New London gets update from Postal Service, but no buyer for downtown building

New London - Though the mayor, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and his staff, and representatives of the U.S. Postal Service have met twice in the last month to discuss the status of the post office building on Masonic Street, which has been for sale since 2012, no buyer has been identified and a sale does not appear imminent.

"There is no movement at this time," Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said Monday. "I did meet with representatives of the postal service and with representatives from Congressman Courtney's office, including the congressman himself, to discuss what future plans for the building may be and what alternate sites are being looked at and what alternatives may exist to keep postal operations where they currently are."

The sale price is listed as $725,000, reduced from $950,000, on uspspropertiesforsale.com, a Postal Service website.

Finizio said the meetings were arranged by Courtney's office. A Courtney spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Though the mayor said the discussions are "preliminary and ongoing," he also described them as "healthy and helpful."

"I appreciate the Postal Service communicating with us and taking our input," Finizio said.

The New London Post Office, a brick-and-stone building on 1.2 acres designed by local architects Ed Keefe and Morris Payne, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The three-story building, completed in 1934, features more than 45,000 square feet of space. Two weeks ago, Finizio met with the Postal Service's district manager and a Postal Service marketing official to discuss the building's future, according to Postal Service spokeswoman Christine Dugas.

Dugas said the meeting was held "to reassure the town that if the building does sell, we will continue to provide retail services in the downtown area of New London." But, Dugas said, the meeting was not held to discuss an arranged sale or future occupant of the historic building.

"There is no pending sale at this time," she said. "It was simply a meeting to keep the town informed."

A retail center, which would mail packages and sell stamps, would replace the downtown building. There would be no loss of jobs if all 21 letter carriers with routes in New London are transferred to the Waterford Post Office, officials have said. Finizio said the need for a downtown retail center is "one thing we've been very set on from very beginning."

Given its location - situated behind City Hall and next to the offices of the city's Finance Department - it could be used to consolidate some city and state offices that are scattered throughout the city. Finizio said that could be a possibility if the building remains under federal ownership, though the parties have not yet discussed it. The city itself, however, will not be buying the building for its own use.

"At no time have any of those conversations involved the city buying the post office building," the mayor said. "And the city has no interest in buying the building."

c.young@theday.com

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