We’ve always been a little confounded by the property at 342 W. Girard Ave., which you might know as the home of Trios Pizza. This parcel is quite large, covering over 8,000 sqft, but the building on the property covers only about half of the land, with the rest used for surface parking. Not for nothing, but it’s not so common for a neighborhood pizza joint to enjoy so much dedicated parking in this part of town, so we were curious how this came to happen. It turns out, the building dates back to the late 1960s, and was built as a Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s been a couple different restaurants over the intervening years, with Trios being the latest occupant as of roughly ten years ago.

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Trios Pizza at 4th & Girard

Though Trios is still operating, it seems their days are numbered, at least at this location. Last month, developers came to the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association and asked for community support for a variance to demolish the building on the site and to construct a six-story building with retail on the first floor and 50 apartments on the floors above. This project would result in a number of zoning refusals, including height and density, and getting a thumbs up from the neighborhood would go a long way to getting the necessary variance from the ZBA. Given the size and density here, it should come as no surprise that the project is currently undergoing some changes and will return for another go-round with the neighborhood. Still, it stands to reason that some kind of project should soon be happening here, utilizing this property in a more appropriate fashion than today. Bummer about Trios though, they serve a pretty good slice.

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Renovated restaurant space to the east

While this block will lose one restaurant (though perhaps Trios could return in the retail space in a new building?), it should eventually gain one just a few doors to the east. 332 W. Girard Ave. was once home to a pizza joint but was shuttered and blighted for a few years before a renovation around 2018. The landlords for the building came to the community last year to get support for a special exemption for a restaurant in anticipation of signing a lease with a European-American bar concept. We don’t know whether that lease was ever signed, but assuming it was, we have to think the project is on hold until such a time that a restaurant could be profitably opened here. And if that deal fell through, the special exemption was granted so we could see a different concept open here, hopefully someday soon.

Demolition on the 400 block

Yet another restaurant is certainly possible in a different building that’s coming soon on the 400 block of W. Girard. You may recall, earlier this year, we told you that the industrial building at 416 W. Girard Ave. would be demoed and replaced with a three-story building with retail downstairs and six units on the upper floors. We kvetched at the time that this seemed like too small a building for this location and commented that it was happening as a matter or right. We also proposed that this stretch of Girard be remapped to CMX-2.5, to allow by-right development of taller and denser buildings on the corridor. This would not only have likely resulted in a better building at 416 W. Girard, but it would have reduced the variance threshold for the upcoming development at the Trios location and possibly allowed for something workable to get built by right. Thinking about it, perhaps the lack of by-right development is kind of the point here- so maybe remapping isn’t in the cards here any time soon.