May 26, 2018
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Bangor post office completes move to temporary location on Broadway

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The post office Sunday afternoon completed its move from Harlow Street to its temporary location in the Broadway Shopping Center next to Hannaford supermarket.

It will reopen for business at 8 a.m. Tuesday at 647 Broadway.

Mail delivery will not be affected.

The downtown post office, which has been located in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building for more than 40 years, closed its lobby at 1 p.m. Saturday and workers began moving banks of post office boxes to the shopping center.

The post office has been located at 202 Harlow St. since 1968. Before that, it was housed in what is now Bangor City Hall.

The post office is expected to move to its new permanent space in the former Bangor District Courthouse, 73 Hammond St., in the fall. The move coincides with the expiration of its lease with the U.S. General Services Administration.

Patrons on Saturday morning bustled in and out of the building picking up mail, purchasing stamps and mailing packages. Many said the move to the shopping center would be an improvement over the current location.

“Parking out front has always been an issue, so whatever we can do to get more parking is good,” Joseph Baldacci, a Bangor lawyer, said as he picked up mail from his post office box.

Gerry Thibodeau lives in Brewer but has an office in downtown Bangor. Thibodeau said he was pleased the move was taking place over the holiday weekend.

“I can get my mail on Tuesday morning, so that’s pretty good,” he said of how long it would take for the move to be completed.

Concerns about parking and traffic at the building were a hot topic more than 30 years ago when the post office opened its doors on Feb. 26, 1968.

“There have been many persons who have criticized the chosen location for the new building from the time it was first proposed,” reporter Ed Matheson wrote in a Bangor Daily News story published two weeks before the post office opened. “All of them said that traffic and parking would provide enough headaches to cover the city’s population.”

Apprehensions about parking and traffic patterns at the former District Court Building were expressed in February when the Bangor Planning Board rejected the initial proposed site plan. The board approved a revised plan on March 24 after concerns were addressed.

Although Penobscot County and the U.S. Postal Service have not yet signed a lease, County Administrator William Collins has said 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 Postal Service and other occupants is expected to generate more than $100,000 a year.

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 a year in rent for the space.

The cost of renovating the Broadway storefront, which over the years has housed a dollar store and a drugstore, is not yet known, Mark Hanscom, post office activation coordinator, said Saturday morning.

He said the boxes were moved Saturday and the remaining equipment, stamps, postage meters, counters and other items were moved Sunday, he said Sunday. Workers were scheduled to finish setting up equipment today in the temporary location.

The post office moved from what is now Bangor City Hall to the Harlow Street location when the federal building was completed at a cost of $4.5 million. It was not named for former Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith until the mid-1980s.

At the time it was built, mail sorting and processing were conducted behind the counter and lobby. In recent years, those activities were moved to the Postal Service’s processing facility in Hampden.

Post office hours of operation at its new location will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday for the service window and 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily for the lobby.

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