The Richmond Main Post Office is an essential economic, historic, and cultural asset to Downtown Richmond, providing vital services to the community.
In January 2017, the United States Postal Service announced a proposal to relocate retail post office operations residing at the historic Richmond Main Post Office, located at 1025 Nevin Avenue, to the McVittie DDU facility at 2100 Chanslor Avenue. The announcement also communicated USPS’s intention to sell this historic and culturally significant Art Deco building.
Richmond Main Street Initiative, the Office of Mayor Tom Butt, the Office of Congressman DeSaulnier, the Office of Senator Kamala Harris, Richmond City Council, the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council, and many others quickly organized and worked to fight this proposal. Despite strong opposition from the community, in late December 2017 USPS listed the post office for sale. On July 16, 2018, USPS released a letter reversing its intention to sell the building, citing “changing market conditions”.
Although USPS reversed it’s decision to sell the Richmond Main Post Office, the fight is not over. Join us in protecting the post office:
Help get it on the National Register of Historic Places. If you can help in any way with this process, contact us.
February 15, 2019
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced via press release on February 12, 2019, that he will host a ceremony to officially rename the Richmond Main Post Office in honor of Harold D. McCraw, Sr. The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the United States Post Office and will feature remarks by Mr. McCraw’s family and local leaders. A plaque honoring Mr. McCraw’s 45 years of services, including time as Richmond Postmaster. This is a tremendous step forward in honoring Mr. McCraw Sr., as a public servant and community leader, and preserving the post office as a historic site. We offer tremendous thanks to Representative DeSaulnier and his team for their vision, perseverance, and dedication in this effort.
This good news follows the Post Service’s announcement in July 2018 that it had decided to cancel the sale of the Richmond Main Post Office, stating: “after careful analysis of changing marketing conditions, [USPS has] determined it will not pursue the potential disposal of this Property as this time. If the USPS determines in the future that conditions are appropriate to pursue a disposal undertaking, it will reinitiate Section 106 consultation.”
Huge thanks to everyone who attended the meetings, wrote letters, signed the petition, shared this story, and resisted USPS’s proposal to remove this vital service from the community!
What Happens Next?
Although this is very good news for our community and ensures that the Richmond Main Post Office will remain open and providing vital retail post office services to residents and businesses, we also recognize that the fight to protecting it from “disposal” by USPS is not over. The renaming of the post office will be a big step forward in preservation efforts and we hope that the bill to do so is successful. An official historic designation may be the best way to protect the building from future sale and we are exploring how we may be able to get this process started.
Our staff is small and we do not have the expertise or financial capacity to pursue the process of designating the building as a historic place, such as the National Register of Historic Places. If you can help in any way with this process, please contact us.
Richmond Main Street staff, in collaboration with the offices of our elected officials, will do their very best to continue to advocate on behalf of the Richmond community, ensure the historic preservation of the building and operation of the post office, and provide updates as they become available.
In partnership & community,
Richmond Main Street Initiative
Alicia Gallo, (510) 236-4049, firstname.lastname@example.org
Timeline of Events
January 26, 2017: Upon being alerted by a constituent, Councilmember Martinez drafted an agenda item contesting the notice to sell the post office.
May 5, 2017: Potential Relocation of Post Office Notice of Public Meeting & Comment Period and Letter to Mayor Tom Butt posted.
May 16, 2017: Notice of Public Meeting published on USPS website.
May 31, 2017: USPS holds public meeting; 30-day public comment period initiated. Richmond community organizes letter writing, outreach, and online petition campaign.
June 15, 2017: Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council hosts Town Hall meeting, that is well attended by residents, business owners, and community leaders, as well as representatives for Mayor Tom Butt, Congressman DeSaulnier, and Supervisor Gioia. All speakers oppose proposed relocation.
June 30: USPS public comment period closes. Richmond Main Street and the Mayor’s Office facilitated collecting and mailing at least 250 letters and 113 online petition signatures.
August 10, 2017: Final Decision Regarding Richmond Main Post Office and letter from Tom Samra (USPS) addressed to Mayor Tom Butt, announcing the agency’s decision to move forward with the relocation, closure, and sale of Richmond Main Post Office, posted.
