OCEAN CITY — The downtown U.S. Postal Service (USPS) branch at 5th Street will remain in place for at least the next few years after the city agreed to renew the lease.
Since the town purchased the property at 5th Street and Philadelphia Avenue, the future of the USPS presence in the downtown area has come into question. The town purchased the property in 2016 for $1.3 million when it became available for sale by the private owner whose husband had passed and left it in his estate.
At the time of the purchase, the property was eyed as a potential future expansion of the adjacent municipal parking lot at 4th Street, or even a south-end transit station, providing a turnaround for the municipal buses. However, when the town purchased the property, the USPS still had a five-year lease on it and the town honored it.
The USPS leases the downtown post office property for just under $90,000 per year for the five-year lease that terminates at the end of April. The current $90,000 lease roughly pays the town’s debt service on the purchase of the property five years ago. The town paid for the post office property with the issuance of a 10-year bond sale in that amount, and the current lease just about pays for that debt service.
During Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Terry McGean told the Mayor and Council the current lease would soon expire. McGean explained the city had reached a lease renewal agreement with the USPS. While the current lease is for about $90,000 per year, the renewed contract would pay the town nearly $94,000 per year.
McGean explained the terms of the proposed lease renewal is for another five years, at an annual rate of $93,878 per year. According to the terms of the proposed lease, either party can opt out after two years with a 365-day notice. With little discussion, the council voted 6-0 with Council President Matt James absent to approve the lease renewal with the USPS for the property at 5th Street.
That means the downtown post office will continue to exist at its current site for at least the next few years. At the time the town purchased the property in 2016, preliminary plans for it included expanding the adjacent municipal parking lot or creating a downtown transit station and rerouting the busses in the downtown area.