The historic Chicago Music Store is selling its equally historic building downtown and moving steps away in the hopes of returning to the building once it’s renovated.

The sale of the building to local investors is expected to be finalized at the end of February, said developer Marcel Dabdoub, who is buying the property along with business partner Ron Schwabe and investors from Nogales, Sonora.

“It is a great building. We loved its history, its architectural style and its location,” Dabdoub said. “We understand the historic and cultural value that the Tucson community places on this building and we’re going to be cognizant of that as we renovate.”

Possible plans for the building include office space upstairs and a mix of retail on the first floor, mezzanine and basement, Dabdoub said.

“We approached the Chicago Music Store about leasing a portion of the building back to them, and they seem to be weighing their options,” he said. “The building is part of their legacy. We would like that to continue.”

Dabdoub said the building is structurally sound and the exterior won’t be altered, expect possibly for signage and entrances and exits.

“It’s a very unique building and we have to get it right,” he said. “Unlike other commercial or office buildings, this one has a lot of its own character.”

sticking downtown

The 21,155 square-foot building, at 130 E. Congress, once housed massive speakers and mixing tables for rent.

“The mixing console has been replaced by an iPad,” Chicago stores’s CEO David Fregonese said of the reason for moving to smaller quarters. “We no longer need 20 square feet of floor space for speakers.”

The smaller store will still be downtown, within walking distance of the existing store, he said. He expects to make an announcement of the new location early next year.

Once the historic building is renovated, the Chicago Music Store could become a tenant in one of the retail spaces.

“We’re talking, on a regular basis, to the new owners about returning to that space,” Fregonese said. “We look at the new location as transitional or we may end up with two smaller spaces near each other.”

The Chicago Music Store opened in 1918 and had three locations in the downtown area before moving to the current space in 1967. A second Chicago Store, at 5646 E. Speedway, opened three years ago.

staying local

CBRE Broker Buzz Isaacson, who represented the sellers, was relieved the building landed in the hands of local investors.

“The Chicago Music Store is part of Tucson history. The new ownership team understands the importance of the building to the community,” he said. “This is a very fun deal to be part of.”

The building was constructed in 1903, according to the National Register of Historic Places, for the Los Angeles Furniture Store. JC Penney was the tenant from 1927 to 1957.

Aaronson Brothers moved in some time after that, then it was sold to the owners of the Chicago Music Store in 1967.

The architecture is Commercial Palatial Style, the work of Tucson architect David Holmes. Many of the original features have been preserved.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at

grico@tucson.com