For LivingSocial, Old is New

LivingSocial, the District-based daily deals company, is rapidly expanding in Washington and prefers reusing historical buildings that contribute to a playful, creative vibe executives want to cultivate.

This keeps Aaron Rinaca particularly busy. Rinaca’s background is in computer science, but he has dabbled in renovating houses. At LivingSocial, that means he quickly became head of real estate and construction, flying around the world to secure new space to accommodate the growth.

Rinaca’s latest local build-out is on the corner of Seventh Street and New York Avenue. Built in the late 1800s as a series of row houses, 1005-1011 Seventh St. NW was later converted into one building and purchased by Acme Stove. It was bought in 2005 by Douglas Development, and has since served as a temporary home for art exhibits and political campaign offices.

When Rinaca first toured the space, the basement had about a foot of water in it and signs of times past remained: pull-tab beer cans in the wall cavities, furniture advertisements in faded paint and basement coal shoots once used for heating homes. Rinaca said the three-story building had been out of use so long that “Pepco actually couldn’t find the listing for when it had service.”

Working with McCullough Construction, LivingSocial kept ceiling beams, window frames, moulding and nearly all the brick walls. (There was a failed attempt to preserve some old wallpaper.) It installed a roof deck and sump pumps in the basement, where the company has a conference room. Finally came the company’s motivational messaging to the interior and snack-filled kitchens in common areas.

Nearly 200 employees now work there, part of LivingSocial’s information technology, deal quality and editorial teams.

LivingSocial’s chief executive Tim O’Shaughnessy is the son-in-law of Washington Post chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham.