A Richmond developer wants to convert brick warehouses in the Spotsylvania Industrial Park to apartments and commercial space.

The industrial park off Tidewater Trail (State Route 2/U.S. 17) just outside Fredericksburg has several sections with a mix of office, warehouse and industrial businesses.

The developer, The Monument Cos., wants to renovate three large brick buildings in the Bowmen Center area of the complex.

The property, at Main Street and Russo Drive, covers about 14 acres. The buildings, which are partly occupied, have about 400,000 square feet of space, according to Tom Dickey, one of the founders of Monument.

If the county approves rezoning of the property from industrial to mixed use, it would take four to five years to complete the renovation work, Dickey said.

The plan calls for up to 650 one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with 12,000 square feet of commercial space. A community meeting on the proposal has been held, and county officials continue working with the developer on the proposal.

A key to the project will be improving Tidewater Trail, where there already is heavy traffic congestion during the rush-hour periods.

Spotsylvania Supervisor Gary Skinner, who represents the district where the industrial park is located, said the road can’t handle the additional traffic the development would bring. He said he is pushing for the developer to help pay for improvements to the road.

“I think the project is a good project,” Skinner said. But, he added, the county is “trying to figure out how we get the transportation first.”

The supervisor noted that a proposal to widen Tidewater Trail in the area of the industrial park wasn’t selected in the state’s Smart Scale transportation program, which scores and ranks projects for funding.

Another Smart Scale project to add turn lanes at two nearby intersections was approved. Skinner thinks the widening project will have a better chance in Smart Scale if the developer dedicates funding to the project.

“We’ve already started talking,” he said.

Dickey said the company is “absolutely” open to helping with improvements to the two-lane road.

Local attorney Charlie Payne, who represents Monument, said the development project could lead to the road improvements happening “sooner rather than later.”

“We think there’s a creative way to do it,” he said.

Skinner believes the project also could help the county develop 59 acres it owns in the industrial park, along the Rappahannock River.

Monument specializes in renovating historic buildings for modern use. The company’s website says its work on such projects totals more than $150 million.

The company is working to get the Bowman Center property listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The core of the complex was completed in 1930, according to documents filed by Monument for the historic designation.

The complex revolved around the old Sylvania plant, which manufactured cellophane until 1978, when it closed. The county now owns the site, which houses the FMC Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The industrial park is already home to A. Smith Bowman distillery and other businesses. If the Bowman Center proposal is approved, it could add much more to the mix.

Dickey said that along with the apartments, the company is considering a variety of uses for the commercial space—from a brewery to a restaurant, a market, coffee shop and offices.

“We’re really excited about the project,” he said. “It’ll bring something different to Spotsylvania that it doesn’t have now.”

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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