No more downtown post office for Kent? Office is up for sale

Post office retail associate Jim Kohler weighs and prepares Crystal Wright's letters for delivery Wednesday at the downtown Kent post office. The U.S. Postal Service is considering selling the facility

Post office retail associate Jim Kohler weighs and prepares Crystal Wright's letters for delivery Wednesday at the downtown Kent post office. The U.S. Postal Service is considering selling the facility

Customers downtown looking to make a quick stop at their local post office may find themselves heading up the hill.

The U.S. Postal Service’s plans to sell its Kent facility on West Gowe could mean a Kent downtown without a post office for the first time in more than a century.

For nearby neighbor Victor Gordon, who is disabled and walks with a cane, that means a new inconvenience when he needs to send off some mail.

“I live in the neighborhood because I’m disabled; I can get to everything,” he said Wednesday, as a constant, if thin, stream of people made their way into the mailing center.

“Without it, I lose convenience,” he said, adding that he would have to take buses to get to the facility on East Hill that would become Kent’s primary post office.

Convenience or not, the downtown facility is one of many around the country on a list of possible closures, a cost-savings measure for the U.S. Postal Service.

“The Postal Service is looking at virtually all of its retail units around the country,” said Postal Service spokesperson Ernie Swanson. “Kent downtown is on that list.”

According to Kent Postmaster Al Mark, the proposal to possibly close the 12,000-square-foot facility is part of a “right-sizing” proposal that would consolidate the Postal Service’s local outlets to save money.

“We’re struggling as a company,” Mark said, adding that no carriers work out of the downtown building, which is simply a retail and post-office-box facility.

“We’re not clearing our overhead everyday and no business can do that on a daily basis,” Mark said. “It’s a losing proposition for us.”

Swanson echoed the sentiment, saying financial issues are the underlying reasons for the potential sale.

“We’re doing lots of cost-cutting measures,” he said.

Swanson said the Postal Service hopes to retain a retail presence and for that purpose, will consider leasing 2,000 square feet of the building it currently uses from the future owner.

“That would be the preferred choice,” he said, of maintaining the post office’s current presence.

For customers downtown, the word most often used was “inconvenience.”

Mark Stagg, of Stagg’s Coin Shop, uses the post office several times a week and said losing it also would reflect on the downtown.

“I think every good town should have a post office,” he said.

Valley Bank Vice President and Kent Downtown Partnership Board Member Mike Miller said the post office is a destination for people coming downtown who also stop and shop or eat at one of the local restaurants.

“I think it’s critical that the retail post office stay in the downtown area,” he said. “It would be a significant loss of traffic.”

Rudy Kantu, a customer, agreed.

“I think most of the businesses would suffer,” he said. “They’ve already got enough problems.”

The final decision is yet to be made on the future of the facility, but the post office is accepting offers on the building, either with or without the current postal facility staying in place.

Swanson said the decision to proceed with the sale falls to the Seattle District Manager and a decision to proceed with the sale is expected before the summer.

NOTE: The comment period ends today, May 21. E-mail your comments to Ken Lieu at the Western Facilities Service Office at

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