The former Chicago Music Store building downtown is expected to house a CVS drugstore, pending corporate approval.

The national chain has signed a letter of intent to occupy the historic building at 130 E. Congress, agreeing to maintain the facade.

The Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District board on Tuesday received a presentation by the building owners, Marcel Dabdoub and Ron Schwabe, who bought the 21,000-square-foot building last year with investors.

The board voted unanimously to direct attorney Mark Collins to amend a previous agreement that would have funded $2 million to be repaid by the developers. Instead, the district will keep that money and let Dabdoub and Schwabe keep a portion of the sales tax they generate on the CVS deal and several other projects the duo have downtown.

The investment the developers are making downtown is about $35 million.

“It’s a sign of a real urban life when a drugstore makes that kind of commitment,” Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker said.

The Chicago Store, which closed its doors in spring 2016, is now in a smaller location downtown at 45 S. Sixth Ave. The Chicago Music Store opened in 1918 and had three locations in the downtown area before moving to the Congress space in 1967. A second Chicago Music Store is at 5646 E. Speedway.

The downtown 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.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at


Gabriela's newspaper career began at the Tucson Citizen in '86 as the "movie-times girl" where she'd call local theaters for showtimes. Since then, she's written about crime, education, immigration, trade and business. She's been with the Star since 2007.