Despite being in the heart of the city and seemingly “here” for ages, Old City has seen some pretty remarkable changes over the last decade or so. We touched upon this recently in our Time Traveling series, but the changes near 2nd & Race St. from exactly a decade ago in July 2013 to earlier this year are pretty striking.

TheBen-00 2013
Looking west towards 2nd & Race St., formerly two one-story buildings and a surface lot
The same view looking a touch different back in the Spring

If you think that contrast is stark, just wait until the SW corner at 160-64 N. 2nd St. joins the party. There have been numerous plans at this corner over the years, but it was almost exactly a year ago when we told you about a design for The Ben, a six-unit condo building with ground-floor commercial space that had been approved by the Historical Commission. The application to Historic gave us a wonderful look at what was in store for this project from developers BVG Property Group and architects MORRISSEY. Things had been steadily moving forward on this smallish corner parcel, with the stairwells hinting at the scale of what was to come. But just the other day, steel started going vertical, so we made our way to the corner to check out the exciting progress.

Active steel work taking place at 2nd & Race
A rendering of the six-story structure
Looking NW from a closer angle
The future view from the same angle
Additional renderings show off the lobby entrance and interiors
Neutral tones and amazing windows (and views) for the primary bedroom

We are huge fans of the design here, with top-notch materials pairing with a refined, modern touch to create something that will definitely make a statement across from the gorgeously jaunty Bridge on Race by Gluck+ across the street. Things are not 100% finalized with the project, however, as the team is making a return to the ZBA next week with hopes of adding three parking spaces instead of a second commercial space fronting 2nd Street. Once that is determined, we’d imagine things will be full steam ahead for this shining new structure forming something of a welcoming committee with the Bridge, greeting pedestrians as they make their way from the Delaware River Waterfront into Old City.

A less welcoming view greets folks as they walk down the block and reach 200 Quarry St., where weathered lumber holding the structure in place creates a grim grid on what is supposed to be a huge single-family home. We checked in back in 2020, when the shell of the building was open and awaiting some love. After major signs of progress for a five-bed/five-bath home, including a new gabled dormer, things have been completely stagnant here for over a year, save for the removal of a fence that was intruding on the sidewalk.

Weeds and lumber framing greets those approaching from Elfreth's Alley

We have no idea what’s happening here, as a series of violations were issued this April, all of which appear to still be open. Let’s hope this wraps up and helps make N. 2nd St. a corridor that is nearly as appealing as the absurdly quaint N. 3rd St. just a block away.