BANGOR, Maine — The downtown post office will move temporarily during renovations at the former District Court building on Hammond Street, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.
Once renovations at the former District Court building have been completed, the post office will move its retail operation to the site at 73 Hammond St., Thomas Rizzo, spokesman for the Northern New England District of the U.S. Postal Service, said Wednesday.
Rizzo did not say where the post office would relocate temporarily.
Penobscot County commissioners, however, said Tuesday it was their understanding that the temporary quarters would be in the Broadway Shopping Center, 649 Broadway, between Hannaford Bros. supermarket and the Empire Beauty School.
Post office officials must vacate the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Harlow Street by May 1 because of a planned $53 million renovation there. Details about how the federal stimulus funds appropriated for that project will be spent have not been released.
“The necessary renovations won’t be completed in time for us to move directly into our new site immediately after we vacate our present location,” Rizzo said. “We are negotiating to secure a site for a temporary setting so that our customers can continue to receive first class service in Bangor.”
Efforts to reach Inland Property Management in Connecticut, which manages the shopping center, were unsuccessful Thursday.
In addition to the post office, the offices of the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross also will move into the old District Court space. The Red Cross, which is separate from the organization’s blood collection operation at 900B Hammond St., now is located on Target Industrial Circle off outer Hammond Street.
“The former courthouse is a great location for our chapter because it’s next to Penobscot County’s Emergency Management Agency,” located on the third floor of the Penobscot County Courthouse, Shannon Slavin, executive director for the Pine Tree Chapter, said Thursday.
Slavin’s office handles disaster relief, service to members of the armed forces, and health and safety matters.
“Our current location is too small for our operation,” Slavin said. “Now we must go off-site to offer CPR and disaster relief training classes. On Hammond Street, we’ll be able to have a state-of-the-art training room.”
The Red Cross will rent about 4,500 square feet of space closest to Hammond Street. The post office will use about 6,000 square feet at the end of the building nearest the Penobscot County Jail.
Slavin said she expects her office to move this summer.
Although Penobscot County and the Postal Service have not yet signed a lease, County Administrator William Collins said Tuesday that he expects the post office to move in within four months of an agreement being signed.
Renovations to the District Court building are estimated to cost $100,000, Collins said. Rental income from the Red Cross and the Postal Service are expected to generate more than $100,000 a year.
The Bangor Planning Board on March 24 approved a site plan for the former District Court site after initially turning down the request the previous month.
“We’re excited that the planning board voted to approve the site plan and very much looking forward to having the Postal Service in the building,” Collins said Tuesday. “This is going to be very beneficial to Penobscot County and county taxpayers.”
Much of the District Court building has been empty since November, when the Superior and District courts were consolidated in the new Penobscot Judicial Center on Exchange Street. The Maine judiciary paid the county $140,000 in rent a year for the space.
Maine Probation offices have remained and plan to remain on the ground floor of the former District Court building, which faces Franklin Street.
The current Bangor post office has been located in the federal building since the 1960s. In recent years, mail-processing duties moved from that space to the U.S. Postal Service’s processing facility in Hampden.