New London post office possible future home to city offices

New London – The New London Post Office could play a vital role during upcoming renovations to city hall when the city will need swing space, and possibly permanent homes, for displaced city offices.

The Office of Development and Planning will ask the City Council Tuesday to approve $10,500 to allow an architectural firm to figure out just how many city departments might fit into the upper floors of post office building both during and after renovations.

Once for sale, city officials see opportunity to rent space in the building located across from city hall. It is now off the market and receiving much needed capital improvement work thanks to federal funding helped along by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.

New Canaan-based Architectural Preservation Studio, formerly Wank Adams Slavin Associates, is the firm that that would complete the study and is the same firm being used to design the rehabilitation work of city hall. The project is expected to go to bid later this year.

The work, proposed to develop “operational space layouts,” is in addition to a study commissioned last year at a cost of nearly $16,000.

Office of Development and Planning Director Tammy Daugherty said the availability of the post office completely changed the scope of the study.

Relocation of offices to the post office building at 27 Masonic St., with 45,000 square feet of available space, would help to reduce costs of connected phone and other communication lines between offices.

Mayor Michael Passero said the space crunch at city hall, the close proximity of the post office and the fact that city departments are scattered about in several buildings makes the post office an attractive spot to rent space.

“The city is sort of giving it a good look as a place we could consolidate our offices, maybe divest ourselves of some real estate and properties costing us a fortune to maintain,” Passero said.

All offices at city hall will need to be relocated during the upcoming renovations. The City Council has previously approved borrowing $3 million for the work.

Along with a space crunch at city hall, portions of the Stanton Building at 11 Union St. are unfit for occupancy until structural work there is completed. The office of Planning and Development was relocated to city hall last year and temporary trailers adjacent to the building house the city’s building inspection division.

While many departments will move temporarily, the proposed study will look at the possibility of permanently moving the building department, public utilities, information technology and probate and children’s court, among others.

The post office, a brick-and-stone building built in 1934, sits on 1.2 acres and was designed by local architects Ed Keefe and Morris Payne. It is on National Register of Historic Places.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

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