After reading the interesting article “Paint by the Numbers” [Gazette Packet, March 16] summarizing the study to help provide direction to better realize the potentials of Alexandria’s unique tourist assets I thought of suggesting some ideas that might help with that endeavor.
Concerning our present and future direction of the Torpedo Factory, tourism, and the waterfront of Old Town, I believe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity exists to utilize not only the prized property of the abandoned power plant but the rail right of way that runs to the power plant then along the riverfront to the undeveloped warehouse and pier next to Founders Park.
With planning and leadership to develop and tie these separate developments into something greater than the sum of their parts, the city has an opportunity to add value to the tourist brand and alleviate problems with the added increase in traffic at the same time. Rather than more condos or townhomes built where the power plant stands, what if a development with large vertical expanded parking was incorporated in the planned complex away from the streets and waterfront of King Street along with a trolley system utilizing the rail right-of-way adjacent the waterfront delivering tourist to both the future development at the edge of Founders Park and to the future developments at the King Street waterfront? What if tourists were enticed to park away from the side streets of downtown with more affordable parking fees at the north end of Old Town and they could enjoy the wonderful view of the Potomac and D.C. skyline from a railed trolley car delivering them to the attractions of Old Town at King Street? Similar to the draw of San Francisco’s streetcars, Old Town would make a romantic city even more so and alleviate the problem of traffic and parking on our streets. I also would suggest a study to mimic what some of the cities of Europe have successfully achieved with their main street / boulevard. Setting aside some space used by cars on King Street would allow more access for tourist and pedestrians to walk along and free up areas for restaurants to expand outside dining and display space for shops. This would attract more people to experience the many restaurants and shops of King Street.