The Alexandria City Council last night listened to nearly three dozen speakers urge prompt action to initiate redevelopment of the massive Torpedo Plant complex on the city's waterfront.

More than 200 spectators crowded into the council chambers and adjacent hallways during the two-hour public hearing, forming what observers said was the largest group to attend a council meeting in recent years.

The feeling of most speakers was summed up by Alexandria resident Joseph McGrail, who urged the council to "do something, even if it is wrong."

The Torpedo Plant, a group of World War I-era buildings, sits on 6.25 acres of prime waterfront land north of King Street in the Old Town. For years, the subject of what to do with the buildings, nearly all of which are empty and in poor condition, has been a subject of heated debate.

City planners have recommended the Redstone Development Corp. as primary developer of the complex and said that two other developers should be considered as alternates.

The redevelopment plans call for high-priced condominiums as well as shops and office space. The plans would preserve the popular city art center that has space in one of the old factory buildings.

The council took no action last night.