Copyright 2004 The Boston Herald

Waterfront plans may take big hit from Postal Service
by Scott Van Voorhis

Yet another piece of City Hall's grand vision for a redeveloped South Boston waterfront is teetering.

The U.S. Postal Service said yesterday that it is reconsidering plans to sell its South Station mail sorting plant and move the operation to Southie. The postal service may now hunker down in its giant South Station annex alongside Fort Point Channel instead of moving to a Reserved Channel site, spokesman Bob Cannon said.

Such a move is a key element in a City Hall-sponsored plan to redevelop the warehouses and parking lots that dominate the Fort Point Channel area.

But to make the move, the postal service would also have to win South Boston's support to build a mail plant at a site much closer to the neighborhood's residential core than the annex. And despite years of lobbying, postal officials have so far failed to overcome traffic fears and other concerns. As a result, the Postal Service is now looking at an extensive $30million revamp of its South Station plant, where more than 3,000 people work. While the Postal Service would still like to move, it also needs to plan for the future, Cannon said. "It is clearly not moving at the pace we would like to see," Cannon said. "We do have to prepare for the future." A decision by the Postal Service to stay put could put an end to years of planning that envisioned an array of office and residential towers taking shape as redevelopment of the prime stretch of long-industrial Fort Point Channel next to South Station.

Moreover, it would also presumably bar development on a sprawling Postal Service parking lot on A Street, across the Channel - the centerpiece of a City Hall-sponsored "100-acre" redevelopment plan. "It throws a monkey wrench into the 100-acre plan and any development in the A Street corridor," said State Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston).

Copyright 2004 Boston Herald

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