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Post Office Close to Selling Union Square Building, Says Somerville Planning Director

Though a deal seems close, the Post Office has not said who the potential buyer is, said Michael Glavin.

The United States Post Office is close to inking a deal to sell its Union Square building, according to Michael Glavin, director of Somerville's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development.

"They think they are very close on making a decision on a sale," Glavin said Thursday night after a Somerville Board of Aldermen meeting.

However, the Post Office hasn't said who the potential buyer is. "They did not tell me," Glavin said.

The Post Office put the building on the market in spring of 2012 with an asking price of $2.5 million. It announced in 2011 it had plans to sell the building.

In an email to Somerville Patch from 2012, Post Office Spokesperson Dennis Tarmey emphasized the Post Office was not planning to close Union Square as a location. Rather, it was looking to maintain a "retail presence" in Union Square while shifting its carrier operation and incoming mail center to Chelsea. The post office was looking to secure about 2,000 square feel of retail space in Union Square to continue service in the neighborhood.

The Union Square Post Office opened in 1936 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The lobby of the building contains original murals painted by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

The city of Somerville had considered plans to convert the building into a performing arts center but was not prepared to purchase the property.

Glavin said if the new owner were interested in turning the building into an arts center, the city would willingly look at such a proposal.

"Our great concern is that whoever buys that property, they're aware of our plans for the area," he said.

In 2012 the city released and approved the Union Square Revitalization Plan, which maps out a vision for Union Square over the next few decades, spurred in large part by the expected arrival of a Green Line station in the square. The Post Office site was an area of focus in the revitalization plan.

"We all see it as an important building," Glavin said.

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Union Square Post Office Officially on Market for $2.5 Million

Joe Beckmann March 01, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Given that the Post Office is directly across the street from where they want to build a Library, at nearly twenty times the P.O. price for not that much more space, I wonder if they expect to keep the old library as long as they've kept some of the un-used schools before converting it? Is this a difference between city government and the feds, or are there other measurements of timely and effective re-use than these?? I wonder if there will be any citizen participation in planning the new uses of the old post office?? The US Postal Service has moved further out of government oversight since it was built, but it is still an historic building, and should therefore be accountable to a public purpose. Or will they rent a space in the new Library for a branch post office?? And thereby reduce our operating costs on the library and make email more available at even lower cost than stamps....

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