Capital Digest

June 15, 2005

Billion-dollar project may dress up Md. side of Potomac

What is now a nondescript patch of land along the Potomac River in Oxon Hill is heading for change, according to plans unveiled in Upper Marlboro by officials and developers in the Prince George's County seat.

The National Harbor project model shows a downtown area with two new piers, a dozen restaurants, scores of shops and hundreds of apartments.

The billion-dollar project launched by developer Milton Peterson will add the equivalent of a small town -- but with more glamour -- to the Maryland side of the Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

The model includes a large tower with lighted ads and a giant television screen like the one in New York's Times Square. A few steps away, sun lovers can lay out their towels and go swimming off a small stretch of sand along the river.

A floating barge, attached to one of two piers, will serve as a concert stage. And back on land, the downtown revolves around a 1.5-acre plaza and a wide main street lined with trees. The concept was based on Las Ramblas, a street in Barcelona, Spain. Also planned are 900 housing units.

In all, Peterson estimates the piers, restaurant and downtown area will cost about $360 million. Prince George's County has approved an additional $170 million in bonds to build sewers, streets and other infrastructure. The bond money is to be repaid by Gaylord Entertainment, which is opening a $600 million convention center and hotel next to the downtown harbor area.

Concern has been expressed over the project's environmental impact, with critics initially filing a lawsuit. County officials say those environmental groups have since dropped their lawsuit and are working directly with government staff members.

Associated Press

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