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.
Aside from the striking facade, you'll probably also notice that the building is currently being demolished. Peeking through the windows in the photo above, you can see there's already been some significant progress. According to the developers' presentation to the Historical Commission about a year ago, the buildings behind the facade were much older than the cladding, but they aren't considered historically significant. Despite the fact that the cladding is considered historic, the developers have permission to demolish the entire structure, tiles included, because the tiles have been too damaged by the passage of time.
Once the demolition is complete, developers from Dale Corporation will build a new six-story building with 192 rental apartments and ground-floor retail, according to the Inquirer. The design of the building includes the reconstruction of the orange tile wall using new tiles which should better survive the elements. Some of the metal signage will also be reused. The envelope of the building will be almost the same as the project that was approved back in 2011, but the look of the building will differ. We reached out to the developers, asking for new renderings, but they didn't have anything to share. So lacking anything new, here's a look at a rendering from about a year ago.
Assuming that the year-old renderings are indeed what we'll see rising here, we appreciate the contemporary architecture for the upper floors with the orange details, hinting at the reconstructed historic wall below. Mostly though, we'll be pleased to see this Old City landmark finally returning to active use. Once demo is done and construction begins, we'll start the speculation on what kind of retail tenants to expect.