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Torpedo Factory plans go to public engagement one week before City Council review

The City of Alexandria is sending its Torpedo Factory plans into a public engagement phase that’s been decried by some city commissions as rushed.

The city is hosting virtual public meetings on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 10 at noon. Registration is required and each meeting is scheduled to last about an hour. Those wishing to speak on the plans can also do so at the Alexandria Commission for the Arts tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.

Plans for the Torpedo Factory could involve replacing some ground-floor space with other types of artist spaces — like glass blowing — or uses like a cafe or restaurant. The idea is to make the location more vibrant and attractive to visitors, though artists in the building have pushed back against plans that could reduce the studio capacity in the building.

According to a press release from the city, three frameworks are being considered:

  • Incremental Revitalization: This scenario assumes that mostly modest improvements would be made in the near term, including reinvesting in the building to perform substantial deferred maintenance.
  • Custom Program: The City would manage and fund capital improvements in a mixed-use space to enable subsidized art uses and market rate revenue generating use options that will help pay for a portion of the rehabilitation.
  • Ground Lease: A private entity would develop, operate, maintain, and lease the facility for mixed use in a 40-year term lease.

Less than one week after the first of the virtual public meetings, the scenarios are scheduled to be presented to the City Council at their Tuesday, Dec. 14 meeting. The press release said the city will not be deciding on a plan, but developing scenarios based on guidance.

“There are currently no plans being presented; only concepts are being proposed,” the press release said. “Based on guidance provided by the City Council, staff will further develop a scenario in more detail. Plan development will begin at a later point once a scenario is chosen.”

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