New post office could revive Gateway

By Justin Boron

Gateway Village, a $28 million investment in Morrow that some county officials have said is languishing toward failure, could have a new building in the works for next year.

Although it hasn't been announced officially, Emory Brock, the county's director of economic development, said he anticipates by next year that the U.S. Postal Service will start constructing its new Morrow facility on the property across from the state and national archives. He said the development could rekindle interest in the property the Clayton County Development Authority wants to become a mixed-use community featuring residences, businesses, and a hotel and conference center.

Thirteenth District Congressman David Scott, D-Atlanta, also said money would be ready for the facility. ”By next year, we're going to have a new post office,“ he said.

As the original project for Gateway Village, the facility was slated in 1998 to be a 15,700-square-foot replacement for the existing post office on Lake Harbin Road.

But because of budget constraints, the U.S. Postal Service backed away from construction after it had already purchased the property.

Michael Miles, a spokesman for the federal agency's Atlanta district, said as far as he knows the facility is still ”on hold indefinitely.“

But loads of fill dirt are being moved to the 3.6 acre site to accommodate the building.

As part of the property purchase, the county agreed to move about 30,000 cubic yards of dirt for the post office. The deadline on the dirt agreement was set to expire on Dec. 31, Brock said.

Miles did say the postal service's moratorium on new facilities had been lifted for some time and that it was prioritizing which projects to pursue.

Brock said that moving the dirt and the possibility of a new building could enliven new interest in the area across from the archives.

”To have some activity - something going - that's a huge plus for the continuation of the project,“ he said. ”The timing couldn't be better.“

Besides the progress on the two archive facilities, Gateway has suffered some setbacks. The Rainwood Apartments, which the county purchased to help generate revenue, have struggled to turn a substantial profit. Also, commissioners have balked at the idea of issuing bonds for the hotel and conference center.

Nevertheless, development officials in Morrow and the county have continually emphasized that the project is still viable.

Scott also said the post office, a new commercial aviation museum near Southlake Mall, and the commuter rail scheduled to pass through Morrow would combine to make a strong asset.