Restaurant planned for abandoned power plant site
A local businessman plans to transform an abandoned hydroelectric power plant on the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg into a restaurant and build adjacent residential condominiums.
Ed Whelan and his family last week bought a riverfront property near the intersection of Caroline and Ford streets where the Virginia Electric and Power Company used to run a hydroelectric plant.
Whelan’s family, through a limited liability company called Dreamland, bought the 3.93-acre property from an LLC headed by Hugh Cosner, a former Spotsylvania County supervisor who has owned the property at least in part since 1979 and who had also long envisioned a restaurant in the plant known as the former Embrey Power Station.
Whelan, who owns The Inn at the Olde Silk Mill across Caroline Street from the property, said he started talking to Cosner about buying the property last year. The sales price was $1 million.
Whelan plans to turn the long-abandoned, graffiti-covered plant into a multilevel restaurant, perhaps with a rooftop bar and other outdoor seating overlooking the river.
Next to it he plans to build a warehouse-style building that would fit with the industrial feel of that part of Fredericksburg. The building would include a parking garage and residential condominiums that overlook the river.
The garage could serve residents as well as people going to the restaurant and events at The Inn at the Olde Silk Mill, which Whelan continues to improve and expand.
Whelan is patterning the project in part after Rocketts Landing, a former industrial area along the James River in Richmond that has been transformed into a thriving spot with residential condominiums and restaurants.
Whelan is still working on his plans for the property and said he will likely seek a rezoning from the city. He said he thinks that area of Fredericksburg, which is right along the popular Rappahannock River Heritage Trail and next to Old Mill Park, is ripe for redevelopment.
Whelan’s planned project is among several higher-density, mixed-use developments in the downtown area that are capitalizing on the increasing trend of people choosing walkable cities over suburbs.
Other examples include One Hanover, Amelia Square and Tom Wack’s proposed Liberty Place project at the current home of the William Street Executive Building, and more are in the pipeline.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405