Warren County now feels like a second home to 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 she will also develop several apartments.
She wanted to expand her real estate law business for some time and was debating whether to expand to the Triad region or to Warrenton. In the end, small town Warrenton won out. She and her husband had purchased a home at Lake Gaston, and it did not take long for Dowell to visit the county seat.
“When I got downtown, I loved it. When I saw the development, I wanted in,” she said, referring to new businesses, apartments and other projects revitalizing Warrenton.
For now, she has expanded her office to a space in downtown Littleton next to Daphne’s Coffee Shop.
A limited liability corporation comprised of Dowell, her husband and her parents is in a contract to purchase the building, and Raleigh Real Estate Law will lease a portion of the lower floor of the Red Brick Store, located at 123 S. Main St.
However, that is just a small part of her plans for the building, which she affectionately calls the “123 Building.”
The circa 1835 building has housed a variety of businesses, including a millinery, the Colonial Store, Hy Diamond’s department store, William W. Taylor’s law office, The Warren Record, Oldtimer & Lily, and Picket Fence Antiques, among others.
So far, the building has yielded a treasury of discoveries that offer a glimpse into the past, including a cobblestone foundation, office doors with frosted glass, tall ceilings, and windows that offer a sweeping view of the downtown area.
Dowell has hired Michael Hurt of Hurt LLC to handle the construction and renovation aspects of the project. Acting as advisors are Stacy Woodhouse and Randall Robinson, partners in Robinhouse, LLC, who purchased the building in August.
Dowell described the project as an example of teamwork between her family LLC, Hurt, Woodhouse and Robinson to bring new life to 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 in the back. The second floor will feature apartments — either three one-bedroom or one two-bedroom and one one-bedroom.
Dowell hopes to create a historic-modern atmosphere at the building that maintains the historic aspects of the space while incorporating modern features.
First, however, repairs and replacements will need to be made to the roof and other areas which have worn over the years.
Dowell is excited about the revitalization project in an area which she described as full of economic opportunities and a great place to raise children.
When renovations are complete, Raleigh Real Estate Law’s local office will move from Littleton to Warrenton. Dowell hopes that the building will help Warrenton become part of a trend in which young professionals come to small towns to work and live, not only people in their 30s and 40s, but also those in their 20s. She feels that the building’s location in the heart of downtown within walking distance of many stores, businesses and activities, will attract people from the local area and beyond.
While Dowell wishes that construction could begin right away, the next step in the revitalization process will involve the official planning process, including renderings of what the finished project will look like.
As she looks to the future, Dowell continues to discover architectural treasures at the 123 Building, including advertisement artwork. With renovations, she hopes that 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 town,” she said. “I’m so excited about the project.”