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Downtown Austin Post Office Relocation Brings Parking Concerns
It's closing time for the Downtown Austin post office. The 16-year-old station at 5th and Guadalupe will be locking its doors at midnight Thursday and moving to a new location a half-mile away. It’s a cost-cutting move for the cash-strapped postal service, but some of the 2,000 post office box customers worry it could be more money out of their pockets.
"We get a lot of mail here every morning." For Fes Haas, the downtown station's closing means not just a change in his two-year morning routine, but also saying goodbye to free, available parking when coming to his business’ post office box.
"I don't know how they're gonna be able to take care of their customers with no parking,” said Haas. "It's gonna be very inconvenient."
The office is moving to 823 Congress, a busy stretch near the Capitol. The only options during business hours: finding paid street parking or a more expensive garage two blocks away.
"It's gonna be a wooly bear to try and get some of these big packages back to my office," said Haas.
"The option of building a facility with a parking lot in the preferred area of consideration, it just wasn't feasible,” said Sam Bolen of the U.S. Postal Service. “The cost would have been too high."
Bolen says many other large urban area post offices don't have free parking, and keeping the current location wasn't cost effective. The agency has already scaled back operations at the Guadalupe station and sold the lot to a development group responsible for some Austin high-rises. While the agency considered sites closer to I-35, Bolen says public feedback pushed the final site closer to the Capitol.
Bolen says people can move their P.O. boxes to the closest station on East Sixth, about a mile and a half away from the new Congress station, or any other station with P.O. boxes. However, that move means a new address, and with 90 percent of their clients, like Haas, affiliated with businesses, notifying clients can be inconvenient and costly.
Still, Bolen feels confident new demand will mean no drop in post office box customers at the new station, and for other clients like Maurice Rodriguez, it’s actually a better deal.
"It's a couple blocks away from my office, so it's within walking distance," said Rodriguez.
City of Austin officials say they won’t be able to gather mail from the P.O. Box at the downtown station during the move until January 2, when the new post office opens.
Bolen says he also expects a move with a post office in San Marcos from Guadalupe St. to Stagecoach Rd. in January.
By Adam Bennett