Higby Building

Preservation Watch List

23-25 S. Main Street, Union City

Photograph captured from Google Maps.

The Higby Building, which was built in 1889, is located within Union City Borough’s commercial corridor and the National Register listed Union City Historic District. On May 28, 2013 a tornado developed near Edinboro, PA and traveled 18 miles to Union City, PA with wind speeds of 100-105 mph per the National Weather Service. The two story brick veneer structure at 23 S. Main Street was significantly damaged by the storm: most of the brick and sheathing was pulled off the second story of the front façade and the roof was significantly damaged. The building was repaired by putting on a temporary roof, and framing a new wall with vinyl siding over a portion of the second floor. In the ensuing years, the roof has leaked significantly, and the interior framing has deteriorated.

In 2018, and in conjunction with Union City Downtown Development, Union City Pride sought proposals from individuals or entities willing to accept free-of-charge and redevelop the Higby Building. Even though proposals were received, no viable option for the property was identified. As a result, the property remains vacant and continues to incur damage from the elements.

A report prepared by consulting firm City Studio in 2020 states that, “While the building is not a danger to life and property at this time, it is not fit for occupancy and should remain secured against entry. Because of the historic value of the block, it may be desirable to preserve the building without investing what it would take to make the building ready for occupancy. It seems likely that it would be possible to address issues with the center bearing wall, shore up the roof, and not address the issues in the first and second floor framing but stabilize the building. All exterior wall issues could be addressed from the exterior without affecting the interior floors. This way the building and its historic value would be preserved, and the costs of interior fit out could be deferred until such a time that there is a buyer or tenant. Regardless of the chosen course of action, partial interior demolition of finishes to expose framing would be a necessary first step. From there, an appropriate scope of repair and stabilization could be developed.”

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