A Clark County businessman has reached a tentative agreement to purchase the downtown Camas Post Office building from the U.S. Postal Service, parties close to negotiations said Wednesday.
As part of the deal, Will Macia, the president of Vancouver-based Last U.S. Bag Co., would pay the asking price of $430,000 for the 70-year-old building. Last U.S. Bag Co. sells custom-sewn bags and cases, employing about 22 people.
Camas’ annex post office, 2455 S.E. Eighth Ave., will become the town’s primary site for retail services and post office boxes this fall, said Ron Anderson, a customer relations representative for the U.S. Postal Service. Until then, residents will continue to use the downtown building, 440 N.E. Fifth Ave.
“It’s as close to a deal as it can be until money changes hands and the deal is completed,” Anderson said. The deal could be completed as early as June.
Anderson declined to say who the building’s buyer was, citing confidential requirements, but Macia confirmed that he was the buyer.
The proposed sale of the downtown Camas post office has been a source of controversy since late 2009, when the U.S. Postal Service announced its intentions to sell the building as a cost-cutting measure. Residents and public officials in Camas have decried the proposed move’s impact on the city’s downtown area.
Last U.S. Bag Co. would use the post office building as a retail showroom and administrative office space, Macia said.
The company has offices in Vancouver and Stevenson.
As recently as last month, Anderson said the U.S. Postal Service was “still at square one” in its attempts to sell the downtown Camas post office. Shortly after those comments were made, Macia questioned why the U.S. Postal Service had accepted his bid in December, only to stall the deal. Talks restarted soon after.
Now that a tentative deal has been reached, the real work can begin, Macia said.
His company must perform physical inspections on the property and answer other logistical questions such as utility consumption and how the business might affect traffic flow.
Macia could not perform this “due diligence” until the U.S. Postal Service agreed to his offer. He still has the power to nix the deal if the building does not fit the needs of his business.
Macia has lived in Camas the past eight years and views the post office as an ideal space for his business, he said. He has heard concerns about the building’s sale and he assures the company does not plan to change the building’s red brick exterior or structure.
“We look to preserve it in its historic state,” Macia said.
Once the sale is finalized, the Postal Service will designate part of the annex building for retail use and offer parking for customers. Most of Camas’ letter carriers work out of the annex.
The sale comes as the U.S. Postal Service evaluates needs of small towns with multiple post offices.
The Postal Service has cut $9 billion in costs the past two fiscal years, but still lost $8.5 billion in 2010 and expects to lose $6.4 billion this year, according to usps.com. A large reason for the losses is that the Postal Service is required to prepay for employees’ retirement health benefits, Anderson said.
Phone calls made to Camas officials were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517, or ray.legendre @col_smallcities.