The Union Inn, drowned in rainwater and mud, has finally given up the fight. It closed last week, out of money and full of water.
Owner Joyce Fordham said she has still not been paid for the damage she believes was caused by drainage problems from her new neighbor.
Developer Christopher Maddalone owns an apartment building next to the bar, and his insurance company wrote a letter last year saying the drainage problem was caused by his property, Town Homes of Union Square.
The company, Harleysville Preferred Insurance Co., said that it would not pay for any further damage because Maddalone had not taken steps to fix the drainage. Maddalone has contested that decision.
Fordham also sued him, but that lawsuit hasn’t gone to trial yet. In the meantime, she said she simply ran out of money to keep the bar going.
“We were losing money faster than we were taking it in,” she said.
Last week, water poured through the back wall again during the heavy rainstorms. National Grid pulled out its meters, which were on that wall.
That was the death knell, but Fordham said she knew it was coming.
“We can’t pay everybody anymore,” she said. “We just wanted to get through our goodbye weekend.”
That was supposed to be this weekend. But with the electricity cut, the celebration is canceled.
“I am very sad,” Fordham said. “If he would’ve taken care of this a year and a half ago. ... Now I have lost the equity in my property. We can’t sell the building. It’s structurally damaged.”
The water partially undermined the back wall of the cellar.
In addition to the damage, Fordham said she lost about $90,000 in income because of the repeated flooding — both in unsold or damaged food and lost business.
“How do I recoup that and keep going?” she said.
On many occasions, the bar had to close because of sudden flooding from rain or snow melt. And when it was open, she said the damp building discouraged customers from coming in.
“This winter, we couldn’t get the [flooded] furnace to work right. If they were open, it was so cold people don’t want to be there,” she said. “And in the spring, you can smell the moisture. People don’t want to be there.”
Still, she kept hoping they could stop the flooding and make permanent repairs.
“We all assumed we were going to get paid,” she said.
Maddalone said he could not comment on the matter because it was in litigation, but he said her closure had nothing to do with him.
“It’s not the 26 other bars in the neighborhood, it’s me?” he said in disgust.
Fordham and her sons will be cleaning out the bar next weekend, then they’re leaving the area. Months ago, Fordham got a job in Florida, and one of her sons has joined her there. The other is heading to New Orleans.
“We’re leaving the city,” she said. “It’s not the way we wanted to leave things. I thought for sure I’d be selling, not closing.”
She ran the Union Inn for eight years, but it has been known by that name for decades, and the 147-year-old building has been a bar for more than a century. During Prohibition, it was turned into a shoe store, but rooms in the basement suggest it was actually a speakeasy.
“The bar has quite a history,” Fordham said.