While development abounds in all directions from the prominent corner at Frankford & Girard at the beating heart of Fishtown, things along the north side of Girard have been a bit suboptimal in terms of retail near this intersection. While the modern multi-family development at 17 W. Girard Ave. is now framed up, two large retail spaces on Girard near Front Street are sitting vacant. The former 7-11 at 23-29 W. Girard Ave., however, has a big update in the works.

A closer look at the property, with fencing a sign of things to come
Looking north under the El along Front St. today

That fence you see is due to the upcoming demolition of the building, per just-issued zoning permits. In case you forgot what was coming here since we told you about the proposal two years ago, a JKRP-designed project will soon create a more welcoming edifice than the chain-link fence. This by-right project will bring 107 units to the CMX-3 zoned lot, along with 5,500 sqft of retail fronting Girard Ave. and parking for 28 cars and 47 bikes accessible from E. Stiles St. to the north. The building will feature brick over the first five floors, before lighter panels top off the remaining two stories. Let’s check out this contemporary take on a traditional look.

A rendering looking east across Girard Ave.
An aerial shot shows the building's proximity to MFL
Site plan shows retail along Girard Ave. and parking access via E. Stiles St.
View from Girard & Frankford, with construction in the foreground and the MFL station in the background

To say this is a step up from an empty 7-11 is obviously a massive understatement. Any site this close to a major subway line should house as many people as possible, especially when compared to a one-story commercial space surrounded by parking. It will be extremely interesting to see what sort of retail or commercial tenant will take the ground floor space, as we could envision everything from a high-end restaurant to the return of a convenience store taking the space. However, we may lean more toward the former if plans for the area under the El come to fruition.

The local business improvement district here, Fishtown Kensington Area BID, part of Fishtown District, has plans to spruce up what is currently an intersection that has an abundance of potential. After rounds of public engagement, architects ISA have put together plans to both beautify and tie together some of the key intersections along the Fishtown corridor. One of those corners is right here, and it could look dramatically different in the future thanks to a standardized design language that will also provide retail opportunities and wayfinding.

A rendering of what the corner could look like in the future

These changes, while seemingly small on their own, should dramatically improve the corridor. Will the former Jumbo Theater/Dollar Tree next door finally see development to tie everything together? We don’t see any movement as of late, but we could see this empty storefront get an upgrade sooner than later if things continue at this pace.