Clock's ticking for Five Points P.O.

Staff WriterJuly 28, 2011 

— The little brick post office on Fairview Street has 140 days to prove itself.

With a 13 percent revenue decline since 2007, the Five Points post office is again under review for closure.

The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday that the site has joined downtown's Century station on the chopping block as officials monitor revenue and operating costs for the next 140 days.

"It's no secret that the Postal Service is in a dire financial situation," spokeswoman Monica Robbs said. "We are doing things internally that are within our control to minimize cost and help us operate more efficiently."

The two locations are part of a review of 3,653 retail post offices around the country - more than a tenth of the Postal Service's retail outlets - because of declining revenues as more customers handle their mailing needs online.

For those who prefer a physical location, however, the news comes as a shock.

Area resident Elizabeth Connell lamented the station's possible loss when she stopped by to mail letters early Wednesday afternoon. Losing the friendliness and convenience of the station also would take away some of the area's small-town neighborhood feel, Connell said.

"I'd much rather go here than to a sterile mall," Connell said. "It's going to end up that you have to drive across town to get your needs met."

Business owners worried

Owners of the businesses clustered around the Five Points station say it's invaluable for attracting potential customers.

"All I can say is, rats!" said Helene Kelly, co-owner of Antiques at Five Points.

But the station saw an $80,000 decline in revenue from 2007 to 2010, Robbs said. The post office box occupancy rate is below 64 percent; the Postal Service shoots for 80 percent or higher.

The Five Points store is the third Raleigh location to face closure this year. The Crabtree Valley station closed in June. The Fayetteville Street location was set to close this month but got a reprieve after public outcry in May. Its fate will be decided in November.

The Five Points station almost shut its doors in 2009, but residents rallied to keep it open.

This time, residents will be given an opportunity for public comment after the review period, Robbs said.

If the Five Points station does shut down, the neighborhood may have other options. Many of the closed post offices may be replaced by what the service is calling Village Post Offices in which postal services are offered in local stores, libraries or government offices.

Terry Henderson, who has lived six blocks from the station for 24 years, isn't concerned about a closure.

"It's an awkward little post office," Henderson said, noting scant parking and inconvenient hours. The station is closed weekends and from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays.

"I'm not sentimental about closing a post office," Henderson said. "It's just a business."

chelsea.kellner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4802

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