Madison Municipal Building

Home to some 200 employees, the Madison Municipal Building will be vacated for 18 to 24 months for renovations, starting late this year. The U.S. Postal Service will permanently relocate its post office from the building.

JOHN HART — State Journal archives

The U.S. Postal Service is now considering two Downtown sites and one on the near East Side when it permanently moves its post office in the Madison Municipal Building, which will close for renovations this fall.

City officials are pushing for a Downtown site.

The Postal Service has been targeting its relocation to the QTI Group building on the 700 block of East Washington Avenue, but city officials recently presented two Downtown alternatives the Postal Service will consider.

The alternatives are the Manchester Building, 2 E. Mifflin St., on Capitol Square, and the former AT&T building, 315 W. Washington Ave.

“Right now, we’re open to all alternatives,” said Greg Shelton, a real estate specialist with the Postal Service. “I’m looking at everything right now. We’re keeping a very open mind.”

The Postal Service has set a public hearing on its intent to relocate the post office for 10 a.m. Wednesday in the lobby of the Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

In anticipation of the hearing, city officials have scheduled time with Shelton on Tuesday to tour the two Downtown alternatives, and on Wednesday morning, Shelton is scheduled to meet with Mayor Paul Soglin, Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, and others.

“We all strongly believe the Downtown post office should remain Downtown,” Verveer said. “I certainly don’t consider the 700 block of East Washington Avenue to be Downtown. It would be a tremendous inconvenience. And symbolically, the Downtown of a state capitol deserves a post office.”

The Municipal Building, built in the late 1920s, was initially a federal courthouse and post office, and was acquired by the city in 1979. It is home to multiple city services. In 2005, the U.S. Congress designated the post office there as the Robert M. La Follette Sr. Post Office.

The Postal Service intends to leave the Municipal Building permanently when the $30 million, two-year renovation begins late this fall. The Postal Service has eyed the QTI Group building, where it already has a presence, because space is available there and the timing of the end of its lease at the Municipal Building. The city has extended the lease, allowing more time to explore other options.

On Thursday, Capitol Neighborhoods Inc. issued a statement saying it is “troubled” to learn of a possible relocation outside the business district.

“We understand that the facility will need to be temporarily relocated during the Madison Municipal Building’s renovation, and we desire that this temporary relocation be within our core business district,” CNI’s statement says. “However, we oppose a permanent closing of the Robert M. La Follette Sr. Post Office in the Madison Municipal Building and strongly encourage any decision to include a dialogue with Downtown community and business leaders as well as public engagement.”

The city’s current plans do not include a return of the post office to the Municipal Building due to space and other considerations, Verveer said.

The city will move all city agencies during the renovation to rented space at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 W. Mifflin St., and the former AnchorBank annex building at 126. S. Hamilton St. The Madison Credit Union will leave during renovations but return when the Municipal Building is reopened to the public.

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Dean Mosiman covers Madison city government for the Wisconsin State Journal.