After Disney Pullout, Nat'l Harbor Looks for New Development

Planners Had Hoped for a 500-Room Hotel

By Chris Gordon
|  Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011  |  Updated 1:13 PM EDT
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Disney has decided not to build a hotel at National Harbor on land it had purchased there two years ago.

Chris Gordon

Disney has decided not to build a hotel at National Harbor on land it had purchased there two years ago.

Ice sculptures like you've never seen before. A chance to release your inner child. Only drawback? It's so cold in here, they lend you a parka.

ICE! at Gaylord National Resort is becoming a local holiday tradition -- the ice-carved winter wonderland drew a quarter of a million visitors last year.

"We took the day off work to come here and have fun, see the sculptures and use the slide," said Patrick Harders of Manassas, Va.

Located at National Harbor, the resort is just part of the mixed-use development, which also contains retail space, restaurants and a world-class conference center on 350 acres.

In 2009, when the Walt Disney Company paid $11 million for 11 of those acres, planners hoped that it would build a 500-room hotel to attract more tourists. But late last week, Disney announced it was pulling out of the project.

The land "will be incorporated back into our long-term master plan for National Harbor," said Jon Peterson, senior vice president of the Peterson Companies, the majority owner of National Harbor.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and the developer of National Harbor say they're disappointed with Disney's decision, but they say there are other financial opportunities at National Harbor and throughout the county, including federal offices and a Metro station.

"We have 49 percent of the region's space in terms of warehouse, but only 4 percent of the office space," Economic Development Officer Aubrey Thagard said of the county as a whole. "It's important to bring those employees that are working in offices in other parts of the region back home."

National Harbor will also be the site of the Tanger Outlet Mall, with more than 80 stores. It will create hundreds of construction jobs. In 2013, the National Children's Museum will open, adding another attraction for families.

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