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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After a year-and-a-half under construction, Philadelphia’s historic Bourse Building is now just weeks away from a grand reopening. Sitting in the heart of America’s most historic block in Old City, the old commodities and exchange building now houses an upscale food court and specialty shops.
“We delivered these 30 vendors. This building was practically vacant and we’re already 50-percent leased,” says Charley McGrath, the managing director at MRP Realty.
MRP Realty has been developing the site.
“What it really highlights is the original architecture of the building was always meant to create a sense of community and that’s exactly what we’re returning it to,” adds McGrath.
The building opened in 1895 and for the past 25 years in Philadelphia, it served as a souvenir lover’s dream. But things were getting run down, and developer MRP Realty wanted to make a big change.
Construction crews went to work over the past 18 months, pulling up ugly 1980s tile and discovering the original 1895 tile underneath.
The original tile has stall numbers where the original vendors stood in the 1890s.
Now, new vendors like La Lo are on those same stall spots. Jill Encarnacion owns La Lo, which serves Filipino comfort food. Working here is personal for Encarnacion since her late grandfather operated a food cart for 35 years in front of the building.
“Every time I have guests of his come to our stall I get a little choked up. I have to stop and compose myself,” says Encarnacion.
Just a few days ago some of the restaurants in the Bourse opened for what they call a soft opening.
All of the restaurants will be open on Nov. 15.
“As you’re wrapping it up, you know you’re probably never gonna have another building like this. It’s truly a gem,” says McGrath.
The next chapter in this building’s 123-year history will be written in the fall.