JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Johnson City officials have confirmed to News Channel 11 that they’ve had little to no communication with the Post Office in regard to its impending lease expiration.

The Post Office, located on East Main Street directly across from City Hall, has called that building home for nearly 50 years.

While Post Office officials were able to renew the lease periodically over the past three decades, it’s now come to a time that the lease will soon fully expire. According to Johnson City Assistant City Manager Charlie Stahl, the lease will reach its termination on August 31, 2023.

“It was a city building, built in 1973 specifically to be a post office, and they’ve had 5-year lease terms with options to renew over the past 50 years, obviously,” Stahl said. “They have renewed those leases, and it’s now at the point where it’s going to expire next year.”

He said in an effort to give ample warning, he notified Post Office officials two years in advance of the impending end of their lease; however, almost a year after that initial notice, the city has yet to hear back about any future plans for the property.

Correspondence sent on August 31, 2021

Stahl said communication has been non-existent between the city and the post office and that finding the person in charge of the lease has been a challenge.

“Who is the point of contact for leases in the U.S. Postal Service? Over time as the Post Office has grown and become more diluted, that communication has become less consistent and less obvious,” he said.

News Channel 11 also reached out in search of the proper contact only to be met with a response from the USPS regional media correspondent stating, “The Postal Service does not publicly discuss lease terms.”

Whether they’re looking for a new building, consolidating, or willing to renegotiate new lease terms, all options are on the table. Stahl said he just wants to be in the loop on what’s next in order to avoid a last-minute crisis when the lease term truly does expire.

“It’s been a very good location for them and certainly for the citizens of Johnson City,” he said. “It’s served its purpose and it’s certainly been a benefit to the community, so we’re not begrudging the lease or the fact that the Post Office has existed over there, we’re simply just saying the lease has expired. A new lease is in order if that’s their intention. The City Commission would have to be interested in that, but we need some communication about what their intentions really are.”

Original lease agreement Courtesy of Johnson City

In an effort to expedite the conversation and improve communications on the matter, Stahl reached out to Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger’s office. He said her office was successful in reaching a USPS representative in Chattanooga who assured him they would improve that line of communication.

However, Stahl said that the conversation happened nine months ago, and there have been no further communications since.

He said if they would like to enter into a new lease agreement, that would have to be considered and drafted by the city commission. Stahl said if they have other intentions, they would hope those plans are communicated to the city sooner rather than later.

Stahl said should the Post Office no longer occupy the building, the city could easily repurpose the facility.