Commission ponders use of old post office

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By consolidating Charleston’s two post offices into one location, the question of what to do with the left behind post office building at 320 Sixth St., near the square still

remains.

The new, and soon to be only, location for Charleston’s post office in the Northwest Business Park is at 667 Windsor Rd. The site has raised some concern, not only for members of the community, but as well for the Charleston Historic Preservation Commission.

“The new location will have an impact on all users of the facility,” Kit Morice, chairman of the Charleston Historic Preservation Commission, said.

The location is much farther from the center of town and is not easily walk able nor safe to ride a bike to since it’s off a two-lane

highway.”

Morice said the commission became involved in preserving the post office at Sixth Street in 2009 when it was rumored it might be sold to the neighboring Huck’s Convenient Food Store to be demolished to expand Huck’s.

Huck’s is located next to the post office and generally has a good amount of business, Morice said.

The Charleston Historic Preservation Commission has had trouble making sense of the idea of relocating the post office, she said.

“From a preservation angle, tearing down the old post office building to expand an existing business is not a net gain for the community,” Morice said.

The Sixth St. location is a historic building that has been a part of the Charleston downtown scene for almost 100 years, Morice said.

“Demolishing the building and the amount of materials that would be put into the waste stream is not a very green approach,” she said.

Rehabilitating the building and putting it to a new use preserves a historic resource and would divert those materials from the waste stream, Morice noted.

“The greenest building is one that is already here,” she said.

Built in 1917, the building itself has detail, genuine artistry, and special touches that are difficult and expensive to replicate today.

“Locating a new business or offices in a rehabilitated, brick building would help maintain the unique character of the downtown area while expanding the business base there,” she said.

Rachel Binder, a senior sociology major and Charleston resident, said she does not want to see the post office demolished.

“The only reason Huck’s would need more space is for parking,” she said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to tear down a historic building just to accommodate a few more parking spaces.”

Binder said she instead wants to see the post office preserved.

“I think they should keep the post office and actually do something with it,” she said.

She said with the prime location of the office, it is not only convenient for many residents by being centrally located, it is also ideal for a new location of a business.

Morice said that there are plenty of ways that the community could keep the historic building and put it to great use.

“There’s a great example in Bedford, Ohio, where the same post office building plan was converted to an architectural firm, earning the firm Gold LEED Certification for the rehab,” she said. “That is ultimately what we would like to see happen to ours.”

Brittany Floyd can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]