Bethesda post offices to consolidate in three months -- Gazette.Net







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Bethesda residents soon will have a new place to buy stamps and mail packages.

The citys two post offices, at 7001 Arlington Road and 7400 Wisconsin Ave., will be consolidated in a new facility within three months, said Laura Dvorak, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service.

The postal service is seeking to lease a 5,000-square-foot building between the current locations, preferably a space with a parking lot. The new facility will include the same services and layoffs are not anticipated.

Once a suitable site is found and the all other pieces are in place, consolidation may proceed, Dvorak said. The Bethesda Post Offices' consolidation is part of the ongoing focus of USPS to continue to provide quality postal services to customers while shrinking our vast network of facilities. Consolidation means less heating, air conditioning, lighting and rent expenses.

The Arlington Road facility will be a great loss, said Bethesda resident Millicent Vesper, a senior citizen. She will miss the generous parking lot.

Ive enjoyed the convenience of this, she said. I dont know where Ill go.

The property is under contract but has not been sold.

It will be converted to housing, as part of a five-story multiuse facility by Philadelphia-based Keating Project Development Inc. Proposed in 2006, the project will include 7,000 square feet of commercial space, down from 30,000 square feet due to the loss of the postal service, according to Montgomery County Planning Department documents.

The project will include 145 housing units, up from 105, after the Montgomery County Council approved a development plan amendment Tuesday.

The building will be set back 60 feet from the Capital Crescent Trail, a paved walking/biking path that abuts the property.

Washington, D.C.-based Donohoe Companies purchased the Wisconsin Avenue facility for about $4 million last March. The postal service is leasing the facility.

Lamenting its loss was Bethesda resident Janica Kyriacopoulos. Although parking is difficult, she said its proximity to the Bethesda Metro station is key.

Its a huge inconvenience because this ones right by the Metro and its always busy, she said.

The historic post office was built in 1938 and is included in the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation. Donohoe did not return calls for comment, but the purchase was a strategic acquisition and the company has no short-term plans for it, said Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.