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Shaw Arts and Crafts building, site of future El Centro, ready to shine

The restoration of a rare Arts and Crafts-style building is in the works although a construction schedule has not yet been determined. The El Centro project, as it’s called for the restaurant that will eventually occupy part of it, is located at 1547 7th Street NW, in Shaw.
“The style wasn’t popular in the district so only a handful were built,” David Haresign, of the firm Bonstra/Haresign Architects, said of the circa 1910 building. “It’s a terrific building architecturally.”
Haresign expects to submit demolition drawings to the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs around the end of September. Alteration and repair drawings will be ready two weeks later, as preparation for a building permit.
The building was zoned for a single parking spot. Over the summer, the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved the request to eliminate parking. The ANC supported the request.
The owner/developer is Warren Williams, Jr., head of the Warrenton Group, a development firm. “The project is still on. We are fully financed. We have leased space to El Centro. We don’t have a date to start but everyone wants to get it done,” said Williams, who has owned the building since the 1960s.
The building is at the corner of 7th and Q streets NW, across from the City Market at O, and one block from a metro stop.

In 1997, a Metro bus crashed into the front of the 7th Street façade. The then-two story building, which had a liquor store on the ground floor and three apartments on the second, has been vacant since.
The development plan calls for adding a third story to the existing building and constructing a three-story infill-addition. Although the building is neither historic nor in an historic district, Haresign will retain as much period detail as possible and use period-correct material for construction. Bonstra/Haresign specializes in urban infill projects in the district area, and is known for historic preservation.
“Part of the building was left open to the weather,” Haresign said of the bus crash. “It’s an extensive renovation and restoration with new windows, new floors, new interior fittings and a new mansard roof.”
The building’s full basement will be lowered. El Centro restaurant will occupy that space and the first floor, about 2,400 square feet total. El Centro’s designer Brie Husted will design the restaurant’s décor.
The second story will become the Warrenton Group’s office, about 2,300 square feet.
A third story will placed atop the existing two stories along with the three-story infill, a total of about 1,500 square feet. There will be a roof deck and pavilion. Williams will use this floor as his personal residence.
Haresign said the infill addition will be a modern design but done in complementary material and colors to the existing building.
“I’ve been working on this project since 2006. I’m excited to get it done,” said Haresign. “The neighborhood is just beyond emerging thanks to the O Street Market and the library.”

Read more articles by Barbara Pash.

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