Postal Service officials in Alexandria have proposed moving the small "window" operation it maintains at Prince and Washington streets in what is primarily a federal court building.

Recently, postal officials announced plans to buy or build a small, separate post office building in Old Town, perhaps in an "auto agency, supermarket or one-story office building." The Postal Service has advertised for bids from commercial property owners.

"We hope to move to a nearby building if we can find one with enough space for me to have an office," Alexandria Postmaster Charles C. Phillips said last week. Phillips' office is now ina post office garage at 2300 Duke St. The Alexandria postmark covers a 57-square-mile area, much larger than the city, stretching from Fort Belvoir into parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties.

If the post office moves, which might not occur for two or three years, the federal court operations would take over the post office space and their parking lot now used by the Postal Service, according to officials at the General Services Administration, the federal agency that owns the building. The courthouse is about to undergo a $1.4 million modernization.

Both Phillips and regional postal officials say the Postal Service has no intention of leaving Old Town, where it has maintained an office for more than 100 years.

At a meeting of the City Council and postal officials last weekend, council members said they wanted the new post office to be as close as possible to the present location so businesses would not be affected.

The council also appointed Engin Artemel, city planning director, to work with postal authorities and the Chamber of Commerce in the search for new location.

Phillips said the post office is seeking a 184-by-275-foot lot, of approximately 50,000 square feet, or first-floor office space of about 7,500 square feet.