The Alexandria City Council overrode objections from an artists' group last night by deciding to stick to its plan to have one of the old torpedo factory buildings on the city's waterfront developed for commercial use.
The Torpedo Factory Art Association, made up of artists who have studios and shops in part of the old factory complex, had objected, saying its arts center should be expanded. The city is about to implement ambitious plans to turn the decaying, four-building complex where torpedoes have once manufactured into a commercial, retail and residential project, reserving space for the arts center that has already become a prime tourist attraction.
The association wanted the artists' facilities extended from Building 2 to Building 10. Both structures are connected and stand between King and Cameron streets by the Potomac.
But the council voted 5 to 2 confine public use -- including the arts center -- to Building 2. Stores and other commercial uses will be assigned to the adjoining Building 10. The negative votes were cast by Mayor Charles E. Beatley and council member James Moran.
"One of the priorities, I thought, is that the city was making a very large capital investment," said City Manager Douglas Harman. "I think it's more appropriate to have mixed uses, but the arts center doesn't satisfy all those uses."
J. Howard Middleton Jr., an attorney for the art association, told the council his clients are concerned because the center "should remain the focus of attention on King Street. Retail offices would fudge the impact of the arts center as a cultural attraction."
Marian van Landingham, president of the art association, said of the decision: "Of course we're very disappointed. But we'll work with them [the council]. Obviously we wouldn't have suggested something if we thought it wouldn't work."