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New post office site poses parking problems

By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published July 13, 2007


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The post office is moving to a busy intersection ideal for walkup traffic, but burdensome for drivers who will have to park at least a block away.

Signs inside the U.S. Postal Service, at 925 N Florida Ave., say operations will cease at that location by the end of October. The new site will open at 401 N Ashley Drive, the former location of National Wall Art Gallery, near Kennedy Boulevard.

It's too soon to give an opening date for the new site, said postal spokesman Gary Sawtelle, but it will be later this year.

Clearwater developer Antonios Markopoulos, who is transforming the dilapidated Floridan Hotel, purchased the property that's home to the post office. His attorney, Lisa Shasteen, said he plans to use the lot to build a ballroom and for parking.

The post office's lease expires this month. Shasteen said the post office may remain there for several more weeks.

Markopoulos wants to complete construction on the Floridan by year's end, Shasteen said.

"It seems like we're on schedule," she said.

Not everyone is happy about the coming changes.

Some customers have complained that parking at the new location won't be as convenient, post office employees said. Meters surround the current site with parking in front of the entrance.

But there are no parking spaces immediately near the entrance to the new location. Customers would have to park a block north along W Kennedy Boulevard or on N Tampa Street, or park a block west along E Madison Street.

Sawtelle said the Ashley location should be more accessible to businesses in the heart of downtown.

"One of the things that's good about it is it's going to be extremely accessible to the office towers," Sawtelle said. "It's going to be a great walkup location."

Another downtown post office exists at 401 S Florida Ave., less than a mile from the Ashley site. Sawtelle said once the new location opens, postal officials will watch to see how business is affected at the S Florida Avenue location.

"They are going to co-exist, at least for the present time," he said.

Customers with post office boxes at the N Florida Avenue location will be notified in writing 30 days before the move takes place.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or 813 226-3433.

[Last modified July 12, 2007, 08:45:37]


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