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December 7, 2016

Designer Barry Dixon selling downtown property

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
The former Catholic rectory and church front East Lee Street.
Interior designer Barry Dixon considered opening a store in the former church, the largest of three structures on the quarter-acre property.
It was so beautiful, and I thought it had potential. I was toying with the idea . . . that I would put all my offices there.
— Barry Dixon on his 2006 purchased of the property
On the Market
• Where: 79 E. Lee St., Warrenton.

• Owner: Barry Dixon’s The Old Church LLC bought it for $850,000 in February 2006.

• Zoning: Central Business District, allows a range of commercial and/or residential use.

• Size: 0.24 acre.

• Asking price: $995,000.

• Buildings: 3, totaling 7,700 square feet.

• Website: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
A renowned interior designer wants to sell the downtown Warrenton property he purchased a decade ago.

Barry Dixon put 79 E. Lee St. on the market this week, with an asking price of $995,000.

The 0.24-acre property — originally St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church — includes three brick structures that date to the early 1900s. The buildings more recently housed Fauquier Community Action Inc. and its Head Start classes.

“I feel like they are not seeing the full potential with me using them right now, and they have prime retail opportunity (for another owner),” Mr. Dixon said.

The Old Church LLC, which he owns, purchased the property in 2006 for $850,000, according to county real estate records.

“I was in no hurry to decide what to do with it at the time,” Mr. Dixon said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It was so beautiful, and I thought it had potential. I was toying with the idea . . . that I would put all my offices there.”

He has stored furniture, fabric and supplies in the buildings, where his company also briefly had offices.

“I basically have been using it as a glorified warehouse,” Mr. Dixon said.

He installed copper roofs, painted the exteriors and made other improvements to the church and rectory, which front East Lee Street. The former social hall stands behind those structures, with a driveway on South Fourth Street.

Mr. Dixon explored the possibility of opening a store there, but said, “I don’t think I have the bandwidth to run a retail establishment.”

His business, which employs six, keeps him busy traveling around the country and working from his home, Elway Hall, west of Warrenton.

Mr. Dixon envisions a “destination” business in the Lee Street buildings.

“Something that brings traffic here,” he suggested. “I would love it to be something in tandem with Claire’s (at The Depot) . . . and other retail shops, something that would benefit Main Street and Old Town Warrenton.”

Commercial real estate broker Bill Chipman, who owns CRES Inc., has the listing for the property, which lies in Warrenton’s historic district.

With Central Business District zoning, the buildings could get used for stores, offices, a restaurant or housing, according to Warrenton Economic Development Director Heather Stinson.

“The sky is the limit,” Ms. Stinson said. “There are a variety of uses that could be put in there including performance uses.

“I’ve seen old churches turned into restaurants. They are certainly interesting structures. Other people have talked about an artist space.”

Town officials hope the opening of Wort Hog Brewing Co., just west of the property and across Lee Street, will spark other redevelopment in that area. After a multimillion-dollar renovation of a former garage, the brewery should open in the next several weeks.

“Overall it’s a positive sign, and it’s an opportunity to make better use of what is a beautiful property,” Ms. Stinson said of the new real estate listing. “Lots of potential there . . . .

“Wort Hog’s revitalization project is hopefully the start of a renewed activity in Old Town and Lee Street, in particular,” she said.

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