UPTOWN — For 15 years, the squat, brick building at 4071 N. Broadway served as an artist work/live space for an Uptown couple.
Now, the couple wants to open up the building’s storefront for the first time in two decades, and hopefully help transform a dormant stretch of Broadway.
Husband-and-wife duo David Hinkamp and Lu Rocha have lived in the former commercial building on Broadway just north of Irving Park Road since 2005.
From the outside, the building looks like a vacant storefront, with blinds pulled over the windows and a blank sign. The building is next to a U-Haul business and is across the street from a storage facility.
The inside, however, is a sleek, 7,300-square-foot loft-style live/work space where the couple works on their own projects and hosts students working on art projects.
For the first time since owning the building, Hinkamp and Rocha are seeking to overhaul the building’s Broadway-facing facade.
The idea is to have Rocha’s two businesses move into the storefronts. Rocha owns Lu Rocha Counseling Services and Multicultural Consulting Services, which would relocate to the Uptown building from Albany Park.
To do so, the couple will install new windows in the building and dye the brick facade, with renderings showing the building taking on a gray hue. New lighting would be installed on the building, and storefront greenspace is planned. The blank marquee will be removed.
“Our intent is to make it look really sharp,” Hinkamp said. “It will be a lot cleaner, a lot more modern looking. I’m excited about it.”
Before renovating the space, Hinkamp and Rocha need a zoning change. The building is currently zoned for heavier commercial use, since it neighbors a U-Haul business and a storage facility. (The artist space has been allowed through a special-use permit.)
That rezoning request was the subject of a community meeting Tuesday, where neighbors and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said the storefront could help the dreary stretch of Broadway.
Cappleman said his work with the Buena Park Block Club has focused on this block of Broadway, where loitering and drinking have been a problem.
On Saturday, a 34-year-old Northwestern Hospital worker was shot just feet from the artist live/work space. A note left by detectives on a nearby building sought the public’s help in finding the shooter.
The new businesses could help “put more life” into this stretch of Broadway, Cappleman said at Tuesday’s meeting.
“It was just a very difficult thing to tackle,” Cappleman said of improving Broadway north of Irving Park. “We want to make this an area where people walk.”
Hinkamp, M.D., is an occupational health specialist who is the director of the Health In The Arts program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. As part of the program, Hinkamp’s students work on art projects that deal with the occupational hazards of work in the arts and other professions. Over the years, Hinkamp’s students have used his arts space on Broadway to work on their projects.
Hinkamp and Rocha were looking for a place to live and work when they found the vacant building at 4107 N. Broadway. The building was only for lease at the time, but the couple convinced the owner to sell it, Hinkamp said.
The facility used to house a dentist clinic, split up into about 25 clinic rooms, Hinkamp said. It also had a leaky roof and other structural issues.
Over the years, the building has been turned into a modern work space and living area. Now, the couple is ready to transform the building into a new, more public-facing structure.
“When we were looking for a place, [Rocha] said, ‘I just want a box where we can do what we want to,” Hinkamp said of how the couple ended up living behind the Broadway storefront. “I told my wife, ‘I got a box for you.'”
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.