Confirming rumors buzzing around City Hall, the U.S. Postal Service told this newspaper Friday that the historic downtown Berkeley Post Office is “under contract but not yet sold.”
The Berkeley City Council has received a letter from City Attorney Zach Cowan saying that he believes that the Berkeley Post Office might already been sold or at least the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in contract with a potential buyer. Pursuant to previous authorization from the Council, the city of Berkeley has authorized attorney Antonio Rossmann to file a lawsuit, hoping to prevent the sale.
The Berkeley city attorney has informed the City Council he believes someone has purchased the downtown U.S. post office at 2000 Allston Way, and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop the sale…
“It is my conclusion that at a minimum a buyer has been chosen, and that it is likely that there is at least a letter of understanding in place, if not a contract and perhaps an open escrow… Accordingly, pursuant to the authority granted by the Council in May 2013, I have directed our outside counsel, Tony Rossmann, to initiate litigation against the USPS to prevent the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office. We are working closely with the National Trust and have asked them to participate in the litigation as well.”
The name of the purchaser is still secret, although there have been rumors that it is a Berkeley developer.
USPS spokesman James Wigdel declined to name a potential buyer or to talk about what steps remain before a sale is concluded. USPS formally put the 100-year-old building at 2000 Allston Way up for sale in July 2013, drawing loud protests from many in the community.
Berkeley Post Office Defenders has issued the following, preliminary report:
The Sale of Our Post Offices – A Quick Review
- After a moratorium of sorts on the sale of historic Post Offices for almost a year…
- The Bronx Post Office was sold in September, 2014
- The Somerville, MA Post Office was sold in early October
- The Richmond, VA Post Office was put up for sale.
- A Houston Post Office was saved after protests and intervention by their Congressperson.
- The Santa Clara Post Office was saved after a petition and intervention by their Congressperson.
- On 10/25/14 the USPS said the Berkeley Post Office is “under contract” to be sold.
- The Postal Service accepted, then reneged on, a proposal to have the City of Berkeley be custodian of the artwork in our Post Office – they now demand that they, themselves, play that role
- The Postal Service has refused to recognize that there would be any “adverse impact” due to the sale, as required by law.
- Despite the Zoning Overlay passing, we now know the Postal Service is getting ready to sell our Post Office without regard to the people’s desires and its artistic, historic and civic value
Many people have worked diligently for 2 years writing politicians, meeting, holding rallies & concerts, passing out 1000’s of flyers,
occupying the steps and Staples, initiating a zoning overlay and Measure R :
AND THEY STILL DON’T GET THE MESSAGE!
THIS IS OUR PUBLIC POST OFFICE AND WE DON’T WANT IT SOLD
SBPO has an excellent background article on the negotiations and legalities involved in the sale.