August 21, 2017: USPS posted a notice stating that they are initiating the Section 106 process, which regulates the sale of historic buildings owned by the Federal government. As part of this process, a 30 day public comment period was initiated and citizens were informed they may submit comments related to the adverse effects that this sale may have on this historic property. The notice also stated that a packet of materials related to this finding was available at the post office for review. The packet was also mailed to consulting parties, including Richmond Main Street. Upon receiving reports that the packet was not available to the public, Richmond Main Street contacted USPS to inquire. A digital version of the packet was sent via email and forwarded by Richmond Main Street staff to concerned citizens; availability of a physical copy at the post office was not resolved.
September 13, 2017: USPS sent a letter to Mayor Tom Butt, constituting the offer to sell the Richmond Main Post Office to City of Richmond. The offer includes: sale price of $2,020,000 (cash); City funding $25,000 escrow; City providing retail space of 1,576 net sqft for 50 years at zero rent, with City covering all costs for utilities, maintenance, and custodial services; City paying for any required remodeling to accomodate shared tenants; City is prohibited from reselling the property for a profit; acceptance of offer by October 16, 2017. City of Richmond enters negotiations with USPS.
December 23, 2017: Despite valiant attempts to stop it and generous offers by the City of Richmond to acquire it, the United States Postal Service formally listed the Richmond Main Post Office building for sale and requested offers by December 28, 2017. No asking price was listed. The listing was removed on December 28.
February 2018: Richmond Main Post Office listed as for sale on JLL website. No asking price was listed.
July 16, 2018: USPS announces, via letter, its decision to cancel the sale of the Richmond Main Post Office, stating: “after careful analysis of changing marketing conditions, [USPS has] determined it will not pursue the potential disposal of this Property as this time. If the USPS determines in the future that conditions are appropriate to pursue a disposal undertaking, it will reinitiate Section 106 consultation.”
A few days later, Congressman DeSaulnier released a statement thanking the community for their activism and provided an update on the renaming: “Now that the Nevin Avenue Post Office will remain open, we are continuing our efforts to rename the facility in honor of Harold D. McCraw, Sr., a distinguished and dedicated civil servant who worked in the Richmond Post Office for 45 years. I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will consider the bill in the near future.”
September 13, 2018: Legislation authored by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) to rename the Richmond Main Post Office in as the “Harold D. McCraw, Sr., Post Office Building” (H.R. 606) unanimously passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives.
November 15, 2018: U.S. Senate unanimously passes H.R. 606.
December 6, 2018: Legislation signed into law by the President (public law # 115-283)
February 12, 2019: Congressman DeSaulnier announces via press release Harold D. McCraw, Sr., Post Office Naming Ceremony to be held on Friday, February 22, from 1-2pm, at 1025 Nevin Avenue.
Why the Richmond Main Post Office Matters
The Richmond Main Post Office, located at 1025 Nevin Avenue, is essential to ensure the economic health and historic legacy of Downtown, both as an institution and for the vital services that it provides to the public.
Any of the proposed changes to this post office’s operations or location would be detrimental to all residents and businesses, as well as the current revitalization efforts in Downtown.
Richmond is woefully underserved in many aspects. Many groups are working together to change this. A strong business community and access to robust, centrally located public services, like the Richmond Main Post Office, are necessary for these efforts. Closing the Richmond Main Post Office—the primary and most historically significant post office in the city—will add to this unfortunate trend.
Access to a retail post office Downtown is necessary for all community members for the purposes of accessing post office boxes, mail-box drop-off, passport applications, and other retail postal services.
The Richmond Main Post Office is centrally located to residents, visitors, and merchants, as well as many public transportation options. This post office is .4 miles from the Richmond Transit Station, hub for BART, Amtrak, AC Transit, R-Transit, and many shuttles. Sidewalks in the area are wide, with ADA compliant curbs. The Downtown district is home to over 60 businesses, including two major employers, Kaiser Permanente and Social Security Administration, which sit on either side of the Richmond Main Post Office.
