USPS takes Camas post office off the market

Downtown leaders are happy to see the 1939 building remain a post office

After being on the market for more than four years, it looks like the Camas post office will not be sold after all.

Peter Haas, of the United States Postal Service’s corporate communications department, said in a recent email that the building is no longer for sale.

“The Camas Post Office facility has been pulled off the market,” he said. “Retail operations will continue to be offered to customers at the current location. We have no further details to share at this time.”

In December 2009, the USPS announced that the downtown Camas property at 440 N.E. Fifth Ave., would be put on the real estate market.

It was slated for consolidation because of its close proximity to another post office about 1.4 miles away at 2455 S.E. Eighth Ave., which is referred to as the “Camas carrier annex.”

The downtown Camas building was one of 90 “under-utilized” commercial properties and 36 land parcels USPS listed with a commercial real estate broker CB Richard Ellis, in an effort to cut costs and generate revenue.

At the time, a USPS representative said it didn’t make sense to operate two separate locations that are in close proximity to one another.

The property was most recently listed at $430,000.

During the past four years, several buyers seemed to express interest in the building — a one-story colonial style brick structure, with a full basement and topped with a wooden cupola. A “sale pending” notice was even posted on the real estate sign in February 2011. But for one reason or another, a purchase was never fully accomplished.

Greg Goforth, a local real estate sales agent with Windemere/Crest Realty, said the owners of Washougal Brewing Co. LLC made a cash offer to buy the post office building hoping to turn it into a brewery. In the end, the sale fell through and business owners Mark Zech and Walt LeDoux ended up purchasing the building at 339 N.E. Cedar St., and opening Mill City Brew Werks.

Goforth described the process as frustrating.

“When you are dealing with the USPS, anything can happen. I can’t put my finger on [one thing that went wrong],” he said. “There were so many post offices for sale as part of that initiative that I think our little town of Camas just got lost in the shuffle.”

If the downtown post office had been sold, all services would have been moved to existing space in the Camas carrier annex.

Tucked behind Gunderson Les Schwab Tire Center in Camas, the carrier annex first opened in 1999 and is currently used primarily as a home base where carriers pick up mail for their home delivery routes, and for customers to pick up packages.

“Think about how many years people have been going to the downtown post office,” Goforth said. “It was ridiculous to think that people would commute over to Eighth Avenue. I think everyone is quite pleased that it gets to remain in downtown Camas.”

The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been open since 1939 when it was built as part of a Works Progress Administration project. Inside, there is a WPA mural painted in 1941.

Downtown Camas Association Executive Director Carrie Schulstad said retaining the building’s use as a post office will have a positive impact on the area.

“People coming downtown to do mailing services or get their mail at the post office box often stay downtown to get coffee, shop, have lunch, and do their banking and other business,” she said. “Plus, you always see someone you know at the post office. Which is always a good thing for community connections.”

Goforth, who is also a member of the DCA Board, said he now wonders about USPS’s plans to maintain the post office into the future.

“The building needs some work,” he said. “If we can maintain the status of the building and keep it up to continue to make it a visual landmark for Camas, it can really be an asset. Let’s use the post office as another reason to come to downtown Camas.”