Far from cutting any red ribbons, the next landmark for the 300-acre, 7.3 million-square-foot National Harbor project in the Smoot Bay area of Prince George’s County will be the completion of its first building with two stories of retail and restaurants and a third story containing the condominium sales center at the end of May. While the retail space will not be filled until 2008, the 37,000 s.f. waterfront building will include space for outside dining and a cylindrical window-wrought viewing area.
Developed by Fairfax-based Peterson Companies, National Harbor will be a mixed-use, waterfront mini-city with a marina and four piers, which will include residential, office, and retail space as well as six hotels, including the Gaylord Conference and Convention Center - the largest combined hotel and convention center on the eastern seaboard. The immediate shoreline will host waterfront shows, concerts, and events. Renderings show nighttime events with flashing lights, fanned seating, and a stage backed by the harbor and marina.
Over 4,000 Hotel Rooms
The Washington Post described the harbor as a location that “will compete directly with the District for hotel guests,” thanks to five hotels that will eventually total over 4,000 rooms, 2,942 of which will be completed by 2009. The 2,000-room Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center will be completed by Perini Tompkins Builders in March 2008 and will open for full service in early April 2008. They are currently taking reservations. Other hotels included in the project are the 162-room Marriott Residence Inn and 151-room Hampton Inn and Suites, both under construction by Herman Stewart and set to open in March 2008. Also opening at this time is a 195-room Westin Hotel that will include bottom level retail stores and a cylindrical, window-rich Westin Restaurant. A 184-room Aloft brand hotel and 250-unit Wyndham Vacation Ownership time-share will not be completed until the end of 2008
Harbor to Feature 2,500 Residential Units
The residential portion of the harbor will include 2,500 units, 500 of which will be located in three of the “downtown district” buildings, while the remaining 2,000 will be in the eastern portion of the project. Neighbors weary of the urbanization and subsequent transportation bustle that the project will bring to the area have called for townhouses as part of the residential development to give it more of a neighborhood feel. According to Stuart Prince, of Peterson Companies and the Residential Development Director for the project, townhouses and villas will be in a subsequent phase of the project. Final residential plans have not been announced; however, One National Harbor, a 253-unit condominium building is currently under construction with a projected completion date of December 2008. Prince said he and his team have noticed the increase in construction prices and decline in condo sales in the overall condominium market, but are not worried that National Harbor condo sales will suffer as this trend suggests, “we have a unique site, waterfront property, that is not necessarily correlated to the overall condominium market.”
Prince added that although there are no metro stops nearby, the project will have direct access to the Beltway with its own interchange, and create water connections to Old Alexandria and DC and a shuttle to the Nationals’ stadium. After a decade of planning, construction on the National Harbor project began with the Gaylord Convention Center in 2005 and continued with the groundbreaking of the Marriott Residence Inn in January 2007. Condo sales will begin in the summer for One National Harbor, which will begin delivering units in the late summer of 2008.