The United States Postal Service has started its search for a new site for the White Flint Mall post office.
That’s about all that is certain after a public meeting on Wednesday with USPS real estate specialist Rick Hancock, who is tasked with finding possible sites for a 1,200-square-foot retail post office.
Also certain is the post office, which is in the White Flint Mall, must move from its existing location. Lerner Enterprises wants to tear down the mall and redevelop the site. Hancock said the agency’s lease with the mall ends May 31, 2014.
The remaining details are unclear.
The post office today is in the 20895 zip code, a Kensington zip that is split in two parts around the incorporated town of Garrett Park (20896). The smaller, westernmost part of the zip code reaches to the area around White Flint Mall, which also happens to be part of the White Flint Sector as designated by Montgomery County and the Planning Department.
The rest of the White Flint Sector is in Rockville/North Bethesda zip code 20852.
Before Hancock began his presentation, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee decided to pursue a separate zip code for the White Flint Sector, similar to how Fairfax County won approval from the USPS in 2011 to combine two zip codes of McLean and Vienna into one for redeveloping Tysons.
A staff member from Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s office said it should be possible to set up a meeting with USPS officials.
Hancock made it clear from the start he wasn’t the official to talk to about redrawing zip codes. It’s unclear if USPS is aware of the boom in housing units, office space and retail planned in the next 20 to 30 years for the White Flint Sector and if that would even effect the process of finding a new post office location.
Hancock couldn’t say whether the newly located post office would still be in the 20895 zip.
“As close to where we’re at now as economically viable,” said Hancock, when asked if the post office could change zip codes.
He said White Flint Mall indicated it would like the post office out sooner than next May. Francine Waters from Lerner Enterprises said that isn’t true and the mall wants the post office to remain on its property.
But Hancock said USPS isn’t looking for any sort of temporary set-up for the new location. USPS and its real estate contractor are looking for a five-year lease with a five-year extension option, which could provide some flexibility for the post office to move back to the redeveloped White Flint Mall site when it’s complete.
Image via Zip Code Map