It’s hard to imagine anyone being more excited about the Gainesville post office relocating from its Green Street location than Brenau University President Ed Schrader.
The decision, which Schrader learned of Monday, March 12, opens the chance for his school to purchase the property and integrate it into the adjacent Brenau campus. In January, Schrader told a public meeting concerning a possible post office relocation that Brenau has “long coveted” the space.
He now thinks it will be at least 18 months to two years before Brenau could move in, but he’s already excited about the possibilities for the school’s teacher education program.
“For me, (after) waiting for it for 15 years, that’s light speed,” Schrader said Thursday, March 15.
The U.S. Postal Service, which made the decision, hasn’t yet chosen a new location for the post office, though Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said it should be a 1.5-acre site within 3 miles of the current location.
The postal service is looking for a 5,000-square-foot retail space with post office boxes to be built by a private investor and leased to the postal service, Dunagan said.
According to the letter informing the city of the decision, the postal service is moving its delivery operations from Green Street to another nearby post office.
“This move would leave the US Postal Service with an oversized, inefficient space,” according to the letter. “Therefore, the US Postal Service will be relocating its retail operations to a right-sized facility.”
The mayor credited U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and his district director, Joel Katz, for pushing up the speed of the post office decision.
The post office on Green Street opened in May 1967. Within only a few years and in the decades since, Gainesville officials have favored the post office’s move to help alleviate Green Street traffic. The Gainesville City Commission in December 1975 voted unanimously to ask the federal government to move it, and the issue has been revisited numerous times since.
Collins, 51, grew up in Gainesville and has seen the traffic problems firsthand for years. But even more so, he said he wanted to ensure the post office’s retail operations would remain close to the current spot. He sees the postal service decision as a “very positive step” on both fronts.
“I think it’s going to be a definite improvement for businesses that use the post office,” Collins told The Times on Thursday.
Schrader said he would like to close off the Green Street access to the building’s parking lot once Brenau can purchase the property. The university then would renovate the space to make room for classes, offices and research areas for teacher education. With the growth in that department, including among international students, Schrader is eager to move forward.
“We literally could use it tomorrow,” Schrader said.
Green Street post office timeline
May 1967: The post office opens on Green Street.
October 1975: The building housing the post office is sold to a group of investors, including W.L. Norton Sr., W.L. Norton Jr., Frank I. Norton and David G. Mercer. The price was listed as $118,000.
December 1975: The Gainesville City Commission voted unanimously to ask the post office to relocate the branch.
January 1976: A Times editorial states, “Something must be done soon about the traffic problem at Gainesville Post Office.”
May 1977: A Times editorial calls for relocating the post office because of traffic concerns. It states: “The post office was badly located in the first place and ought to be moved.”
October 1984: Gainesville commissioners consider a plan by local developers to build a new site and relocate the post office to an area at Church and Sycamore streets and College Avenue.
November 1984: A Times editorial says, “Post office needs relocating — the sooner the better.”
June 1987: The post office develops a plan for a back entrance to the building to ease traffic concerns.
March 1989: The postal service considers expanding the post office building, including buying or leasing a bank building at Green and Sycamore streets.
January 1990: A postal facility on the west side of town in the Spring Road Shopping Center off Browns Bridge Road is gutted by fire.
March 1991: The postal service announces it has purchased the Green Street building, ending discussion of moving the branch for the time being.
June 2008: A preliminary plan was floated to use funds from the next special purpose local option sales tax to construct a new post office in Gainesville.
July 2013: The U.S. Postal Service said it didn’t have any plans to move its Green Street branch — a longtime traffic hot spot that was being revisited in Gainesville’s transportation master plan.
December 2017: The postal service reached out to the city of Gainesville proposing the possibility of moving the post office off Green Street.
January 2018: A public meeting was held discussing the proposal to move the post office off Green Street. Brenau University President Ed Schrader says the school has “long coveted” the building.
March 2018: The postal service informs the city of Gainesville it intends to move the post office. A new location has not yet been determined.
Source: Times files