The Fredericksburg City Council has approved a rezoning that will lead to the former mobile home park off U.S. 1 being redeveloped as an office park called Cowan Station.

Jarrell Properties, which is headquartered in downtown Fredericksburg, plans to build a total of 52,000 square feet of commercial space in eight separate one-level, 6,500-square-foot brick buildings on the 9.37-acre site next year. Spotsylvania Avenue will be realigned as part of the $12 million project so it connects to U.S 1 at the stoplight for Cowan Crossing.

In addition to voting unanimously Tuesday to rezone the site to Commercial Highway, the council also approved a right-of-way vacation and rededication, and a Comprehensive Plan amendment to clear the way for Cowan Station.

Buildings in the development will be similar in appearance and usage to the medical and professional office buildings the developer built in Lee’s Hill, although other businesses such as a café or bike shop might locate there as well, said Jeh Hicks, Jarrell Properties’ director of community relations. Plans for the project also include one pedestrian and bike trail connecting to the College Heights neighborhood, along with bicycle racks, several acres of open space and a ramada, or open-sided shelter.

Jarrell Properties Inc. worked with city staff, City Council, the Planning Commission and the College Heights Civic Association for more than 18 months to make the office park compatible with the neighborhood. The developer had originally planned to build two trails in the project that would connect with College Heights, but the association requested that only the one connecting to Payne Street be built.

“Having two trails, at Dandridge and Payne Street, seems redundant as they would be such a short distance from each other where they would intersect with Rappahannock Ave.,” Meredith Beckett wrote in an email sent to City Council on behalf of the association’s board of directors. “One trail will suffice for connectivity, would be less of a financial burden on the developer and would cause less intrusion into the neighborhood and loss of habitat.”

Councilman Matt Kelly said that he supported the revision, and had asked one of Jarrell Properties’ representatives if the developer would consider spending the funds for the second trail on improvements to other city trails. He said the city should look for every opportunity to get money for its trail system because the state and federal funds it has relied on for this are drying up.

Jeh Hicks, Jarrell Properties’ director of community relations, said he liked Kelly’s idea, but did not want that to tie up approval for the Cowan Station project. He said that the developer would be open to putting the money for the second trail into a city trail near another of the projects it is working on.

Councilman Tim Duffy said he would vote in favor of the project with just the one trail, and agreed that he didn’t want the to hold up the project over funding another city trail.

“I appreciate the developer working with the neighborhood and with staff to realign the entrance with Route 1, and it is a good project for the city,” he said.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407