I am a sucker for construction sites.
They always peek my interest and I especially enjoy seeing things get built in Charleston. I guess I just love seeing progress.
This past year one construction site in particular caught my eye. A new restaurant at the corner of St. Philip and Warren Street has undergone an amazing transformation.
I know, I know......"Not another restaurant!"
Yes, another restaurant!
Just like watching construction sites, I also enjoy a having a plethora of unique dining experiences at my finger tip. That's why I'm a city folk!
And this one offers a very unique dining experience paired with a very sharp design.
Introducing The Westendorff.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the architect of The Westendorff: Julia F. Martin AIA, LEED AP. We had a great discussion about the restaurant's design and unique features. But it was the building's long journey that really dominated the discussion.
I have never interviewed anyone for BuildingsAreCool so this was a real treat!
Steve Ramos: Maybe we can talk about how the project started? How long ago was it?
Julia F. Martin: I think it was 2012 that Steven (Owner: Steven Niketas) and his business partner at that time came to me via a recommendation from The Historic Charleston Foundation. And we at that point dug into it and dealt with the zoning issues, which we thought were fairly minor. Because it was just a special exception for the parking, that's all it was.
But it turned into a giant firestorm with the neighborhood......huge. And that took the better part of a year to get through. The negotiations. "And how big are the trash cans? Grease particulates will be flying through the air!" All that stuff. So that was way more challenging than I thought it would be. And we finally made it through, and then......
Julia F. Martin: Steven and his business partner sort of went their separate ways. So it was dormant for a couple of years.
And then fast forward to late 2013, Steven shows back up out of the blue and says, "I think I'm going to try to do this. I think I'm going to try to officially partner with Jamie...Jamie Westendorff." The guy that has owned this property...forever.
Julia F. Martin: I guess you were around then? 8 years ago? Did you ever notice this building?
Steve Ramos: I don't remember it back that far, but I noticed it during construction.
Julia F. Martin: It always struck me as this beautiful strong structure....that had been let go. Really. Just let go. For some reason it had this bright green pressed tin cornice and window headers. But everything else was just sort of........dying.
But I loved it.
I loved the geometry of it.
Julia F. Martin: So I was really happy that they came to me the first time, and the second time again. So we just sort of resumed work.
Check back in on Monday for The Westendorff: Part 2.
Steve Ramos AIA, LEED AP