Lorie Garcia: Clarifying shape of old Modesto post office

May 4, 2014 

After reading the article “ Owners of historic downtown Modesto post office building set for civil trial Tuesday” (Online, April 25), I feel some clarification is needed. First, the General Services Administration would never have completed transfer of ownership of the post office to Thomas Hogan and Mimi Cook if outstanding environmental issues, i.e., asbestos, lead, etc., remained. Their review was extremely extensive to ensure that all applicable laws had been followed.

Second, and most importantly, as the post office was owned by the federal government, the proposed reuse project was required to undergo the Section 106 process to ensure that any adverse effects caused by the proposal would not alter the building’s National Register status. It took months of work with GSA and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to address these issues. Under the approved MOA and covenant, the exterior and several interior spaces, such as entry and public lobbies, east and west offices, bathrooms, etc., had to be preserved, with provision of public access to view the artwork. After 30 years experience in this field, I do not believe the “loft” project, including the obtrusive penthouse on the building’s roof, could have met these requirements.

LORIE GARCIA

Modesto

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