Lehigh Valley

Preservationists fear Allentown's post office could be bulldozed

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Could an iconic Allentown building meet the wrecking ball?

That's what some preservationists are fearing as the post office considers selling its location at 5th and Hamilton.

"It's an iconic building in terms of Allentown's streetscape. It's a very high style art deco building," described Lauren Golden of the Allentown Preservation League.

Allentown's post office was born to Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s. Nearly 90 years later its death could come from a 21st century cost-cutting deal by the postal service.

"The current building is 98,000 square feet and they really only have about a 5,000 square-foot need," Golden said.

The post office is considering selling the building and moving to a smaller nearby location, and if possible, leasing back a small portion for retail. 

However, Golden says if the sale goes through there is little to stop a developer from buying it and tearing it down.

She's pushing for public support in the form of a write-in campaign to save the building if it's sold.

"What the post office is asking for is public comment. They are going to be making a community decision. They want to hear from the community," Golden said.

But the communications manager of Allentown says before any demolition would occur, there must be approval from the Zoning Hearing Board regarding specific zoning laws.

Michael Surell, who lives nearby and comes every other day, shared his thoughts.

"It's right here in downtown, courthouse across the street, my wife can come, it's close," he said.

In a move that would surely be appreciated by Roosevelt, Golden says comments must come the old fashioned way.

"You can't email it. You can't Facebook, nothing on the internet. You have to buy a stamp at the post office and mail it," Golden said.

This is the second go around for the building. The post office discussed selling it back in 2006.

Councilman Daryl Hendricks says there was talk of turning it into the police department.

The county was also interested in buying it. However, 12 years later the county says there is no interest from them.

"It's possible [this could become a white elephant for the city] but we have to have better minds to determine what it could be used for," Hendricks said.

The public comment period lasts until April 27. Hendricks says depending on the post office's decision, council will discuss possible options.

Public comments should be sent to:

Sandra A. Rybicki, Real Estate Specialist
Real Estate and Assets
PO Box 667180
Dallas, TX 75266-7180

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