The United States Postal Service has decided to sell its post office on Palmer Square as part of the agency’s attempts to cut costs, a Postal Service Spokesman confirmed Thursday in a phone interview with Planet Princeton.
If the agency is successful in selling the property, a prime piece of real estate located at 20 Palmer Square East, the post office retail operation would be relocated to a much smaller location somewhere in Princeton that is yet to be determined.
The sale is part of the agency’s “optimization plan” to use its resources as efficiently as possible, Postal Service Spokesman Raymond Daiutolo said.
“Palmer Square is a retail location now and is no longer used for carriers, who are based out of another post office ,” he said. “The Palmer Square building is 11,000 square feet, but less than 2,000 square feet is being used for the retail operation. The rest is not being used.”
For 2011, the assessed value for the Postal Service property is $1.9 million, though the federal agency does not pay taxes on the property.
A timeline for the sale of the Palmer Square property is still unclear. The Postal Service completed a study, made a decision to sell the building, and informed employees and the borough mayor of its plans this week.
Earlier this year, Princeton carriers were shifted to the West Windsor post office at Carnegie Center as their home base. Some services residents previously could handle at the borough post office must now be taken care of at the West Windsor location, for example picking up mail when a hold has been place on it while a resident is away.
The Postal Service is selling buildings all over the country in an attempt to save money. The U.S. Postmaster General announced earlier this month that the agency would study selling or consolidating 252 of its 487 mail-processing centers as part of a plan to save as much as $3 billion annually. The postal service has decided to sell many post offices, including some listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and could decide to sell more.
Mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past 5 years and is continuing to decline. First-Class Mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece First-Class Mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same time frame, and nearly 50 percent in the past ten years. The decline has created substantial excess capacity within the postal processing network.
In his annual state of the Postal Service address to the mailing industry earlier this month, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Donahoe described what he called the Postal Service’s new reality.
“We have reduced our annual costs by more than $12 billion and our workforce has been reduced by 110,000 career employees over the past four years, but we must do significantly more to return to profitability,” Donahoe said. “We must reduce our annual costs by $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable, and we do not currently have the flexibility in our business model to achieve these cost reductions.”