Photo Provided - A look at the Union Hall Block Building (AKA the Tasty Nut Shop Building) in White Pigeon. A local nonprofit group looking to repair and restore the building, Union Hall Block Building, Inc. (UHBBI), was deeded ownership of the building last week by previous owners Marjorie Hamminga and Linda Hochstetler.

Tasty Nut Shop building under new ownership

Nonprofit looking to save building takes on ownership

WHITE PIGEON — A historical building whose fate is still up in the air is now under new ownership.

On May 17, the nonprofit Union Hall Block Building, Inc. (UHBBI) announced they were deeded over the Tasty Nut Shop Building (also known as the Union Hall Block Building) from previous owners Marjorie Hamminga and Linda Hochstetler as part of the group’s efforts to repair and restore the recently-maligned building on the corner of Chicago Road/U.S. 12 and Kalamazoo Street in White Pigeon.

The building has been under threat of demolition in recent months due to multiple issues both inside and outside of the structure, and was deemed in a report by a structural engineer commissioned by the White Pigeon Village Council back in November to be a public safety hazard with recommendations to be demolished. However, a report commissioned by Hamminga and Hochstetler found that the foundational and structural problems with the building should be addressed “immediately,” with recommendations for work to be done. The UHBBI reportedly agreed to reimburse Hamminga and Hochstetler for the engineer’s report.

Last week’s announcement coincides with an upcoming hearing regarding the building’s fate in St. Joseph County 3B District Court, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. today, Wednesday, May 25.

UHBBI officially became a nonprofit in early March of this year, and was granted 501(c)3 status before the end of April, according to a press release from the organization. The group was started by local resident Gretchen Andersen, the board’s president, who has been leading the charge behind potentially saving the 160-year-old pre-Civil War structure.

“The [UHBBI] board of directors has accomplished the impossible in a matter of three months,” Andersen said in a statement. “As President I am proud and pleased with the time and effort put forth by the board of directors. The board of directors continues to work in preparing for repair of the building.”

UHBBI is currently in the process of raising funds to repair the building and fix the problems that caused the village to condemn the building. Andersen said the repairs planning on being done in phases.

Their current plans, according to the release, include having experts from five different companies come in to do 3D and cloud modeling of the building, examine the brickwork, and solidify a plan for making repairs. The work is expected to cost $63,740, and the nonprofit stated there were two anonymous donors who have pledged the money needed to pay the contractors. Later phases, according to the release, will include restoration and preserving the building as a historic site.

In her statement, Andersen said that the number of pledges and supporters has been “growing” for the restoration project ever since their corporation was formed and nonprofit status was granted.

“Pledges show that people care about the building. The amount of people pledging shows growing support of the building and for its historic value,” Andersen said.

The nonprofit previously said they are looking to raise between $2 million and $3 million for the restoration and repair project of the building, with work potentially taking about two to three years to complete.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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