By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — The United States Postal Service is close to striking a deal with the city to turn the Peck Slip Post Office into a school, officials said this week.
The Postal Service has been in exclusive negotiations with the School Construction Authority for months to sell the 1 Peck Slip building, and the talks are "very positive," said Paul Mas, executive vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, who is representing the Postal Service.
"Some things you feel better about than others," Mas said at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday. "This has a good feel to it."
The city plans to open downtown's much-needed new elementary school in temporary space at Tweed Courthouse in the fall of 2012. The school would then move to its permanent home on Peck Slip, which would house 476 children, in the fall of 2015.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, US Rep. Jerrold Nadler and other officials have been pressing both sides to reach an agreement so the school can open on time.
"There's been a lot of political pressure put on the post office," Mas said Tuesday. "It's very clear that this is a very high priority."
Tuesday's community board meeting marked the first time that Postal Service representatives have spoken publicly about the pending deal for the 70,800-square-foot building.
City officials said earlier this year that they are in "daily" negotiations with the Postal Service and that both sides understood the urgency.
In the meantime, the Postal Service is already making plans to shut down the Peck Slip Post Office and move its operations elsewhere.
The mail delivery operations will move to the much larger post office on Church Street, while the retail operations, including boxes and counter service, will move to a new space in lower Manhattan, said Paul Tyburski, a real estate specialist at the Postal Service.
One possibility is for the Postal Service to rent about 3,000 square feet in Southbridge Towers, potentially in the current Key Food space, Tyburski said.
Tyburski promised that the community would not see any interruption of service during the transition.