National Harbor Loses Disney
After struggling through 2008 and slow progress since in both the retail and condominium sectors, National Harbor boosted its profile in May of 2009 with the announcement of an $11M land sale to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney was considering the 15-acre site overlooking the Potomac River for a 500-room resort hotel.
“We’re thrilled Disney has decided to invest in National Harbor,” Milton V. Peterson, chairman of the Peterson Companies, had said to The Washington Post after the announcement. “Disney is the top family entertainment company in the world, and its purchase is a great vote of confidence in the future of National Harbor and the Washington area as a top family tourism destination.”
But today, Walt Disney Co. announced its cancellation of plans to build at National Harbor. The news takes the air out of recent attempts to build interest in the development, the majority of which is owned by the Peterson Cos. Among their announcments earlier this year was news that new retail stores were signed for National Harbor, including House of Jon Lei Atelier bridal salon, Scented Organic Artisan Pure, womens' boutique Periwinkle, Dandelion Patch stationary and Nando's Peri-Peri chicken restaurant. Following them, a Pinkberry and ChiDogO’s. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers signed a deal to bring outlet stores to the complex and Redeye Grill and other restaurants were reported to be coming to National Harbor by the end of 2012. At that point, the retail portion of the complex would be at 85% occupation.
National Harbor already has six hotels, anchored by the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.
Of Disney's decision to withdraw, the Washington Post reports Jon Petersion, senior vice president of the Peterson Cos., as saying; "We are disappointed.” He added that “there was always a little bit of uncertainty” over whether Disney would follow through.
The parcel at issue is located at the top of American Way, overlooking the National Harbor complex. Peterson Companies is in talks to re-purchase and re-market the property.complex. Peterson Companies is in talks to re-purchase and re-market the property.