JOSÉ LUIS VILLEGAS / jvillegas@sacbee.com

The Postal Service hopes its amnesty program encourages the return of its plastic bins, which cost the agency $4 each.

Sacramento post office to leave historic building downtown in July for mall location

Published: Thursday, May. 3, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 8, 2012 - 11:12 am

The U.S. Postal Service plans to move its retail operations to Westfield Downtown Plaza from its historic 801 I St. location in July, the agency announced.

The move is expected to save the Postal Service money and be more convenient for patrons.

It also makes downtown guide Mike Munson happy he won't have to feel bad about directing stamp buyers to a UPS store anymore.

Munson, a retired mail carrier, has sometimes steered people away from the 801 I St. post office because customers must pass through elaborate security at the government office building.

Starting in July, however, postal retail operations downtown will be located on J Street in the mall. Munson will point people there to find the stamps, mailing supplies and post office boxes that have been available on I Street.

But not the same architectural wonder.

The I Street building was put up in 1933 as a Depression-era public works statement. It has 100 tons of architectural terra cotta outside and intriguing detail work inside.

Also, it has metal detectors in the lobby.

To buy stamps, visitors must pass through the scanner, empty their pockets of keys and change, run bags through X-ray machines and switch on phones to show guards they work.

That is why Munson told people to go elsewhere. In July he'll direct them to Downtown Plaza, sans screening.

"It's a win-win," said Munson, even though 801 I is where he first went to work as a carrier in 1965.

The move is expected to save the Postal Service money, said spokesman Augustin Ruiz. Not only was 801 I St. bigger than necessary, the security meant a loss of box holders, he said.

"It will be a money saver and it will be a lot more convenient for our customers," he said.

"The new United States Post Office location is a welcome addition to Westfield Downtown Plaza," said Raelene Trumm, general manager for the mall.

Among the benefits not available at the old location will be validated parking and Saturday hours.

The move has been in the works for more than a year.

The Postal Service shocked some locals in January 2011 by posting notice that it intended to leave what had been downtown's main post office for 80 years. The building is also home to divisions of the federal departments of Interior and Transportation, as well as the U.S. courts system and other agencies.

Cutting Postal Service expenses is "more important than walking two blocks or not," said Sonia Petrozello, a customer in line for service in the old building's ornate lobby.

The move is "not a big deal," agreed postal patron Jim Hill, who will have to walk about three blocks more from the nearby Cal-EPA building.

The new post office will be at 560 J St., inside the mall near Golden 1 Credit Union and Erin Hayes Shoe Repair.

The increase in foot traffic should benefit her business, Hayes said.

"There's a lot of people out there who don't know you can fix shoes," she said.

Workers at the I Street facility had not yet been notified of the move.

"The everyday worker is probably not aware of what is going on," Ruiz said.

The new facility is being renovated and a ribbon cutting may be held in July, he said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Carlos Alcalá



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