Daily Business Report — Special Report
Grim News For the Grim Avenue Post Office
By Manny Cruz
Nearly three years after the Postal Regulatory Commission placed the tiny North Park Post Office on a potential closure list, the second shoe has finally dropped. The U.S. Postal Service has announced that the office at 3791 Grim Avenue will be closed on July 2 and its functions will be consolidated with the Hillcrest Post Office at 3911 Cleveland Ave. the next day. The Postal Service advised North Park postal customers that they can do their postal business in Hillcrest or at several “nearby” post offices, including ones in City Heights, Normal Heights, Mission Valley and in Downtown San Diego.
“We’re in big financial trouble,” said Eve Jackson, spokeswoman for the Postal Service in San Diego, Palm Springs and San Bernardino. “We’re losing $7 billion this year and we lost $8.5 billion last year. Our mail volume is declining and people’s habits are changing.”
The announcement came as a surprise to some North Park residents. Nikki Berdy, president of the North Park Community Association, said she assumed the Grim Avenue office would remain open because nothing had been heard from the Postal Service since the potential closure list was announced in August 2009.
Liz Studebaker, executive director of North Park Main Street, expressed dismay at the decision. “The post office closure will leave a gaping hole in service for the North Park community, both commercial and residential,” said Studebaker. “This is comparable to losing a library or fire station. Our community will be at a disadvantage as a result.”
North Park Main Street’s board of directors joined a chorus of pleas from local politicians, residents and others to keep the Grim Avenue office open, including this entreaty by District 3 Councilman Todd Gloria to Congresswoman Susan Davis in 2009: “North Park has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years that has seen renewed investment in the neighborhood and a booming arts and culture district. While small businesses and first-time home buyers are investing in this community, it would send a terrible message for the Postal Service to walk away from North Park.”
The U.S. Postal Services leases the Grim Avenue building and parking lot from the Banthien Family Trust of Northern California. The Banthien family has owned the building since 1984. That lease expires in 2014, according to Barbara Bantien, co-trustee of the family trust. She said the Postal Service has hired a broker from Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial to try to find someone to sublease the post office building for the balance of that lease.