King Street Place Pilot
CITY COUNCIL MAKES PERMANENT THE PEDESTRIAN ZONE ON THE UNIT BLOCK OF KING STREET AND THE NORTHERN PORTION OF THE STRAND
On Saturday, November 12, the Alexandria City Council voted to make permanent the pedestrian-only zone. The unanimous vote allows the City and businesses to consider more substantial investments in this area to support outdoor dining, activation with through events and vendors, and safety. This officially ends the street closure as a pilot project.
The pedestrian zone pilot was extremely popular: of over 1,800 feedback form respondents, roughly 90% supported making the pilot permanent. In addition, several boards and commissions supported the pedestrian zone along the unit block of King St. and the Strand:
- On October 18, the Alexandria Waterfront Commission endorsed the pedestrian zone [pdf]
- On October 24, the Traffic and Parking Board approved the street closure and reduction of parking spaces, elimination (and replacement) of bicycle parking, and removal of the motorcoach parking space.
- On November 1, the Planning Commission found that this pedestrian zone was consistent with the City’s Master Plan, as it was recommended multiple times in the Waterfront Small Area Plan.
Moving forward, businesses and City staff will determine next steps for this area, including additional/upgraded amenities and programming. In the longer term, the Department of Project Implementation is developing the Waterfront Implementation Project to address flooding and improve the streetscape per the Waterfront Small Area Plan. This project is anticipated to begin construction in Spring 2025.
Feedback overwhelmingly positive on the Pedestrian-Only Zone On the Unit block of King Street and the Strand
Thank you to the almost 2,000 respondents who provided feedback on the pedestrian-only zone. Some of the major takeaways are:
- 90% of resident and visitor respondents rate the quality of their experience as either very positive (78%), or positive (12%)
- 89% of resident and visitor respondents stated they would like to see the closure continue permanently
- Top three benefits that resident and visitor respondents recognize: feeling safer as a pedestrian; a greater benefit to people using the public space; and more space to eat or shop outside
- Top three challenges: traffic backing up on Union Street; trash cans being fuller; and people riding bicycles in the pedestrian zone
- If the pedestrian zone were made permanent, the top three things resident and visitor respondents would like to see are: more public seating, more outdoor dining and public bathrooms
In late August, the City provided an online feedback form to gain insight on public opinion of the pedestrianization of the unit block of King Street and the northern portion of The Strand. To view all of the results, [click here] .
City Council has requested that staff include a pilot program for the pedestrianization of the 100 block of King Street in their FY 2020 work plan. This project was originally discussed with the community through an extensive community engagement process in 2015 during the Lower King Street Multi-modal Feasibility Study.
Staff provided an oral update to City Council on March 10 with the intent of getting feedback on the proposed plan. The concept development has gone through many iterations based on discussions with the resident and business communities, and a one-way traffic flow option with expanded outdoor dining on the south side of the block was proposed to Council. Due to social distancing orders related to COVID-19, full implementation of the Pilot Program is being placed on hold. Staff will provide a proposal to City Council in the fall to implement this project in Spring 2021. In the meantime, City Council endorsed the City Manager's action for the pedestrianization of the 100 block of King Street as an interim measure to help with COVID-19 recovery efforts and in response to overcrowding near the waterfront.
Outreach and Engagement
The City, in partnership with Visit Alexandria, has been meeting with the impacted businesses to hear their concerns and get feedback on various design ideas. Staff is also working through the Waterfront and Transportation Commissions to get input on the project that will ultimately inform the proposed pilot program. Additionally, the project has been discussed at the Old Town Business and Civic Associations.
Community Engagement & Process
- Waterfront Commission - Feedback (December 17, 2019)
- Transportation Commission - Feedback (December 18, 2019)
- Old Town Civic Association - Feedback (January 8, 2020)
- Visit Alexandria Board Meeting - Feedback (January 14, 2020)
- Transportation Commission (Public Hearing) - Endorsement (January 15, 2020)
- Small Business Development Center's Business Association Meeting - Feedback (January 16, 2020)
- Old Town Business Association - Feedback (January 21, 2020)
- Waterfront Commission - Feedback (January 21, 2020)
- Public Open House - Feedback (January 23, 2020)
- Traffic and Parking Board - Feedback (January 27, 2020)
- Business Meeting - Design Charrette (February 20, 2020)
- Business Meeting - Feedback (March 5, 2020)
- City Council - Feedback (March 10, 2020)