The recent sale of the lovely, Neoclassical-style building, which houses the Greenwich Postal Service to a local real estate magnate, who is rumored to have large retail plans for the space, has me wondering about the way we currently utilize and worse, appreciate our historical buildings.
While I understand the financial practicalities: the Post Office was losing money and the 17,000-square foot space was no longer affordable given their daily operations, I believe that the building's history and evident prominence on the Avenue lent a gravitas to its inhabitants which, was was befitting of a Post Office and its civic-minded endeavor. That said, I am somewhat concerned for the building's future in the hands of Greenwich Retail LLC.
Perhaps it's my childhood view of Greenwich that has me feeling a bit empty towards this turnover of another notable structure to the world of commercialization. Yet, I can't help but shake my head at the idea of another high-end retailer obtaining such architectural distinction on the Avenue? Shouldn't that building actually DO or BE something with a more community-minded intention than further material consumption?
While it's perfectly common to see buildings of former glory refashioned into modern spaces in cities - where historic buildings are in abundance - it feels somewhat jarring out here in pseudo-suburbia, particularly given the scarcity of Greenwich Avenue's truly historic structures, those like the Post Office Building, which are on the National Register of Historic Places list. I can't help but feel this recent sale is an epochal one, highlighting the Avenue's singular focus on the consumerism.
Fortunately, the sale does come with a very important provision; that the new owner must preserve the building's neoclassical facade and ensure its eligibility on the National Register. Furthermore, the Connecticut Historic Preservation and Musuem Division will have to approve and changes that would affect the building's historic features, which translates into loads of paperwork and headaches for any major expansion plans.
So, whether the building becomes Bergdorf's Greenwich-Outpost or a gleaming, new Louis Vuitton, I am pleased that the historic elegance of the building will remain. I can only hope the building's prominence puts an onus on the new owners to find something deserving of such singular distinction.
I'd love to hear from readers what they'd like to see in that space. Personally, I'd love them to turn it into an atrium-style gourmet eatery with cafe tables surrounded by various gourmet food stands and small, independent shops. And free-wifi, of course!