home Featured, Waterfront Planning and Development Is National Harbor a truly successful and effective development?

Is National Harbor a truly successful and effective development?

Features and Benefits of the Development

National Harbor, a 300 – acre waterfront development with its $2.1 billion mixed-use community was opened to public in 2008. The Peterson Companies built it and the area includes marinas, variety of restaurants, hotels, commercial and residential spaces. The Harbor is situated in the Prince George’s County, Maryland on the Potomac River, which is just a short drive from Washington, DC. The waterfront is approachable from I-95, I-495 and I-295. The site is also accessible through water taxi from Washington D.C, Old Town Alexandria, Mount Vernon and Georgetown. Alternative transportation is also available through the NH-1 metro bus, which connects the Branch Avenue Metro on the Green Line. Convenient public parking garages are provided in the site.

Location of National Harbor

Source:www.yesterland.com

The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is the linchpin of the development. The resort takes pride in being the largest non-gaming hotel and convention center in the East Coast. It features guestrooms, banquet facilities, restaurants, retail spaces, pools and indoor and outdoor facilities.

Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center

Source: Picture by Josephine Visuvasaselvakumar

The Walt Disney had purchased a 15-acre land about half mile around the waterfront and has targeted to construct a 500-room hotel resort. Major commercial streets with condominiums, hotels, offices, sculptures and art works are positioned to the east of the waterfront. Designed by architect Cesar Pelli, the 150,000 square-foot, National Children’s museum is scheduled to open in 2013. The giant sculpture buried on the waterfront is definitely an excellent artwork. The three main condo buildings are the Fleet Street, One National Harbor and Waterfront Street. The condominiums feature one, two and three bedroom options. The waterfront is swaddled with variety of restaurants like McCormick and Schmick’s, Rosa Mexicano, Cake Love, Bond 45, Mc Loones’ Pier House and Sauciety.

National Children’s museum is scheduled to open in 2013

Source:www.yesterland.com

Disney Site in National Harbor

Source:www.yesterland.com

National Harbor

Source: Picture by Josephine Visuvasaselvakumar

National Harbor

Source: Picture by Josephine Visuvasaselvakumar


Picture of the Buried Giant

Source: Picture by Josephine Visuvasaselvakumar


National Harbor

Source: Picture by Josephine Visuvasaselvakumar


View of the Promenade

Source: Picture by Josephine Visuvasaselvakumar


Drawbacks of the Development

Though there are diverse transportation through land and water, none of them are workable on a daily basis and are very expensive too. The NH-1 metro running from Branch Avenue along I-495 was rerouted from Southern Avenue a couple of years back. The Southern Avenue served lot of neighborhoods and was easily accessible. Though the re-routing might benefit the tourists it is a trouble for the local citizens. One must definitely own a car to get to the spot. The development is disconnected from the city and transit. The area truly lacks community resources or facilities and supplies except for one CVS pharmacy and a small grocery store. The establishment has very little population living there. The promenade is not lively with people and the area is not bike-friendly too.

There is a detachment between the water, the promenade, the commercial space and the people. If the development is for the tourists and the residents it should have amenities to satisfy them both. The housing and food prices are too high. Though the final reports have not been signed yet, there are announcements that the Department of Energy might move the Solar Decathlon to National Harbor. I wouldn’t prefer National Harbor to be an ideal spot for Solar Decathlon. For years there is a problem of sewage spill into Potomac. Last year 201,831 gallons of sewage poured in to the Potomac in southern Prince George’s area. How is the new waterfront development handling this issue? There is a lack of connection between the harbor and the neighborhoods especially Oxon Hill, which is adjacent to the development, remains isolated.

National Harbor is certainly a budding and expensive development but how far the future developments will benefit the residents or to what extent will it attract more visitors’ lies in the hands of the developer and the city.

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3 thoughts on “Is National Harbor a truly successful and effective development?

  1. I understand this is a LEED certified development through the USGBC. Interesting that LEED is not mentioned in this article – I wonder why? It’s certainly a significant aspect of such a sizable development.

  2. The pictures are well selected, but the list of drawbacks is quite comprehensive. This looks like a typical ‘half-way’ development that would have profited from a bit more thinking in advance. Still, such harbour developments keep fascinating me. I am involved now in a development of an inland harbour in the city of Enschede (we have a lot of harbours along canals here in the Netherlands), doing an analysis of the planning process complexity. These areas all have some kind of distinct identity, and there must be rather specific success factors. I have had the pleasure of visiting quite different revitalisation attempts such as Oslo (Norway), Cardiff and Buenos Aires. It looks like a big issue is the tendency to view such developments as isolated from other developments, and, of course, they never are.

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