June 30, 2009
On April 24th, the Planning Policy, Practice and Politics class took a long awaited site visit to National Harbor. The visit was arranged by Mary Konsoulis and Margaret McFarland and hosted by Leslie Hristov, Associate Property Manager (MRED ‘09). The group included 16 MRED students and MRED staff- Susanna Florance and Tameka Boggs. Leslie, as only an inside contact can provide, was able to put together four of the key people at the Peterson Companies involved in the early planning stages of getting National Harbor approved and built. The Peterson Companies, the developer of this spectacular development has won numerous awards for preservation, marketing and design excellence.
National Harbor is a 300 acre mixed use waterfront development on the shores of the Potomac River with direct access off of the Capital Beltway. It is immediately across the river from Alexandria. In addition to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center which opened in April 2008, National Harbor contains hotels, waterfront condos, offices, retail stores, nightspots, a marina, a new location for the National Children's Museum and most recently, Disney has invested in 15 acres on the site.The visit started off in the Peterson Offices located at the Harbor. There was a large scale model of the project in the Rotunda which served as a focal point for the presentation. Several of the players involved in the development of National Harbor discussed their involvement with the project. Andrew Gingles discussed the history of the National Harbor and the pre-development phase including zoning, entitlements and community and political issues. Jeff Parana talked about the commercial design and planning phases and Stuart Prince covered the residential design development. Lastly, Peter Hackett discussed the construction process including permits and environmental issues. They discussed land use and phases of development. The floor was then opened up for questions. After that, the group set out for a walking tour of the site which included a group photo in front the large in ground statue entitled "the Awakening". The group visited the Gaylord Hotel, a condominium project, the site's security headquarters as well as other areas of interest. The half day event culminated in lunch at one of the variety of restaurants along the waterfront.
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