WILTON — Steven and Judith Katten have grave concerns about the future of the Wilton Post Office located at 454 Main St. The couple from Old Chatham, New York owns the building which has long been leased to the United States Postal Service.
“It is our concern that this association may be nearing its end, and that, indeed, the USPS may be intending to abandon the Town of Wilton,” Judith Katten said.
The concern is attached to a proposal from the United States Postal Service that reduces the annual rental rate from $75,106 to $65,310. The proposal also requires the Katten’s to pay a commission to rent the building to USPS. The proposed 5-year lease also gives the tenant the right to terminate the lease at any time with at least a 30-day notice.
“With a 30-day termination clause, this is not a lease. It is a month-to-month tenancy,” stated Steven Katten.
A letter address to the landlords from Karen LaFave, manager of USPS Facilities Leasing explained the Postal Service had awarded a contract for real estate services to Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc.
“JLL has the experience in real property transactions and will be providing real estate support services, including lease management and brokerage services,” wrote LaFave.
“The Postal Service expects that you will pay a commission to the JLL representative for leasing services pursuant to a separate agreement between you and the JLL representative,” LaFave said in the letter.
The Katten’s said the real estate commission they are required to pay to JLL is four percent of the rental rate.
“They propose to reduce the rent and we’ve never heard of landlord paying a commission to keep at tenant before,” state Judith Katten.
The Katten’s are members of the Association of United States Postal Lessors, which provides education and training in lease negotiation, maintenance and property taxes so lessors can better manage their investments.
“Fifty percent of post offices are actually privately owned. Most of the owners are ‘mom and pop’ operations,” said Judith Katten.
The Katten’s concern, as building owners, is that a 17 percent reduction in rent, $13,062 5-year lease commission payable upfront and 30-day notice for termination does not play out well for them as landlords.
“We think the change is such that any reasonable landlord would not renew the lease and then the fault of closure would fall on us,” said Judith Katten.
“You don’t go into an investment to lose money. It is hard for us to objectively talk about this a not conclude they are looking to close the post office,” said Judith Katten.
Several phone calls to LaFave were not returned.