We last looked at the southeast corner of 4th & Girard a little less than a year ago, noting that local pizza joint Trios would soon be closing after about a decade holding down this corner. At the time, we noted that Trios occupied a sub-optimally utilized property on the border between Northern Liberties and South Kensington, with only a small one story building surrounded by surface parking. This surely made sense when the building was constructed here in the 1960s for a KFC franchise, but given what’s happened to the south over the last twenty years or so, and to the north over the last decade, this was no longer the highest and best use for this 8,000 sqft parcel.
When we wrote our story, we noted that developers were looking to build a six-story building here with 50 apartments and ground-floor retail. Because the property is zoned CMX-2, this kind of project required a zoning variance and we predicted that the project might undergo some significant changes as it weaves its way through the community process. Maybe it changed some, but according to public record, the project did indeed receive a variance and the zoning permit calls for a 6-story building with 50 units over commercial. It also indicates 9 parking spots, but we don’t know whether those were added as part of the community process or they were always part of the plan. Hightop Development is the group behind the project, and with construction starting soon, here’s a rendering to show what’s to come:
While we’re here, me might as well also provide an update on another project, ongoing just down the street. An industrial building stood for years at 416 W. Girard Ave., most recently serving as home to American Metals. In early 2020, as the building was going to be demolished, we told you to expect a three-story building to rise in its place, with ground-floor retail and six apartments upstairs. This was a bit of a disappointment to us, as we would have liked to see something taller, like, say, the project that’s soon going to start moving at 4th & Girard. Given that this property is quite a bit smaller than its neighbor to the east, we would have been quite comfortable with four stories, if we’re being honest.
And wouldn’t you know it, the developers made a slight pivot and the building picked up a 7th unit and a 4th floor. While we’d like even more density, we won’t quibble much with this project now that it’s appropriately going up to four stories. Given the width of Girard Avenue, the 4th floor is wholly appropriate, as almost everyone would agree. With the height now in line with expectation, we’ll be interested to see what kinds of businesses fill the new retail space in this project and the other one down the block. With thousands of new residents expected to fill the immediate area in the coming years, these should be highly desirable commercial locations, as should any retail space along this section of the Girard Avenue corridor.