Baltimore businessman hopes to buy post office He says he has signed contract on building, seeks possible tenants

September 01, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore businessman is looking to buy the former post office building in Westminster -- a site that has been identified as vital to the downtown's economic well- being.

Walter L. Patton said yesterday he has a contract with the U.S. Postal Service for the recently vacated Main Street property and is interviewing possible tenants.

Patton, who owns two buildings in the Baltimore area -- a truck terminal with a small shop in Jessup and an office and warehouse complex in Elkridge -- would not say who the possible tenants are but described them as "diverse in type."

"All I can say at this point is that we're working with a couple of potential users," said Patton, who would not disclose the amount he offered for the site.

He and a few other investors are assessing the physical condition of the 1930s brick building at 83 E. Main St. If inspectors determine that the building is in good shape, Patton said he will go forward with the deal. He did not know how long it would take to assess the structure.

The property has been listed since July with David L. Goldbloom, vice president of Erwin L. Greenberg Commercial Corp., a Baltimore brokerage firm.

Westminster officials said they would be pleased to see stores or offices in the building.

"We think the building has excellent potential," said R. Douglas Mathias, executive director of Greater Westminster Development Corp. "We're hoping a really good plan comes along for that building."

The old post office, completed in 1934, was among four properties listed as key to a healthy downtown in a consultants' report to the city in 1994. The other three sites -- the firehouse, old J. C. Penney building and Farmers Supply Co. building -- have been or are being redeveloped.

As Patton moves forward with his assessment of the old post office, city officials and the Postal Service continue their search for an appropriate place to house a satellite postal counter downtown, where customers can mail packages and buy stamps.

Officials first sought proposals in December to operate a retail service on a contract basis. Three bids were received but all were "too high," postal officials said.

They sought bids again -- twice. But no agreement has been reached.

"We have sent out a request for bids three times in the past year, but we've been unable to attract a reasonable offer," Irene Lericos, manager of corporate relations at the Postal Service Center in Columbia, said last week.

Postal officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"It's disappointing," Mathias said of the difficulty officials have had trying to secure postal service downtown. "We don't know why we haven't been able to find an acceptable site."

Customers must use the new post office at Englar Park, a $2.7 million facility that opened July 20, to buy stamps and send packages.

Letters can be dropped in collection boxes at City Hall and in front of the old post office.

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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