EDGEWATER — The tiny, tucked-away auto shop at 5517 N. Broadway, which has been around since the early 1900s, hasn't been used in years.
But that's about to change.
Michelle and Robyn Lytle, the Andersonville duo behind The TaTa Top who also run Michelle Lytle Photography together, bought the building in October and are getting ready to breathe new life into it.
"Edgewater has gone through a lot of changes and is on the up-and-up already, so we're just looking to continue that growth," Michelle Lytle .
The city approved a $519,640 rehab of the 3,200-square-foot building that the Lytles will transform into an office, photography studio, and more.
Michelle Lytle said at first the building will serve as mainly a place for her and Robyn to get day-to-day work done. That includes fulfilling orders for their online business, which sells the bikini tops that feature images of nipples as a statement against nudity laws that ban women from going topless.
The garage will also be used to house their photo studio.
They're currently in the fundraising stage for a third business, one that will directly give back to Edgewater and surrounding areas, Michelle Lytle said.
She said until funding is more secure, she's not ready to reveal her plans, but the building will ultimately become "much more than a photography studio" and it will be community-focused.
Their TaTa Top business has raised more than $30,000 for women's health-care groups, Michelle Lytle said, and portions of all pet photography bookings go to animal shelters — but now they want to ensure they leave a positive impact on their neighbors, too.
"There are a lot of awesome organizations, like Edgewater Reads and a lot of the community-focused organizations, so we're excited to be part of that and really help that in any way we can," she said.
A view of the property at 5517 N. Broadway, which sits far back from the classic gray two-flat beside it. [Provided/Michelle Lytle Photography]
The couple said they want to plant roots in the Edgewater community, which is why they chose to buy the former Jeongs Auto Service garage and attached building along North Broadway.
The building is set far back from the sidewalk and street and sits next to a gray two-flat — the last of a row of similar buildings that date to the early 1900s, according to historical accounts.
A 1905 fire insurance map shows the plot as an "auto barn." According to the Edgewater Historical Society, a directory from January 1923 listed the address as the Edgewater Tin Shop and Edgewater Hardware Store.
Though Michelle Lytle said she'd heard it suggested the building should be demolished and rebuilt to fit in with nearby storefronts, she said she "didn't want to do that at all."
The couple plans to renovate the building from top-to-bottom to get the property up to code and give it a more modern look, including installing a garage door with glass panels, but they plan to preserve the overall structure of the two-story building.
While Michelle Lytle has owned the photography business for 12 years, Robyn began working with her on-and-off for four years before coming on full-time two years ago — around the time the couple married.
Working together is one of their greatest joys, Michelle Lytle said.
"We just love spending time together and being together, while we're working or on weekends," she said with a chuckle. "So it's great."
Michelle (l.) and Robyn (r.) Lytle during a wedding photo shoot together in Saint Kitts. [Provided/Michelle Lytle Photography]
Interior of the garage. [Provided/Michelle Lytle Photography]
The roof over the garage and second-floor, which will also be converted. [Provided/Michelle Lytle Photography]
The upstairs of the building at 5517 N. Broadway. [Provided/Michelle Lytle Photography]
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