GRAND RAPIDS, MICH - For years Grand Rapids city leaders have tried to negotiate a way to pry prime property from the United States Postal Service (USPS) in the downtown area.
It hasn't worked.
But now, multiple sources are telling WZZM 13 new discussions are underway between Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and the federal government to try to make a deal for the current post office located at 225 Michigan St. NW.
Grand Rapids city spokesman Steve Guitar sent us a statement Wednesday afternoon indicating "the city of Grand Rapids has not had any official conversations about the post office."
That contradicts information from three different sources indicating there have been discussions.
David Frey, one of the outgoing chairs of Grand Action, the group that helped put together the Devos Place Convention Center and Van Andel Arena projects said Bliss is involved.
"The mayor is quietly working on the project," Frey said. "It's a key parcel not only for the medical mile issue but a critical component for residential downtown living."
Frey is optimistic this time it will get done.
"I would say there are discussions in progress that would suggest it's always a possibility," Frey said. "It just begs for private sector development, mid-to-high-rise living units or the like."
Former Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair and current Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention Arena Authority Chair Steve Heacock says it's been difficult negotiating with the U.S. Postal Service.
"When I chaired the county commission at the turn of the century in 2000, they indicated they would not talk about property changes," Heacock said.
Heacock said the USPS turned down money, retail space and land at the time. But he's optimistic this time around, it will be different considering the USPS is going through a period of change.
"I get the impression that Mayor (Bliss) and others are more optimistic than they were in the past," Heacock said.
The situation is more important now as the city begins to restore the rapids in the downtown area. That project is being considered one of the biggest projects to be done in the next five years and, undoubtedly, the business community would like to see the post office site available for a new development or a possible Devos Place expansion.
Leaders at the USPS have told us in the past, they weren't interested in moving. Particularly because the USPS would need another location for retail and other operations.
We contacted a USPS spokesperson Tuesday morning to get an update where they stand but didn't hear back by our deadline late Tuesday.
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