We’ve been at this blog writing gig for a long time, and with all the years that have gone by, we’ve seen numerous properties go through different iterations, warranting multiple stories over time. With today’s post, 23-29 W. Girard Ave. will join that exclusive club, perhaps setting the record on longest time between stories. Way back in October of 2011, we told you that 7-11 would be opening at this location, replacing a shuttered combination KFC-Long John Silvers which looked “like it was once on fire.”
We were a bit bummed about the rather droll plan, and wondered whether the area within half a block of the El might remain a little more rugged than the rest of the surrounding neighborhood due to the significant commuter traffic, along with the noise of the train and the shadow of the tracks. At that time, Fishtown and South Kensington were still in the relatively early stages of what has become a major development boom, and this seemed like a minor missed opportunity, but really no big whoop in the grand scheme. With all the changes we’ve seen up and down Front Street in the last decade though, the 7-11 now qualifies as a rather significant underuse, and feels like a rather obvious candidate for demolition and replacement with something newer, taller, and mixed-use-ier.
Obviously, that’s exactly what’s happening here. Developers are planning to demolish the 7-11 building and construct a new mixed-use building on the site. The seven-story building will have 107 apartments, just under 5,500 sqft of retail space on Girard Avenue, and 29 parking spots. The project is permitted as a matter of right, but the size of the development will necessitate at least one Civic Design Review presentation, which occurred today. As usual, CDR is providing us with some project renderings, which were done by JKRP Architects.
Given that the project is permitted by right and makes all kinds of sense, we see it as a foregone conclusion that the project will move forward and could break ground as early as the end of this year. With this project ostensibly starting sometime soon, we feel compelled to turn our attention to the building next door, which is currently sitting vacant. Most recently, this building was home to a Dollar Tree, but you can see there’s a sign on the building advertising 14K sqft for lease.
This blah looking building has some terrific history, having once been the Jumbo Theater.
Unfortunately, from what we understand, all of the interior details that were left from the theater were covered over when the building was renovated back in 2011. You may recall, Avram Hornik had a plan to renovate the Jumbo into a bar/restaurant/performance venue around 2008, but the community shot down the idea due to fears of noise and traffic, which ultimately led to the opening of a discount store in the space. With just about all the history sucked out of the building, we wouldn’t object to its demolition at this point.
Using the plan for 23-29 W. Girard Ave. as a guide, another mid-rise apartment building would seem fairly intuitive here. To be honest, we wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen, and given the proximity to transit, it would seem like a win-win. Of course, if any original details have survived at the old Jumbo, we also wouldn’t object to a revisiting of Hornik’s plan from way back when, assuming he still has any degree of interest in the property. That’s probably a pipe dream at this point, however.