VENICE — A local mail processing center could be the latest victim of the economic downturn.
Facing an overall decline in customer volume from the advances in mail technology and more recently exacerbated by the recession, the United State Postal Service (USPS) has begun re-evaluating its operations, including looking into consolidating various facilities to improve cost savings and efficiencies.
On the chopping block locally is a mail processing center at 313 Grand Blvd. in Venice, which serves as the annex to the main branch post office located just across the street.
USPS officials recently began seeking interested buyers for the property, hiring Grubb & Ellis to field bids from candidates.
A representative for Grubb & Ellis did not respond to a request seeking comment.
Joseph Harrison, spokesman for the USPS Los Angeles District, said the annex was selected because it will not have a direct impact on customer service, noting that the location does not have a retail function.
If the property is sold, employees at the facility will be transferred to other branches. Neither the property value nor the number of bids received to date were available.
Bids will be accepted until Sept. 15.
The location of the annex is considered to be a prime piece of real estate, located just off Windward Circle and steps from the beach.
The Venice Neighborhood Council recently held a workshop exploring potential uses for the site, including building a park and a community center. The council took an official position to support keeping property for public uses.
“We hope any developer who comes in there would retain or make part of the land … available to be used for public purposes and they would not only come to the VNC, but would come to the community as a whole,” Mike Newhouse, the president of the VNC, said.
While the USPS review of branches and facilities has received a great deal of press recently, the agency has for a while maintained a fluid list of locations that are placed under consideration for consolidation, Harrison said. There are currently no Santa Monica locations that have been identified for review.
“We are continuing to evaluate … our operations to best utilize our facilities, our manpower and to make the postal service run effectively and efficiently,” he said.
The USPS also recently began reviewing traffic volumes at mail collection boxes, possibly eliminating those that remain largely empty. No mail boxes have been removed so far in Santa Monica.
“The reason we do that is if there’s a collection point that’s not being utilized, we can look at the potential of removing it to save time and fuel,” Harrison said. “To have a person continually passing by a collection point that is not being used is an ineffective utilization of manpower.”