Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nashville Arcade keeps post office

The Tennessean

October 21, 2009

Nashville Arcade keeps post office

Decision cheers artists, vendors

By Lea Ann Overstreet Allen

When Beth Gilmore, curator of Twist Art Gallery in the Arcade, the historic covered mall stretching between Fourth and Fifth avenues, heard the U.S. Postal Service was considering closing its branch inside the Arcade, she feared the impact on the growing art scene in downtown Nashville.

"It's part of the fabric of downtown, and I think it will hurt us all if it's gone," she said.

She no longer has to worry. The U.S. Postal Service recently released an updated list of possible post office closures across the country, and the Arcade location was not among the 371 sites, trimmed from 416.

"If it is not on the list, that means it is no longer being considered for possible closure," said Sue Brennan with the U.S. Postal Service.

For Gilmore, who is among the many art gallery owners who call the Arcade home, the post office remaining open helps revitalize downtown Nashville, "which I think people in the arts are interested in," she said.

The U.S. Postal Service has been battling ever-growing decreases in mail volume, which has led to cost-cutting measures like closing offices across the country, 16 possibly in Tennessee.

"I suspect that we were very successful in our campaign," said Kathy Bloodworth, owner of the Peanut Shop, a 21-year member of the Arcade. Bloodworth had asked patrons to fill out cards to vote to save the post office.

The post office hit the spotlight when Historic Nashville, Inc., a local nonprofit that works to promote public awareness of historic sites, included the office in its "Nashville Nine" list, a group of endangered historic properties in Davidson County.

David Price, board president and Nashville Nine committee chairman, called it "fantastic news" that the site would not close.

Janice Thompson, president and CEO of The Arcade Inc., was confident the Arcade would have survived without the post office, but is thrilled to know it is sticking around.

"The post office is an institution, just as the Arcade is an institution. It brings a lot of traffic to the Arcade. People come here who really don't have access to another post office, all kinds of people," Thompson said.

Still facing possible closure are three Nashville area sites: Donelson, Glenview, Northeast.

No timeline has been set for a final decision on the closings.