The U.S. Postal Service last week purchased a 20.5-acre site at Nursery Road and the Baltimore-Washington Expressway for a $26.4 million automated mail processing center.

The new building, scheduled to be completed in April 1993, is expected to relieve the overworked Baltimore post office on Fayette Street, which now handles 5 million pieces of mail a day, said John Knott, coordinator of the Linthicum project.

No retail services will be offered at the Linthicum facility, Knott said. There will be a mailbox or two outside the building, "but that's it. It's a little different than the traditional post office as you know it."

Three-fifths of the mail now processed on Fayette Street -- all of the mail coming into Baltimore from all over the world-- will go to the Linthicum facility for sorting, Knott said. Mail picked up from the Baltimore area still will be processed on Fayette Street.

The Postal Service expects to employ 500 people at the Linthicum plant, most of whom will be transferred from the Fayette Streetoffice and from smaller post offices in Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Halethorpe, Catonsville, Ellicott City, Clarksville and Columbia, Knott said.

The plant will be located in the 121-acre Hock Business Park opposite the new Westinghouse Electric Corp. headquarters. Postal officials said they paid $4.6 million for the land.

The Postal Service is the first organization to purchase land at the park since marketing for it began in March, said J. Gary Lee, who handles marketing and building development. Sixty-three developable acres are left.

The new postal building will be one story and 200,000 square feet. With room for expansion, it should take care of postal processing needs in the Baltimore area for many years, Knott said.

He said the center also will help improve the delivery service to postal patrons.

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