The Gazette: A First at National Harbor -- Apartments

December 13, 2010

Greenbelt developer Bozzuto to build, manage 350-unit community

As the housing market has shifted from owning to renting, National Harbor has signed up The Bozzuto Group to help develop, build and later manage the $4 billion Oxon Hill resort's first apartment community.

The joint venture between the Greenbelt housing company and National Harbor developer The Peterson Cos. of Fairfax, Va., will produce a 350-unit community, according to company officials. Touted as a "first-class" project, the unnamed community is to include 25,000 square feet of street-level retail space. It is also to be certified through the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, with amenities including a Zen garden, according to Peterson information.

"A multi-rental project was always planned for National Harbor," said Stuart Prince, vice president of residential development for Peterson. "It's fair to say, we will have future rentals as well."

Peterson eventually plans 2,500 residential units at the 300-acre Potomac River complex, in addition to its hotel, convention and retail space. About 75 percent of its 400 current condominiums have already sold, Prince said. Forty percent of National Harbor's 46 townhomes and four manor homes also have sold, said spokeswoman Rocell Viniard.

Bozzuto's apartment project will be National Harbor's fifth residential community and is set to open in 2013, with construction to begin next fall.

Prince said he expects the rental project to compete well with similar properties across the Potomac in Alexandria, Va.

Bozzuto has considered working on apartments at National Harbor for many years, said Toby Bozzuto, president of Bozzuto Development, but National Harbor officials were more interested in condominiums during the housing boom.

Prince said National Harbor officials wanted to focus on creating a critical mass of condominiums to complement the hospitality and retail development, which opened in early 2008. When the project was planned in 2005 the homeowner market was more robust, he said. Since then, the market has dictated a shift toward rentals.

"They called us this summer to ask about a partnership," Bozzuto said. "We were thrilled. Peterson has an exceptional reputation ... Being part of a project as magnificent as National Harbor is extraordinary."

"Bozzuto shares our family-owned business culture," Prince said.

Prince said Peterson ultimately plans for a mix of rental and owned properties at National Harbor, although he was not sure of the proportions.

Bozzuto manages 3,100 apartment complexes throughout the country, mostly in the Washington, D.C., area, Bozzuto said. This includes high-end Alexandria units, he said, adding that National Harbor might be the better location because of its easy access to the Capital Beltway.

"We hope Bozzuto brings a really beautiful project to what is already a beautiful community," he said.

The apartment project is to be at the intersection of American Way and Fleet Street, across the street from the CVS drugstore and Potomac Gourmet Market, both set to open in the next four months, according to Peterson information.

National Harbor also is looking forward to the 500-room, 15-acre Disney resort hotel project, for which Disney signed an agreement in 2009, and the 140,000-square-foot Children's Museum, which is set to break ground in 2011.