Union City’s Historic Preservation Plan is Truly Impressive
By Chris Lash Publisher
Released on the Union City website, Union City’s Historic Preservation Plan prepared by a company hired by the community, called City Studio, with the help of T&B Planning, and Milton Ogot Architects, reviews, highlights, and enhances everything in downtown Union City.
The Union City Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The historic district encompasses a commercial district, residential neighborhoods, and institutional and manufacturing buildings. The Historic Preservation Plan focuses on the historic commercial district on Main Street and a small portion of West High Street.
If you’ve ever looked at our buildings downtown, while on a walk, or a drive through, you know how unique they are. The uniqueness of Union City’s historic buildings, which represent the industrial and cultural histories of the community. The historic district includes the downtown commercial district and some of the surrounding residential neighborhoods, churches, institutional buildings, and manufacturing buildings. The historic buildings within the district are comprised of Italianate, Late Victorian, and Colonial Revival style buildings, the majority of which are brick structures built between 1865 and 1925.
The plan goes on to say, Union City’s historic district contains many distinct historic buildings and some newer buildings. Most of the district’s historic buildings need standard maintenance. Some buildings have undergone structural and cosmetic alterations, and some of the more recently constructed buildings do not blend into the character of the historic district.
The preservation includes a Main Street Facade Improvement Grant program. Already three buidling owners have applied since January. Two other businesses are planning to submit applications, according to Union City Borough Secretary Cindy Wells. If the final two are approved, more funding will be needed for new applications in 2021.
The borough and committee are waiting on a structural assessment is completed and the application period for those will open. There is a total of $42,500 available, with a 50/50 match, and a maximum of $12,000 available.
One of the true highlights of the plan, are the ideas of four designated open space areas. The community desires more green space in the downtown, places to mingle, outdoor seating, and connections to French Creek. The recommendations incorporate this feedback and propose implementable solutions to create more outdoor public space. The areas mentioned include Main, and Market Streets, Hogan’s Alley and the Municipal Prking Lot along French Creek.
Imagine the Municipal Parking Lot as a true outdoor open space along the creek, with a boat launch. The municipal parking lot, located on the northwestern side of Main Street, provides another great opportunity for green space and recreational access to French Creek. A previous design concept prepared in 2017 by Michael Humes, an Associate Landscape Architect at Mahan Rykiel Associate, proposed to maintain the parking lot area and embellish it with designated pedestrian walkways and more trees. The existing creek bank would expand in areas to create a lookout with benches and a boat ramp ideal for kayaks and canoes. This Plan supports these recommendations, which will be attractive and allow visitors and residents of Union City to enjoy the water and downtown in a unique way.
The plan covers everything from streetscape, structure and roofing issues, landscaping, trees, lighting and signage on buildings. It shows examples of what we have now, and what could replace and enhance.
Things we don’t think about, that dress up any building include window design and appropriate dressings, to doors, proper upper windows, building and trim painting, benches, artwork and custom garbage can designs.
The entire eighty three pages are impressive. Everyone involved and participated with ideas, discussions, and financial involvement should be thanked. The next few years are going to be very fun, and pointed towards the future of Union City.
View the Historic Preservation Plan at unioncitypa.us