As Ms. Doris Mason, president of Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council, stated at the Public Hearing on May 31, the Richmond Main Post Office is used by residents from North, Central, and South Richmond. For many, this post office is the only one that is accessible for them.
The Richmond community has already dealt with the closure of the Station A Post Office at 200 Broadway. If the Richmond Main Post Office were to close, our community would be subjected to additional burdens. Residents would be forced to travel excessive distances in order to reach other post offices in the area, which are smaller, not easily accessible by all modes of transportation, and have minimal parking. In particular, closing this post office will cause a significant hardship to seniors and those with physical disabilities, individuals with limited access to the Internet, and people who rely on public transportation.
Although located just .9 miles away from the Richmond Main Post Office, the McVittie DDU facility (2100 Chanslor Avenue) is not an acceptable location for retail post office services. This facility is located in a residential neighborhood, is not pedestrian-friendly, is not accessible by any forms of public transportation, and sits at the intersection of two dead-end streets. The McVittie DDU facility is therefore not accessible to all members of the public, especially those with physical disabilities, who rely on public transportation, work hourly jobs with fixed schedules, or who must be able to perform retail post office services in a timely manner.
As disclosed at the Public Hearing held on May 31, no reports evaluating the environmental or traffic impact have been completed. Therefore, the relocation of retail post office operations to this area has not taken into full consideration the impacts that an increase in vehicular traffic will have on the environment, the municipal infrastructure, or the residents’ quality of life.
Future development plans for Downtown include an increase in housing (approx. 1000 units) and retail space (60k sqft) within the next 5 years. Richmond Main Street Initiative (a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing historic Downtown Richmond) is working diligently with a new developer to fill the BART retail space (10k sqft) on Macdonald Avenue with several new businesses, including a café and a business incubator/co-working space that will bring more businesses Downtown.
The City of Richmond recently released a Request for Qualifications and Proposals for opportunity sites in the Macdonald Avenue Corridor. This RFQ/P includes 5 properties in Downtown and outlines that “[d]evelopments, where appropriate, should feature a blend of mid and high-rise mixed-use development to galvanize the major activity center to serve the community and region. Office, retail, entertainment and residential uses are allowed.” These forthcoming infill and future development projects will be located within .5 miles of Richmond Main Post Office, and will bring more residents, businesses, and visitors Downtown.
The relocation of public services outside of city center areas is against development best practices and adopted policies of Associated Bay Area Governments, which are actively supporting high-density, transit-oriented development with a variety of private and public services that are centrally located.
“The Post Office provides a sense of place.”
~ Kate Sibley, Richmond resident.
Many community members, especially long-time residents, have very strong connections to the Richmond Main Post Office. Since 1938, it has operated as the main post office for the city. During WWII it is where all people of Japanese descent were required to register as ‘enemy aliens’ and it also served as a designated air raid shelter.
The building is a spectacular example of Art Deco architecture and is a rare example of a building that has retained both its original form and function. It serves as a landmark for residents and visitors. The relocation of retail operations, and the inevitable closure and sale of the building that would follow, raises serious historic preservation concerns. Downtown Richmond has already lost a large portion of its historic buildings; others have been abandoned or left vacant for many years, with owners who do have the financial means or desire to restore them. A vacant post office would be a setback for Downtown’s revitalization.
The local APWU chapter and all retired postal workers in attendance at the May 31 Public Hearing spoke very strongly against the relocation/closure of the post office, citing the historical significance of the building, the importance of the post office’s operations to the community, and the vast opportunities for revenue-generating uses of the office’s “excess” space. A thoughtful and sincere exploration of creative lease agreements or hybridization of services at the Richmond Main Post Office could help generate vital funds and solve the economic concerns cited by USPS.
The lack of transparent information about the evaluation and decision-making process around the proposal to relocate/close the Richmond Main Post Office is of great concern to the community. Other than citing the facility’s square footage, USPS representatives at the Public Hearing were not able to provide any detailed information about how the USPS determined that this post office is “in excess.” No data or sales analysis, exact determining factors, or specific details about the criteria used in the review and decision-making process was provided.