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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Lincoln Square’s DANK Haus Eyes $2.3 Million Renovation To Improve Accessibility

The German American cultural center and nonprofit is applying for TIF funds to upgrade the bathrooms, front entrance and aging plumbing at the Western Avenue building.

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center in Lincoln Square.
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LINCOLN SQUARE — DANK Haus German American Cultural Center cleared the first hurdle Tuesday toward securing $1.5 million in city funding to make its longtime home more accessible to the public.

The center and nonprofit, 4740 N. Western Ave., wants to use TIF funds to begin a $2.3 million overhaul to make its bathrooms and front entrance meet American Disability Act standards, and upgrade the building’s aging plumbing, Executive Director Monica Jirak said.

The city’s Community Development Commission approved the proposal Tuesday as the first step in a lengthy process to free up TIF funding.

The nonprofit was founded in 1959 and bought the Western Avenue location in 1967.

The building dates back to the 1920s, with the bathroom plumbing and front entrance built to outdated standards, Jirak said.

Applying for the TIF funds is something the nonprofit has been working on for many years, Jirak said. 

“We serve the surrounding community and are the center of German culture but also community,” Jirak said. “These funds will really allow us to be even more accessible to the public.”  

Credit: Rendering by Evelina Urbonaite
A rendering of the proposed changes to DANK Haus to make its entrance meet ADA standards.

In addition to the nonprofit’s monthly open house and regular events, the Dank HAUS also serves as the fundraising and meeting venue for 40 area schools, cultural organizations and other nonprofits, Jirak said.

Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) issued a letter of support for DANK’s request for TIF funds.

If the renovation moves forward, it would be the latest effort to upgrade the six-story building in recent years. DANK spent $2 million on improvements including renovating the rooftop terrace, installing Chicago Brauhaus’ bar on the second floor and fundraising to open a new gallery in the building’s former first floor retail space. 

The nonprofit also secured the mural from the now-closed Huettenbar, 4721 N. Lincoln Ave., by local artist Karl Raack after owner Irma Frolich decided to sell the business.

Michael Waechter, owner of Waechter Architects and a DANK board member, is the architect consulting on the renovations and said the city funding will be critical to the project.

“There’s a lot of work that we’ve done individually to upgrade the building. And getting over this hurdle will be one of the last and the biggest things that allow us to bring this building into the 21st century and fully let us open it up to the community,” Waechter said.

DANK’s proposal will be referred to various City Council committees before getting final review from all 50 alderpeople.

Credit: Rendering by Evelina Urbonaite
A rendering of the proposed changes to DANK Haus to make its bathrooms meet ADA standards.

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