We were making our way through Old City the other day and it struck us that a new building had sprouted on the 100 block of N. 2nd Street, seemingly overnight. Okay, overnight is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s undeniable that the progress at The National project at 109-131 N. 2nd St. is nothing short of amazing. It was merely half a year ago that we last covered this property, shortly after a groundbreaking ceremony. At that time, the site was still sitting largely vacant, though there was evidence of some early site work. Today, it’s a very different story.
For those that aren’t familiar with this property or its history, there was a historic building on this site until last year, and the building was best known as the home of restaurant supplier National Products Company. The use wasn’t particularly special, as many restaurant supply companies were based out of Old City back in the day. But National sought to differentiate from their competition by covering the facade of their building with orange tiles, which indeed gave their building a very distinct appearance. That unique facade ultimately resulted in the building getting designated as historic in 2002.
Unfortunately, those orange tiles weren’t manufactured for exterior use and a combination of the passage of time and lax maintenance resulted in many of the tiles cracking over the years. The developers of the project were able to get a hardship exemption from the Historical Commission to demolish the old building with the failing facade, but had to agree to recreate the look of the old facade in the design of the new building. While the orange tile phase of construction hasn’t started just yet, a rendering of the project shows us what we can expect.
As we told you, the project will ultimately entail a six-story building with 192 apartments and a 2,000 sqft retail space. The construction timeline from our previous story suggested a completed project by the summer of 2018, which we thought seemed hopelessly optimistic at the time. We still don’t see how that will possibly happen, but given the pace of construction thus far, we don’t know that we can rule it out, either.