The scale of the U.S. Postal Service’s latest budget woes has reached one of the few areas that has remained buoyant during the Great Recession — downtown Princeton. According to the USPS, the post office building located in the heart of Palmer Square will likely go up for sale before long.

The idea of selling the building is not new. In 1997 the USPS seriously considered putting the building on the market, then abruptly decided not to. This latest round of interest, however, could be more serious. Raymond Daiutolo, a spokesman for the USPS, said the service has completed a study concluding that selling the building would be in its best interest. “We haven’t put it up for sale yet, but we’re probably going to,” Diautolo said.

Right now the 11,000-square-foot building is in the appraisal phase, so there is no market value to attach to the building yet. According to borough tax assessor Neal Snyder, the building is assessed at $1,899,600.

Much of the building is unused, creating a huge expense in wasted space for the cash-strapped USPS. According to its own figures, the Postal Service lost $8.5 billion last year and is struggling to stay afloat in the age of electronic communications.

Should the USPS sell the building, Diautolo said, the employees would be moved to smaller quarters elsewhere in Princeton.

In its heyday the Palmer Square branch was a distribution facility and mail carrier hub, but those operations were consolidated to other branches, including Hamilton and the main Princeton post office on Roszel Road in West Windsor. But as letter correspondence and online bill paying has grown, the USPS has suffered financially. In July it announced plans to close 3,700 stations in the United States, including 50 in New Jersey. Stations in Hamilton and Trenton have already been marked for closure.

#b#Princeton Palmer Square Post Office#/b#, 20 Palmer Square, Princeton 08542-9998; 609-921-9563; fax, 609-430-1175. Brian Krzywicki, manager. www.usps.com

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