Boutique Hotel Will Fill Former Restaurant Supply Store in Old City

Old City has been a hub of activity for the restaurant supply business for the last century, but not so much anymore. Back in 2017, the neighborhood’s two remaining restaurant suppliers – Economy and Swift – had put their buildings up for sale. The building on the southeast corner of 2nd & Arch Street at 69-71 N. 2nd St. was one of the Economy properties that switched hands, and we only heard vague rumblings about its future when Economy moved to its current home further north on 2nd Street in 2019. We now have some more info, but before we get to the exciting news, let’s take a moment to appreciate the site in the past and present. And let’s throw in a fly-over video just for kicks.

Corner of 2nd & Arch in 1959, home to Aetna Stove Co.
Current view of site
Close up of front facade looking a bit worn

A recent zoning permit has confirmed some of the rumors that have been swirling over the last few years. Approval was granted for a conversion of the former Economy building to a boutique hotel with four units and a rather sexy bar and restaurant taking up the basement and first floor. Given the size of the building, we would think that it could accommodate quite a few more rooms, so we are thinking that this hotel will be on the higher end, offering larger sized units, maybe even as a pure Airbnb model. Thanks to a listing from Tristate Commercial Realty, we are able to provide some clues around what to expect from the outside and the restaurant space.

Rendering of future hotel and restaurant - so long, fire escapes
Interior rendering of proposed restaurant space
Rendering of basement with some private spaces within the bricks

This is extremely exciting news for this corner, as the northern end of Old City isn’t teeming with restaurants and bars compared to south of Market Street. And wouldn’t you know it, there are a couple other projects currently on-going in the other Economy properties we previously brought to your attention. One such project is just to the south of this site at 59 N. 2nd St. at a former warehouse. A building permit was issued in December for the soon be 14-unit building, and work appears to be slowly progressing.

The red brick 59 N. 2nd, with the future hotel on the corner
59 N. 2nd St., with some Amberella hearts next door
Elevation drawing shows planned addition

Just to the north, yet another Economy building is getting the residential treatment. The handsome building at 124-26 N. 2nd St. will soon be four very large condos. Astoban Realty is developing the project and we have some fine-looking interior renderings to give you an idea of the new digs. The only currently available unit is going for $1.85M, so get in while you still can.

124-26 N. 2nd St. well underway
Close up of ground floor facade
Rendering of interiors, looking out at the National across the street
Expansive interiors looking quite inviting

One corner that has remained surprisingly the same since our last check-in is at the southwest corner of 2nd & Race, where a few different proposals have come down the line. Back in the summer of 2016, we told you about a five-story apartment proposal with ground floor commercial from Canno Design. Then in 2018, a 19-story design was released mimicking the size and scale of the Bridge on Race apartments just across the street. This Morris Adjmi-designed hotel and condo tower was the victim of zoning, falling just outside of the much more permissive bridge approach zoning overlay adopted back in 2013. Most recently, a scaled-back, six-story apartment designed by Ambit Architecture was proposed, but thus far this corner remains the same as always, with Swift moving restaurant supplies as swiftly as ever.

Current view at corner of 2nd & Race
Original five story proposal from 2016, from Canno Design
Another past proposal from Morris Adjmi Architects
And the most recent Ambit-designed proposal

But fear not, development fans, as all is not lost. A recent Loopnet listing we have been monitoring for a collection of parcels at 148-58 N. 2nd St. appears to have been removed only yesterday. The one building on this stretch that is not included in the portfolio happens to be available in a separate listing. Might this mean things are afoot at long last? There are no recent sales or permits for any of these properties, but with everything else happening in the vicinity, we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see things finally move forward soon. And because most of these buildings are in the local historic district, figure any future designs will likely feature a combination of new construction and adaptive reuse.