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Ex-Division Street Disco to Become 6 Apartments, with 1 Shop or Eatery

By Alisa Hauser | March 9, 2015 9:56am

WICKER PARK —  A building that was converted from a disco hall into a single-family home in the late 1980s will be welcoming its next chapter, as a six-unit apartment building with one ground-level retail spot, led by an Uptown developer.

The two-story, 84-year-old building at 1902-05 W. Division St. in Wicker Park was sold for $2 million in January to a venture led by Jeffrey Michael, according to county records.

Michael is an executive with Horizon Realty Group. The family-run firm owns several buildings in Uptown and rents out one property in the local area — apartments at 1914 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown.

Just east of Damen Avenue and surrounded by restaurants, the plan is to preserve the brick building but add two more floors.

Conceptual rendering by Bugaj Architects:

"Keeping former disco in mind, we might do some tastefully disco themed moments in the building!," joked architect Anna Bugaj in an email, which included photos of the former stage.

Last month, members of the Wicker Park Committee voted 21-1 to support Michael's zoning change request, which would allow for the construction of a four-story, 12,854-square-foot building with six apartments and one 2,400-square-foot retail space.

The six three-bedroom apartments, to be designed by Bugaj's Noble Square firm, will range between 1,300-1,500 square feet.

The apartments will have private elevator access, exposed brick walls and feature an open loft design with large kitchens. There will be covered garage parking too.

"The exterior as well as interior will have a feel of modern minimalist warm restoration... It’s almost this factory loft feel," Bugaj said, adding, "But, the overall idea of this project is to give families an alternative from owning a house. Not everyone is wired for owning a house but would love to live in a unit that feels like a house." 

Ed Tamminga, chairman of the group's preservation and development committee, said, "The units are planned as rentals for now and we are glad to see there might be a new tenant on Division. Hopefully it's retail and not a dry cleaner or nail salon."

Michael was not immediately available for comment on the plan, but Doug Renner, a broker from Baum Realty, who recently put up a sign advertising that the retail space is for rent, said the commercial spot could be ideal for a new restaurant or retail store.

There is space in the back of the building for an outdoor garden or patio, according to a Baum Realty marketing brochure.

Since 1989, the home was owned by Arthur Detrich and Heidi Hough.

The enterprising couple maintained an expansive roof top garden, using sub-irrigated planters from nearby Alliance Bakery and the Vienna Beef factory to keep their crops watered with rain water.

"Yes, we sold the building after 26 years. Time for a new adventure," Hough said by email late Sunday.

Hough and Detrich in their rooftop garden above 1904 W. Division St., in a pipeline 2009 blog post.  Hough's blog, greenroofgrowers, was co-written with a neighbor who also has a rooftop garden on nearby Ellen Street.

Johnny Nieves, manager of All-Day Tire shop at 1900 W. Division St., next to the building, recalled hanging out in the building, once a disco hall, as a teenager.

"Before it was Heidi and Art's place it used to be a nightclub with a disco and a motel on top. The disco was from 1970s to 1985.  I was around 16 years old when I went there.  I looked like a man, acted like a man, got in like a man. It was mainly Puerto Rican and Spanish [clientele]; like salsa, meringue, disco dancing," said Nieves, now 55.

Nieves said he could not recall the name of the disco but would try to find out.

Nieves said Hough would often bring him and the guys at the tire shop food from the garden or freshly baked goods.

"I miss them, they just left a few weeks ago," Nieves said.

The couple also had an Airstream trailer inside their home, which was left behind, Bugaj said.

1904 W Division St. Brochure by Baum Realty