At the model home for the newest neighborhood inside the Beltline, an ornate black mailbox sits atop a post at the curb.
But homebuyers in the Oakwood North subdivision won’t be getting one of their own. After developers started work on the community, the U.S. Postal Service pulled the plug on what’s been a standard amenity: curbside mail delivery.
In Raleigh, according to city planning administrator Travis Crane, “the post office doesn’t permit individual mailboxes anymore for new residential developments.”
That means owners of the $350,000 homes at Oakwood North will get their mail the same way apartment dwellers do: by walking or driving to a mail kiosk at the entrance to the neighborhood.
It’s the latest cost-cutting measure for the cash-strapped Postal Service. “There is significant cost savings in initiating all new delivery addresses with an efficient delivery method,” Postal Service spokeswoman Monica Coachman said.
Coachman says no estimates are available yet for the savings, but cluster mailboxes represent a “substantial cost difference” from curbside delivery – which is cheaper than front-door delivery common at older homes.
The “default mode” of delivery in new neighborhoods throughout North Carolina will now be cluster mailboxes. The change doesn’t apply to existing homes. “When notified of plans to construct new residences, the Postal Service will review the area in question and make a decision based on what is efficient and appropriate for that area,” Coachman said.
KB Homes, which is building Oakwood North, has already notified homebuyers and prospective homebuyers, spokeswoman Cara Kane said. “We continue to still have a very positive response in our Oakwood North community with great sales since opening earlier this year,” she wrote in an email.
But while the first house in Oakwood North is nearly complete, the cluster mailboxes haven’t been installed yet. Oakwood North and two other neighborhoods had to obtain a special permit from the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday to install the boxes next to the street.
“This is a rather new thing we’re trying to navigate,” Crane said, adding that future developers will need to make room on their property for mailboxes.
At Oakwood North and another subdivision that secured mailbox permits this week – Wimbledon off Falls of Neuse Road – no residents moved in before the mail delivery change was announced.
In Cary, however, new homeowners waited for weeks to get their first mail. It never came, and their subdivision didn’t have cluster mailboxes. They’ve been driving up to 20 minutes to pick up mail from a post office.