For Sale: Old Post Office

A piece of Manassas history is for sale.

After determining that the downtown post office needed about $600,000 in improvements, city officials decided to sell the building.

"We've had interest from the private sector, which caused us to consider selling it," said Michael Moon, director of public works for Manassas.

Offers will be accepted through June 22 for the post office at 9108 Church St. Minimum bids of $300,000 will be considered with the stipulation that 1,800 square feet on the first floor of the building be leased back to the U.S. Postal Service. The building includes a basement and second floor.

The post office occupied the entire building until 1976, when a second post office was opened at 8808 Sudley Rd. The federal government was going to close the downtown post office after the new one was built, but the city purchased the building for $50,000 in 1977. The city agreed to maintain it and lease it to the U.S. Postal Service to keep the post office open.

City officials recently spent about $65,000 sprucing up the historic building by cleaning the brick, rebuilding the lobby vestibule and lighting. But the building needs to be updated with modern plumbing and electrical wiring, and it needs asbestos abatement.

The post office was built in 1931, when A.W. Mellon was the secretary of the treasury and the acting supervisor architect of the building was James A. Wetmore, according to the building's cornerstone. It opened in 1932, with the first postmaster remembered today only as Mr. Newman.

Celebrity Sightings Ahead

The stars will be shining on Prince William County businesses in the next few days, as celebrities lend their luster to several events.

Residents can eat with the stars today and help feed homeless children at the same time. Celebrity waiters including musicians, former Mouseketeers, professional athletes, television actors and local politicians will serve lunch and dinner at the Uno Chicago Grill at 10701 Bulloch Dr., near Interstate 66 and Route 234 in Manassas. Twenty percent of sales and all tips as well as proceeds from a silent auction will benefit the Serve Inc. shelter and food pantry, which helps children in Manassas.

Woodbridge celebrity Bianca Smith of "The Amazing Race" will sign autographs at the grand opening of the Chrome, A Statements Salon, from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday at 2253-E Old Bridge Rd. in Woodbridge. Local bands Shade of Blue and Blue Ink Rebellion will perform at the salon's opening. The salon will cater to teenagers and 20-somethings, offering spa treatments and massage therapy at its 2,500-square-foot location in Tackett's Mill Plaza.

Chiropractic Clinic to Open

Another kind of therapy will be featured at the opening of the Acute & Wellness Chiropractic Clinic at 9851 Fairview Ave. at 9 am. Wednesday. Clinic owner Joe Mikluscak has been practicing chiropractic therapy for four years and will offer initial consultations of $29 through June 10.

Gainesville Gains a Bank

Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank will open its fourth branch in Prince William County at 14100 Whitney Rd. in the fast-growing Gainesville community. The bank will host a community festival Saturday and a ribbon-cutting Monday.

Business Loans Available

Need cash? Many small business owners do need a source of money to expand their business, and the U.S. Small Business Administration's Richmond district office will help tackle that problem in its "Entrepreneur Express Loan Workshop."

Small business owners can apply during the workshop for loans of $5,000 to $15,000.

The workshop, which is free, is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. June 7 in the Colgan Theater at Northern Virginia Community College, 6901 Sudley Rd., Manassas. To register, call the college at 703-257-6630.

Area Tech Firms Honored

While many people have been transfixed by filmmaking technology watching the latest "Star Wars" movie, area residents were hearing about some space-age technology closer to home that might have passed unnoticed if not for the annual Technology Achievement Award breakfast given by Prince William County and the City of Manassas.

Prince William companies that build computers for spacecraft and sonar systems for the armed services, along with a third company that builds most of a house in a factory, miles from the subdivision where it one day will rise, won awards in a contest designed to highlight the innovation of local businesses.

The companies were nominated by local businesses and judged by a panel of local experts.

Defense contractor Progeny Systems Corp. earned the top prize for its use of computer components and software available in the marketplace to create sonar and weapons systems. Progeny, based in Prince William, reported $43 million in revenues last year.

The other finalists were Manassas-based BAE Systems and Pulte Home Sciences, which operates a plant in Prince William.

BAE was recognized for modernizing its semiconductor foundry to produce technologies that will be used in civil, commercial and military space programs. The company, which has locations around the world, has 340 employees in Manassas, where it builds computers used in spacecraft.

Pulte, a subsidiary of Pulte Homes Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was named a finalist for developing a custom component systems approach to building houses. That system involves workers in a factory making the foundation, roofing, exterior and interior walls and then assembling the house on the site within a few days. Pulte's technologies include design and engineering software to produce three-dimensional house renderings. Pulte opened a production facility in Prince William in 2003 and last year built 167 houses with this system. This year, the company has built 455 houses.

Area businesses also were honored by the Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce at the "Excellence in Business" awards ceremony last month. They received plaques and statuettes in what the chamber calls its version of the Academy Awards. Businesses won for working hard and achievement, not for reporting a surge in revenues or employment.

"The purpose of the 'Excellence in Business' awards is to recognize those members who have exhibited a commitment to excellence in their approach to business, the chamber and the community," said Susan Jacobs, the chamber's chairwoman.

Graphics design company ImageWerks of Lake Ridge was named the Business of the Year for companies with up to five employees. The company redesigned the chamber's logo for its 70th anniversary. The Bull Run Observer, a bimonthly community newspaper that covers the western end of Prince William County, was named the Louis E. Maroon Business of the Year for companies with six to 15 employees. Maroon was a Manassas city councilman and the owner of a Manassas office supply store. He died in 1992. Manassas-based Lake Litho Printing and Marketing Services took the award for the Business of the Year for companies with 16 or more employees.

Finally, the Prince William County Disability Services Board will honor four area businesses Tuesday for operating as "Disability Friendly Businesses." Two bowling businesses -- Bowl America in Woodbridge and AMF Dale City Lanes -- as well as Miller Toyota in Manassas and Lowe's Home Improvement in Woodbridge will be awarded a "Disability-Friendly Business" recognition seal for accommodating, hiring and serving the disabled.

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