onto an agreement to relocate anything. The service is busy conducting an internal analysis, to determine what might be needed to make such a deal a reality.
"Nothing's been signed," said Judy Raney, Lawrence postmaster. "It's in limbo, at this point."
The post office owns its current downtown operations center, at 645 Vt., which has been the main Lawrence post office since 1965. The center now has 99 employees - that's carriers, support staffers and others, who together are responsible for accommodating customers at the office or serving customers on 45 routes.
The main office's service area covers much of Lawrence, generally north of 18th Street, and rural areas stretching into areas of Jefferson and Leavenworth counties.
The post office isn't against selling its property downtown, Raney said. It's all a matter of seeing what it would take to set up shop elsewhere - while retaining a storefront downtown.
Provided that developers continue to pursue the project, Raney said, "Yes, I think it will happen."
Scheduling remains another matter. Just as Raney acknowledges that government often doesn't move at a particularly swift pace, Werner's clients still have their hands full. The same principal owners selling the five-acre lot also are busy building a hotel - The Oread Inn - just off the northern edge of Kansas University's main campus.
As that construction continues, Werner said, postal officials will have time to compile information for a potential relocation.
"It's a huge process," Werner said.