Citing some community concerns regarding the proposed sale of the Venice Post Office, Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Venice) has called for the U.S. Postal Service to supply evidence of intended protections for the historic building and access to a storied artwork inside.
The Postal Service has received authorization for its plan to relocate retail operations from the Venice Post Office building at 1601 Main St. approximately 400 feet away to the carrier annex property at 313 Grand Blvd. Following the relocation, the federal agency plans to close and sell the post office building, which was constructed under the Work Projects Administration and contains a 1941 mural by renowned artist Edward Biberman on its inside wall.
Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher has said that in the event of a sale of the Main Street structure, the historic characteristics will be maintained through covenants conveyed to the buyer as an attachment to the building’s deed. Maher told The Argonaut that the agency has sold other historic buildings to private parties in the past that had covenants attached to them.
In an Aug. 11 letter to Linda Gilbert of the service’s Office of Government Relations, Hahn said that copies of covenants supposedly used to preserve other historic structures have been promised to residents but none were provided. She asked for a plan in writing that “identifies the legal process that your office intends to use to protect the post office for posterity.”
Hahn additionally wrote that the relocation to the annex site would significantly impact residents living around the property by rerouting thousands of vehicle trips and the related parking demand. As such, Hahn requested an analysis of the traffic and parking load, as well as any mitigation measures.
“While I appreciate the financial realities driving the Postal Service’s proposed relocation, its decision must include palpable measures to truly preserve the old post office for posterity and to protect residents from significant increases in traffic and parking demand in what is already a highly congested area due to the international popularity of Venice Beach,” Hahn wrote.
Maher said the Office of Government Relations has received the letter and is yet to respond to Hahn’s requests, but he noted that covenants are established on a “case by case basis.” Covenants for historic buildings are specific to each property that goes on the market, and because the Venice Post Office has not been put up for sale, no covenants have yet been created, he said.
The office may choose to provide Hahn with copies of other properties’ deeds but they will be specific to those structures, he said. When the Venice Post Office is put on the market, Maher has said the Postal Service will work with the state preservation office to establish the covenants as part of the building’s deed.
Hahn said that in the absence of a clear plan for preservation and a proper traffic/parking analysis, she urges the federal entity to grant an appeal of the relocation plan.