Ms. Diana K. Alvarado
U.S. Postal Service
RE: Proposed Sale of Berkeley CA Post Office Building
Dear Ms Alvarado:
I write with a unique perspective as to why the Postal Service should reconsider authorizing an immediate fire-sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office facility to private developers. Alternatively, I suggest that USPS should take time to explore and partner with other public entities (federal, state, county, or city) to find creative alternatives so that this historic building remains in the public domain.
I draw your attention to a remarkably successful example of how this kind of effort can succeed by citing the San Francisco Main Post Office at 7th and Mission streets. Its conservation and conversion to the seat of the US Ninth District Court of Appeals won universal accolades in the late 90's, and now sits as a positive bastion of public investment and presence in San Francisco. As a result of that "magnet" effort, the new SF Federal building was built next door.
Of course Berkeley is not San Francisco and is smaller in scale. However the same elements are in play. This would be the USPS wanting to divest itself of assets that no longer serve its core mission.
All are painfully aware that USPS on the national scale is in the process of redefining what that mission might be. This, however, does not mean that USPS is warranted in a "bail and punt" strategy, most particularly for the historic building assets it holds in public trust.
The Berkeley downtown postal facility is a building of classic historic significance and one that binds our community: I urge you to recommend to your superiors to defer a "sale" at this time, and for a period of 1 year. This will allow our City Council and a united community time to explore, engage and propose public options on how this building can be reconfigured, "repurposed" and maintained as a public asset.
Thank you, in advance, for such a recommendation.
Victoria Peirotes is a Berkeley resident. In addition, she was, for 6 years, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Architect for the reconversion of the former SF Downtown Main Post Office @ 7th and Mission Streets to the Headquarters of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.