Despite earlier plans to move the city’s main post office from its downtown location, the U.S. Postal Service has decided the office on Federal Place will stay where it is, members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation announced Friday.
Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján said they welcome the news that the idea to move the post office — 120 S. Federal Place, across the street from City Hall — has been shelved.
The Postal Service, which has been leasing the downtown Santa Fe space in a federal building managed by the General Services Administration, began raising concerns last year that its rental costs were too high, particularly as the agency was wrangling with a multibillion-dollar deficit. But its plans to move met with opposition from local residents and businesses.
“Moving the post office would be devastating for downtown Santa Fe. While it is critical to ensure the taxpayers are getting the best value for their dollar, the Postal Service never made a valid case to the federal delegation or the city of Santa Fe for why it needed to move out of its current building,” Udall said in the news release. “This is very good news for downtown Santa Fe and the Postal Service workers who raised legitimate concerns about whether the proposed alternatives would have been appropriate.”
Udall chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees both the GSA and Postal Service budgets.
Heinrich and Luján also said they were happy with the decision to keep the post office in its current location.
“Post offices are critical as they provide essential services to residents and small businesses in Santa Fe and across New Mexico, and they help preserve the unique fabric of our communities,” Heinrich said.
“The Post Office is an important establishment in downtown Santa Fe and moving the location would have been detrimental to the community,” Luján said.
As recently as last September, the Postal Service was proceeding with its plan to move. A spokesman told The New Mexican that the agency was negotiating with a potential new landlord in Santa Fe. “We don’t have a specific date for the move,” spokesman Peter Haas said. “We anticipate the retail portion of that operation might move in 2014.”
Haas and other spokesmen couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
In July 2013, the Postal Service first announced the plan to move, saying it needed to cut costs. In a letter to city officials last year, the Postal Service said it preferred to move to Sanbusco Market Center, 100 N. Guadalupe St.
But Udall and then-Santa Fe Mayor David Coss said they would do their best to convince the Postal Service to drop the relocation plan. City officials filed a formal appeal to stop the move, but the appeal was denied.
Udall last August said the post office building likely would remain empty for a long time if the Postal Service moved out. “The GSA won’t find anybody to fill that,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a big eyesore. You get an empty building like that, and you don’t know what’ll happen. People start painting graffiti on it, windows get broken. It’s not a good situation.”
According to a rental agreement obtained by The New Mexican last year, the Postal Service pays GSA an annual rent fee of $855,000, which includes 58 parking spots and a radio antenna. However, Haas in September said the Postal Service had not yet signed the rental agreement. It wasn’t clear Friday whether that agreement has since been signed or whether the GSA agreed to lower the rent.
The building is occupied by not only the post office, but the city of Santa Fe, as well as several federal agencies. Besides selling stamps and hosting post office boxes, the Federal Place location is home to a postal distribution center, through which local mail flows to and from the processing center in Albuquerque.