A comprehensive plan to use the future King Street Metro sation in Alexandria as a catalyst for transforming its surroundings into a major commercial area while protecting nearby residential neighborhoods is scheduled to be discussed tonight by the City Council.
It is believed to be the most detailed plan prepared by an area jurisdiction for shaping the impact of a Metro station on the surrounding neighborhood.
The King Street Metro station, near Alexandria's railroad Union Station between King and Duke streets a mile and a quarter west of the city's waterfront, is scheduled to open early in 1981. It is in an area of low-density commercial and residential buildings surrounded by extensive surface parking areas and vacant land.
The major recommendation of the 72-page report prepared by the Alexandria Planning Department is that medium-to-high density commercial and office areas with buildings up to 15 stories be located next to the King Street Station and as far away as possible from the surrounding neighborhoods.
The report, which was presented to City Council last weekM also notes that some commercial establishments and homes are in historically valuable structures.
"A major issue is how to limit makor growth to areas suitable for redevelopment and how to protect old and historic residential commercial areas from the redevelopment process," the report said. Old Town Alexandria, the offivially recognized historic district where many houses are more than 100 years old, begins several blocks to the east of the station, within walking distance.
The report urgues establisment of a so-called "transitional area," which would act as a buffer between the high-density and residential areas.
In high density sections, bounded by Dangerfield and Diagonal roads and the R.F. & P. Railroad tracks, buildings of up to 15 stories would be permitted with a special use permit as well as densities of between 54 and 85 dwelling units per acre.
This compares with a height limitation of seven stories in the transitional zone, with residential sensities of up to 54 dwelling units per acre.
One proposal that seems certain to cause controversy calls for plans to be worked out between the city government staff and developers instead of through the normal City Council review process.
"However desirable public review of development projects may be, it does create costs and risks for the developertwhich may render a project financially infeasible," the report says.
Other fetures of the report, which must be reviewed by the Council, are recommendations that majoe repairs of main streets surrounding the station be undertaken, that the station be made a major bus stop, that a residential parking permit system be established in areas within a 10-minute walk from the sation, and that, for the moment, there should be no permanent parking facilities near the Metro stop.
"We don't want this (station) to be a large magnet for people driving into the city to take Metro," remarked City Manager Douglas Harman.
The report says that "realization" of the Metro station's potential "can bring to the city increased employment, housing, retail, transit ridership and tax revenue opportunities."
But the report also cites some problems to overcome before the area around the King Street station can be redeveloped.
The major problem is daid to be the "negative image" of the area "created by the hodgepodge configutation of deteriorating commercial buildings which are surrounded by extensive, unlandscaped surface parking areas. Traffic congestion, a confusing street system and lack of vegetaton and open space also contribute to the area's negative character."
Other major problems cited by the report include the fragmentation of property ownership in the area, a situation that might make it difficult fordevelopers to assemble large parcels of land for construction. In addition, the report said, key sites are tied up in low rent, long-term lease agreements with renewal options. Finally, land speculatiion spurred by the subway station has caused prices to skyrocket, and the area "may price itself out of redevelopment."
Includd in proposed traffic improvements are the widening of the King Street underpass at thhe R.F. & P. bridge, the widening of Duke Street to four lanes with turning bays and a median strip, making King Street one way from Commonwealth Avenue to Rte, 1, and making Price Street two ways from Dangerfield Road to Columbus Street.