WAILUKU - The county is a step closer to buying the old Wailuku Post Office building after the Maui County Council passed a resolution authorizing the purchase last week.
The council still needs to give final approval to its annual budget for the county, which includes money to buy the building. But once that happens and the funding becomes available July 1, the county will proceed with the acquisition, said Managing Director Sheri Morrison.
"The next step is for our attorney and their attorney to negotiate a purchase and sale agreement," she said.
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo
The old Wailuku Post Office, located off South High Street, sits empty while Maui County officials move toward purchasing the property to make way for a new office building. The county is squeezed for office space, and a study completed last year recommended acquiring the post office property.
Preliminary negotiations determined an estimated price of $1.5 million for the 18,924-square-foot lot and its 1950s-era building.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares has said she plans to use the property to provide needed office space for the county, which has a space crunch and spends millions each year to rent offices.
While the budget includes funding for the purchase, it wouldn't cover serious planning and design for the project, although there might be enough for an "initial assessment" of the property, Morrison said.
"That's something we have to save for when we have a little more flexibility in our budget," she said.
The county has been paying about $75,000 per year to lease the building that sits at the corner of South High and Wells streets in a contract that runs through 2026. Because it is contaminated with asbestos and toxic mold, the old post office was previously used only for storage. But last year the county cleaned and removed thousands of documents and files, and since then it has been sitting empty.
A space-utilization study completed last year recommended buying the property and using it for a new office building.