Have you ever passed by an old, abandoned Post Office? If you answered yes, you’re probably not the only one. Did you know there are over 1600 empty old Post Office buildings across the country? It’s true. These buildings are just sitting there, getting no use, collecting dust year after year. In fact, a 2017 report by the USPS Office of Inspector General shows that these buildings account for over 1.2 million square feet of excess space. That’s a lot of dead weight in a huge real estate portfolio, if you ask me.
Why Are There So Many Empty Old Post Office Buildings?
Wear and tear. Technological advancements. More efficient delivery routes. The Internet. All of these are simple answers to why so many empty old Post Office buildings pepper the nation’s landscape. The general passing of time is another big reason. It’s important to keep in mind that the US Postal Service has been around since Benjamin Franklin became our country’s first Postmaster General in 1775. Some Post Office buildings were constructed as far back as the early 1800’s, and they just couldn’t hold up as time went on (200+ years is a pretty long time, after all).
The development of infrastructure also played a huge role in Post Office buildings being shut down. As our country’s highway system underwent explosive growth in the mid-1900’s, newly-constructed roads circumvented Post Offices and directed traffic away from them altogether. With not enough traffic to bring in business, these overlooked locations had no choice but to close their doors.
Want to see some abandoned US Post Offices? Check out this list that Urbanist put out. There are some pretty eerie looking locations in there, including one in the Mojave Desert ghost town of Kelso. If that doesn’t look like it could be straight out of a Stephen King novel, I don’t know what could.
Why Hasn’t USPS Done Anything About It?
At the end of the day, there’s a multitude of reasons why there so many abandoned Post Office buildings across the country. However, we think the real question here is: why has it taken so long to consider doing something with these empty structures? Whatever the reasoning may be, hopefully starting a dialogue can help spur some action.
Repurposing Old Post Office Buildings Can Generate Revenue and Uplift Communities
When determining how to use this all of this space, there are lots of routes USPS can take. An obvious solution would be to attempt selling them to private investors or corporations to generate immediate revenue. Other options include potentially leasing the space to retailers or restaurants to generate revenue, as well as creating community centers for disadvantaged areas. From where I’m standing, there doesn’t seem to be a reason why USPS shouldn’t at least try all of the above. The best part is: none of these solutions would affect any core Postal Service operations, since these buildings aren’t being used anyway.
Can you think of some good ways to make use of all this excess real estate? Leave a comment and let us know!