The East Austin Station Post Office, a community landmark for nearly 50 years where nowadays young hipsters rub elbows with old-timers as the old neighborhood changes, will stay open after all.
Postmaster Fina Morales said in a statement Friday that the station will remain at 1914 E. Sixth St. under terms of a new 10-year lease with Austin developers. But the post office will be considerably smaller, redesigned to occupy about one-fourth of its current roughly 5,700-square-foot facility. Businesses will be located on either side of the renovated post office, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
In July 2012, developers announced they had purchased the building occupied by the post office as well as an adjoining property with a vacant 20,000-square-foot building. With the Postal Service’s lease there set to expire this month, it was unclear whether the lease would be renegotiated. Longtime residents worried about the demise of the institution, which they described as popular with elderly and low-income people who still bought stamps there.
In 2009, the East Austin post office was one of four in Austin removed from a list of about 700 facilities the Postal Service was considering for closure or consolidation to cut billions in costs.
Construction on the redesigned post office will begin Monday, when postal operations will move temporarily to a trailer in the parking lot, said Barbara Michalek, customer relations coordinator with the Postal Service in Austin.
“We’re hearing we should be able to move back in” in early 2014, Michalek said.
The East Austin Station Post Office opened Oct. 1, 1963, and offers retail services and post office box delivery, but no street delivery.
Though the redesigned facility will shrink in size, it will continue to offer the same services, Michalek said. She said the larger facility was needed when mail carriers delivered from the location to ZIP codes 78702, 78721 and 78722. But in 2012, the carriers were moved to larger facilities in Northeast and Southeast Austin. Only two employees work at the East Austin station.
At the temporary trailer, postal box customers will be able to access their boxes between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays. A postal employee will be on duty from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays to provide service to postal box customers, such as for certified mail requiring a signature or to dispense items too large to fit into the boxes.
Full retail services, however, will not be available at the trailer until mid-October, Michalek said.
The post office recommended that, until full retail services can be provided, customers should visit full service postal stations at 823 Congress Ave., Suite 150; 111 E 17th St.; 4300 Speedway; 3507 N. Lamar Blvd.; or 4516 Burleson Road.
Morales said the postal service regrets inconveniences caused by the construction, “but we are sure our customers will appreciate the office remaining in this location and will like the new East Austin Station once renovation has been completed.”