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Post office sale is off

Postal Service cancels deal with local man

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Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:10 am | Updated: 10:12 am, Thu Apr 17, 2014.

The U.S. Postal Service has canceled a $3.05 million deal to sell the Half Moon Bay branch office to a local art dealer, halting the sale just days before it was to be completed.

Postal officials explained they had a change of heart over plans to downsize and rent out a smaller space in the large Half Moon Bay building. Instead they intend to keep the facility along Stone Pine Road as the central distribution hub for the Coastside.

“The (Half Moon Bay) post office is off the market and it’s not going to be on the market anymore,” said Diane Alvarado, real estate manager for the San Francisco district post office. “We have a new district manager who has a different vision for the building.”

While postal officials point out they were fully within their rights to cancel the sale, the decision upset the proposed buyer. Josh Simpson, an El Granada resident and owner of the Half Moon Bay art boutique Jungletraders, said that he was given no warning and little reason for the cancellation.

Postal officials signed the $3.05- million deal with him last year, but they insisted on including a termination clause giving them 120 days to back out of the sale. They assured him there was only a “1 to 2 percent” chance the deal could be called off, Simpson said.

Given that encouragement, Simpson began soliciting tenants and putting forward plans to the city to redesign the building. Now those efforts are wasted, he said.

“I came out of pocket $50,000 and six months of my life,” he said. “You have this whole daisy chain of making plans and doing analyses and projections, only to have the brakes pulled at the last moment.”

Facing billion-dollar deficits, the Postal Service in 2011 began to sell off underused branches as a way to balance its budget. Initially, officials announced they would close 3,700 post offices nationwide, including tiny branches in Loma Mar and San Gregorio. The Postal Service later backpedaled and chose to reduce hours at many locations instead.

But for years, postal officials indicated they were intent on downsizing the 13,500-square-foot Half Moon Bay branch, which they described as drastically oversized for its current role. Over the following months, a number of prospective buyers expressed interest in the property, including the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside and the city of Half Moon Bay.

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