Old City

But it'll be back soon enough

Some of the buildings at 109-131 N. 2nd St. had been there since the 19th century, but they took on a distinct personality in the 1950s when the National Products Company clad the first floors in orange tile. Looking like nothing else in Philadelphia, the property received historic designation in 2002 despite the fact that its distinguishing characteristics only dated back a few decades. Since National cleared out of the building in the mid-1990s, it had sat mostly vacant, with multiple redevelopment plans coming and going over the years.

In the past

A couple months ago, we told you that a plan was finally moving forward to redevelop the property. Despite the historic designation, developers from the Dale Corporation got permission to demolish the building and replace it with a six-story building with 192 apartments and ground-floor retail. The project will recreate the historic first-floor facade, using tiles that will better survive the elements. It will also reuse some of the amazing metal signage. Here's an old rendering which will give you an idea of what we can expect.

After decades of vacancy

Making your way up 2nd Street in Old City, it's impossible to miss the orange tile clad National Products building. Though the history of the neighborhood is wrapped up in 18th and 19th century structures, the building at 109-31 N. 2nd St., featuring Modern-style cladding from the 1950s, was designated historic in 2002. When that historic designation occurred, the former restaurant supply store had already been sitting vacant for six years. Since the store closed, several projects have come down the pike for this property. Most recently, in early 2012, we declared that the building would finally come back to life. It took a few more years but it's finally happening.

Hopefully will be done by the end of next year

The other day we were ambling around Old City and found a giant hole at 2nd & Race. We've been doing this real estate blogging thing for years and can't think of many holes we've been happier to see in person. See, this one has been in the works for a really long time.

Fencing around the site
They'll need a crane

Our compadre over at the Philly Business Journal, Natalie Kostelni, had the scoop on the groundbreaking for the Bridge on Race Street back in August. In her story, she noted that Brown Hill Development bought the property fifteen years ago and that their plans for the property changed over time. A decade ago, plans emerged for a ten-story condo building but then the financial meltdown happened and the project landed on the shelf.

This is instead of a project nixed by the ZBA

Old City has been going through tremendous change lately. Whether it’s from big projects like One Water or the Bridge, or smaller ones like the development of townhomes, parking lots are turning into functional cityscape at a surprising rate

New drawings show an improved project but our major issue lingers

Yesterday's story about the ZBA approvals for the project at 401 Race Street inspired some heated conversation in the comments section, and also caught the attention of Barton Partners, the project architects. A representative was kind enough to send us an updated CDR submission which contains revised renderings for the project. We haven't seen these images anywhere else, so we thought it would be a good idea to pass 'em along. First though, we'll revisit the renderings from yesterday, for the sake of comparison.

Old rendering at 4th & Race
Old rendering at 5th & Race

Okay, now the new stuff: