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.
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.
So perhaps you're wondering why we're revisiting this property today, only a couple months after our last update. It's mostly thanks to a reader that we presume lives in the neighborhood that gave us the heads up that the old building is now totally gone. The block looks oddly empty without the National building, though it surely won't look like this for long.
If you find yourself in the neighborhood, we suggest you make it a point to walk past before the new building gets underway in the coming months. This part of the block hasn't looked like this since sometime in the 1800s and it shouldn't again in any of our lifetimes.