Warren County now feels like a second home for Katie Dowell of Raleigh Real Estate Law, so much so that she plans to expand her office to what is historically known as the Red Brick Store in downtown Warrenton, where it will also develop several apartments.
She had wanted to expand her real estate practice for some time and was considering whether to expand to the Triad area or Warrenton. In the end, the small town of Warrenton won out. She and her husband had bought a house at Lake Gaston, and it didn’t take long for Dowell to get to the county seat.
“When I got downtown, I loved it. When I saw the development I wanted to be involved,’ she said, referring to the new businesses, apartments and other projects revitalizing Warrenton.
For now, she’s expanded her office into a space in downtown Littleton next to Daphne’s cafe.
A limited liability company made up of Dowell, her husband and her parents has entered into an agreement to purchase the building, and Raleigh Real Estate Law will lease part of the lower floor of the Red Brick Store, located at 123 S Main St.
However, this is only a small part of her plans for the building, which she affectionately calls “Building 123”.
The circa 1835 building has housed a variety of businesses including a millinery, the Colonial Store, the Hy Diamond department store, the law firm of William W. Taylor, The Warren Record, Oldtimer & Lily and Picket Fence Antiques, among others.
So far, the building has yielded a treasure trove of finds that offer a glimpse into the past, including a cobblestone foundation, frosted-glass office doors, high ceilings, and windows that offer sweeping downtown views. .
Dowell hired Michael Hurt of Hurt LLC to manage the construction and renovation aspects of the project. Stacy Woodhouse and Randall Robinson, partners of Robinhouse, LLC, which purchased the building in August, are serving as advisors.
Dowell described the project as an example of teamwork between his LLC family, Hurt, Woodhouse and Robinson to breathe new life into a building that has already been a part of life in Warrenton for many years.
The first floor will be dedicated to commercial space with a one-bedroom apartment at the back. The second floor will feature apartments – either three one-bedroom units or one two-bedroom unit and one one-bedroom unit.
Dowell hopes to create a historic and modern feel to the building that retains the historic aspects of the space while incorporating modern elements.
However, repairs and replacements will first need to be made to the roof and other areas that have worn down over the years.
Dowell is excited about the revitalization project in an area she described as full of economic opportunity and a great place to raise children.
Once the renovations are complete, the local office of Raleigh Real Estate Law will move from Littleton to Warrenton. Dowell hopes the building will help Warrenton join a trend of young professionals coming to small towns to work and live, not just people in their 30s and 40s, but also those in their 20s. She believes that the location of the building in the heart of downtown, within walking distance of many shops, businesses and activities, will attract people from the region and beyond.
Although Dowell wants construction to begin immediately, the next step in the revitalization process will involve the formal planning process, including renderings of what the finished project will look like.
As she looks to the future, Dowell continues to uncover architectural treasures at the 123 Building, including advertising artwork. With the renovations, she hopes the building will remain an important part of life in Warrenton and Warren County for years to come.
“I want to do what’s best for the city,” she says. “I’m so excited about the project.”