BERKELEY -- It's official. The downtown post office is for sale.
The sudden appearance of the historic building on the website of real estate firm CBRE over the weekend surprised and angered Councilman Jesse Arreguin. "In October they talked about entering into dialogue," he said. "They're clearly acting in bad faith."
Arreguin pointed to an Oct. 1 letter to the City Council from the U.S. Postal Service, giving the council until mid-November to comment on whether the sale would have a negative consequence on the preservation of the historic building. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires consultation with affected parties.
"The postal service trusts that the parties will use this additional time to work on a mutually acceptable solution," the letter said.
"I had the impression that they had to hold off until the end of the comment period," Arreguin said. The council has scheduled a discussion on that question for its Oct. 15 meeting.
Arreguin said the city attorney and outside legal minds will be looking at whether the postal service has violated the law. The council has already voted to join a National Trust for Historic Preservation lawsuit that is yet to be filed. "We need to act quickly to get an injunction (against an eventual sale)," Arreguin said.
CBRE real estate agent Kathy Kelleher declined to comment on the sale or sales price, which is not listed on the company's website, referring this newspaper to Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz, who said the Postal Service does not have a listing price, but is taking bids at this time. It will complete the sale only after historic preservation covenants have been determined, he said.
Postal service Contracting Officer Tom Russell, who wrote the Oct. 1 letter, was out of the office and unavailable for comment.
Residents working to save the post office planned to meet Wednesday to talk about next steps.