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Five sites contend for new Wenatchee post office location

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City officials and members of the community have until July 19 to submit written comments on the five possible locations for a new Wenatchee post office. Mail comments to:

Vice President, Facilities
c/o Russ Rainey
USPS Facilities Office
7500 E. 53rd Place, Room 1108
Denver, CO 80266-9918

WENATCHEE — Stand in line at one possible location for Wenatchee’s new post office, and you could get a whiff of chicken chow mein. At another, that unmistakable new-car scent.

Smells like change is coming, right?

The U.S. Postal Service says you can count on it.

Five possible locations for a new Wenatchee post office — including a former Chinese restaurant and a vacated car dealership — were revealed Thursday during a quick discussion by City Council members about a Postal Service letter that lists location options.

Received June 20, the letter notifies the city that the agency has narrowed possible locations for “alternative quarters” for the downtown post office to five contenders.

It also asks that any written comments from the council or the public on the sites be submitted within 30 days.

Following the comment period, the postal service will form a site selection committee to review the sites, their amenities, any public comments. They’d then recommend a final site. The public would have another 30 days to respond to that choice.

No official timeline for the decision has been announced yet, said Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson in Seattle. But review of the sites is expected to take place in July.

The five possible locations:

1050 Maple St. — the former Royal Palace Chinese restaurant, across from Shopko.

722 N. Mission St. — the former Valley Auto Dodge Chrysler dealership, next to Andrew’s Sew and Vac.

30 N. Chelan Ave. — the north half of McDee’s Art Center.

212 Fifth St. — vacant space in Mission Village, near Radio Shack, Tastebuds, Garlini’s Napoletana and others.

1111 N. Mission St. — vacant space in Mission Place, between Cafe Rio and Baskin-Robbins.

Relocation of Wenatchee post office, now in the Federal Building at 301 Yakima St., has been under discussion for two years as one response to the Postal Service’s ongoing financial woes. The agency currently faces nearly $100 billion in debt and unfunded workers benefits and has looked to cut costs wherever it can.

Now we’re in a downsizing mode,” said Russ Rainey, Postal Service real estate specialist in Denver. “And this is part of the process.”

In 2012, postal officials said rent for space in the Federal Building, owned by the federal General Accounting Office, was hovering at around $500,000 per year, and that cheaper options would be sought.

Ideally, Yakima Street’s postal operations would be moved and split in two, said officials. Mail sorting, bagging and trucking would relocate to the postal service’s Wenatchee Distribution Center in Olds Station, and a new postal retail storefront would be leased in an existing building nearby.

At the new storefront, customers could buy stamps and mail letters, receive and ship packages, and receive mail in rented postal boxes.

Rainey said the ideal location would have about 5,500 square feet, be easily accessible to auto traffic and pedestrians, have all utilities installed, have adequate customer parking and an acceptable lease rate. Top priority: Space and access for all postal service operations.

To use the hound dog analogy,” said Rainey, “mail operations are the entire body of the dog and real estate considerations are the very tip of the tail. Getting mail to postal customers is the main concern for any post office location. Other criteria are important, but less so.”

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.