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Bustling post office moving

The Temple Terrace branch is scheduled to open Nov. 1 in Terrace Plaza.

Published October 3, 2004

TEMPLE TERRACE - After a long presence across the street from Corpus Christi Catholic Church, the local post office off 56th Street is moving down the road.

A new branch is scheduled to open Nov. 1, U.S. Postal Service officials said Friday. The city, which owns the site, and the Postal Service signed the lease agreement last week. "The ink is still wet," Postal Service spokesman Gary Sawtelle said Friday.

The relocation will take the bustling branch, with its 2,600 post office boxes, to the former Buddy's Home Furnishings store in Terrace Plaza, off 56th Street. In addition to providing customers with a more convenient site near the Postal Service annex, the agreement could have important long-term consequences for the city's redevelopment efforts.

Terrace Plaza is at the southeast corner of Bullard Parkway and 56th, which city officials envision as the site of a $150-million mixed-use development consisting of homes and businesses. But a permanent Postal Service facility could become part of a broader plan to create a town center by transferring public buildings, including City Hall, to the site.

The 21-month lease coincides with the anticipated start of construction. Kent Moyer, customer service manager at the branch and the annex, said the Postal Service is open to the possibility of staying there if the project becomes a reality.

City and postal officials "definitely want to see if we can work into that redevelopment project," Moyer said.

"The more people that go down there, the better," City Council member Frank Chillura said. "I think it would go hand-in-hand with everything this council is trying to accomplish."

The Temple Terrace branch is one of the busiest in the area, pulling in customers from Thonotosassa, New Tampa and local business parks, as well as the city of 22,000 residents. In terms of activity, it ranks second only to the postal facility at Tampa International Airport, Sawtelle said.

Rumors about the move have been swirling for weeks, said Cheri Donohue, executive director of the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce.

Although branch managers and employees do a "great job" under rough conditions, the current site is a less-than-ideal location, she said. Parking is limited, and the busy intersection can make getting into and out of the site difficult.

She said the future site will be friendlier to customers who need to pick up packages at the annex, near the Just Brakes north of Riverhills Drive.

"I'm sure that will be met with relief by the average person," she said.

Customers should expect some inconvenience, Moyer said. The branch will probably shut down for a few days late this month so workers can move and reinstall the post office boxes and put the finishing touches on the interior.

The Postal Service will send thousands of notices to customers in the 33617 and 33637 ZIP code areas, explaining the temporary obstacles. To compensate for the closing, Moyer said, he will set up a mobile window to handle basic mailing needs. The annex will sort letter-size mail, as well as premium products, such as express and priority mail.

Josh Zimmer covers Temple Terrace and the University of South Florida area. He can be reached at 813 269-5314 or

[Last modified October 2, 2004, 09:15:20]

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