Morristown backs out of Post Office purchase; mayor cites renovation costs

Steve HutkinsNews Municipal plans to buy the Morristown Post Office got stamped “return to sender” on Tuesday.

After a closed-session briefing by the administration, the town council quietly agreed to withdraw from a $3 million contract to buy the historic 108-year-old structure across from the Morristown Green.

Council members were told renovations would have cost around $24 million — about 12 times more than Mayor Tim Dougherty’s original estimate.

“It’s just not financially feasible for us to do what we wanted to do. We tried everything,” the mayor said after the council meeting.

The unanimous vote concluded a difficult dance with the Postal Service that began in 2016. And for the moment, at least, it dampened Dougherty’s dreams of moving municipal operations from town hall on South Street.

In 2022, the mayor had estimated the 17,000-square-foot Post Office could be renovated for about $2 million and transformed into a centerpiece of the downtown. “We can bring it back to its glory,” he said at the time.

But the town’s experts painted a different picture. Town Administrator Jillian Barrick said they predicted it would cost upwards of $7 million just to satisfy town building codes — repairing water- and structural damage and removing asbestos — plus another $17 million to expand and modernize the building with air conditioning, an elevator, and new heating, electric and fire suppression systems.

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