By Harry Kane
The United States Postal Service building in Union Square will close their doors and a smaller, nearby shop will replace the traditional post office with a downsized storefront. This transition has not begun yet, but once renovations on the new site are finished, the modern Post Office will be relocated to 16 Bow St.
A proposal for a special permit to modify the 16 Bow St. building for Post Office use was recommended to the Planning Board at the August 8 public hearing. The city approved the proposal, but one particular issue is still pending: signage variation. Somerville wants to have a wooden painted sign instead of a back-lite box sign. This decision will have to await a determination from the United States Postal Service as to whether this deviation from its usual signage is acceptable.
The current post office at 237 Washington St., which opened in 1935, is 13,532 sq. feet. The historic building will be replaced by a 1438 sq. foot storefront space at 16 Bow St.
This project has been reviewed by the Massachusetts Historic Society and the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission. It has received a “no adverse effect by both parties,” said Robert N. Macleod, architect for this project.
The front of the renovated building on Bow St. will have a recessed entryway, with handicapped accessibility. It will offer a double entry into the post office, one into the box lobby and the other into the service lobby. The service lobby will be closed outside of service hours, while the box lobby would offer extended hours.
There will be two service desks and plenty of P.O. boxes. But it is not a location where there will be mail carriers. Many of the main operations will be moved to a Post Office in Chelsea.
The exterior renovation will include a small loading platform at the rear of the building, which will help with deliveries.
“If I had my way I’d keep the post office where it is,” said Ward 3 Alderman Thomas F. Taylor. “I’m concerned a little bit about traffic, but I’ll wait to see what happens.”