Relocating the Christiansted Post Office just a few blocks could be the catalyst in redeveloping downtown, Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James said Monday night.
James made his remarks at a "town meeting" regarding the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to move the downtown station to another location, preferably within a mile radius of the current site. The lieutenant governor’s choice for a new site, which Postal Service officials said would be in an existing building, is Times Square.
"My outlook on the whole project is very simple," said James. "The relocation of the post office is going to bring 1,000 individuals . . . to that site every day. You’re actually going to generate traffic in that area.
"The Times Square area will become a magnet."
However, several downtown business owners and residents cautioned the Postal Service about locating in Times Square. Mike Harris, a retail store owner and downtown developer, said revamping Times Square shouldn’t be done at the expense of business owners who have revitalized the area near the waterfront.
"To leapfrog up to Times Square would be a disservice to the struggling businesses in town," he said. "It’s a den of inequity up there. I’m of the opinion it should be in the greater downtown area."
Others noted that tourists and businesses use the current site, on the corner of Church and Company Streets, and predicted that if the new location is in Times Square safety issues would arise.
According to Postal Service official Jose Antonmatti, the current location is, at 2,900 square feet, too small. The Postal Service will look for a space of at least 5,000 square feet within a mile of the current site. If there is nothing available, they will push the radius out to 1.5 miles.
"We want to practically double the size of what we have now for customers and work space," Antonmatti said. "I know it’s not an easy task, because we need parking spaces. That will be one of the many requirements."
Limiting the decision on the location is the fact that there are already stations at Gallows Bay and Richmond, and the physical barrier of Christiansted Harbor.
Besides being too small, the current building requires costly upgrades, said Tom Pino of from the Postal Service’s New York and Caribbean region office in New Jersey.
"The building … is, for all intents and purposes, functionally obsolete," Pino said.
The Postal Service is in the process of selling the building to the National Park Service, which will turn the site into a museum as part of the Christiansted National Historic Site. Pino said, however, that the post office woould not move until a new location is found and made ready.
The search process, comment period and renovation is expected to take about a year
V.I. Postmaster Louis Jackson said that before any decision is made, a series of steps will be taken, including a comment period and site selection process, which includes a security analysis for both customers and post office employees.
From the meeting on Monday there is a 30-day comment period that will be followed by a formal 30-to-45-day period. For more information call V.I. Postmaster Louis Jackson at 774-1950, ext. 12 or Tom Pino at 201-714-5474.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here