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View Poll Results: What do you think of the National Harbor in PG County?
I love it! It is fantastic!!! 10 17.54%
It's OK, and should get better as the economy recovers! 18 31.58%
It could be better...a whole LOT better. 22 38.60%
They should rename it "National Disaster". 7 12.28%
Voters: 57. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-18-2010, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Some T-1 Line
520 posts, read 815,608 times
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I was born and raised in Ward 5 of Washington, DC. In 2003, I moved to Fort Washington, MD. During that time, the big anticipation was the development of the National Harbor, a 300+ acre mixed-use development project located in Oxon Hill/Fort Washington that would give residents a place to shop, dine and just have fun.

Fast forward to 2010. The project has been completed for 2 or 3 years (well, mostly completed. Enough is open to make an assessment on the place), and I must say that I am completely disappointed for the following reasons

Dining: The restaurants are average, at best. They are either (a) overpriced and the service or food not worth the cost (trust me, I eat at, and do not mind pay for, Ruth Chris, Butterfield, DC Coast, and Chart House) (Bond 45 and Moon Bay fit this category), (b) Not good at all (McCormick and Schmick's fits this category), (c) good, but not diverse enough on the menu to make me a regular (Mandarin, Rosa Mexicana fits this category), or (d) inconsistent with their service/food/menu (Ketchup fits this category).

Retail Shopping: What retail shopping? I mean, it's like Milt Peterson and his organization thought the best way to keep the riff-raff out was to put in high-sididy, unrecognizable boutiques that are waaaay overpriced. They did not want any sneaker stores or any other stores that would attract young, "urban" people to the area. Everyone wears tennis shoes. Every demographic shops at Foot Locker, Ann Taylor, etc, or their comparables. There are no complimentary men's stores or women's stores in the area, and, if so, there is not enough variety. There may be, at best, 1 store where a man can buy a pair of jeans - and the jeans are $100+ bucks! The t-shirts are > $50. There is no electronics store, no bookstore, and no regular place to eat (ie., McDonald's, Johnny Rocket, a dang-on Cinnabon, or put a Fudgery in that place, please). If you count the number of stores open, they have a higher percentage of art galleries (I believe they are up to 5 art galleries) than they have clothing stores. That's 5 art galleries, 1 shoe store, 3 clothing stores for women, 1 furniture store (I don't know why), 2 handbag stores, and 1 jewelry store. Wow, I did not know that art was so popular.

Now, I know the economy is in the tanks, and it's probably taking some effort to get some businesses to commit to developing new space or expanding in this uncertain economic hell hole that we are in. But, c'mon, people, you cannot tell me that there could not be more diverse, brand recognizable, and economically reasonable stores that the National Harbor could not have gotten to commit to leasing there.

Parking: It's like they are trying to recoupe all of their development money ASAP by charging ridiculous amounts of money to do what -- walk around and look at buildings...because God knows the restaurants are not all that and you definitely cannot shop there. During Xmas time, they charge a flat fee of $10 bucks to view a half-baked Xmas play with fireworks. I can go downtown in DC, which is 20 minutes away, park for FREE on Constitution Ave, Penn. Ave., or any other street and watch the PRESIDENT light the NATION'S Xmas tree and view the 50+ other trees surrounding it (DC's and the other territory's trees are included). Even better...I can at least park for free (2 hours) down in Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria and get my shop/eat/socialization on -- and these are affluent areas with an abundance of selection and variety of stores to shop in. I may have to walk a block or 2, or 3, but I am going to be walking either way (not unless I invest in a Segway).

Now, not to sound cheap, but my wife and I travel, we make a very good middle-class salary, and enjoy entertaining ourselves and our 2 kids. We waited for this project and PG County still cannot get it right.

I'm sorry for ranting. I just wanted to get other people's perspective on the National Harbor. What is your overall opinion of the National Harbor? What are your likes, dislikes and what would you like to have seen done differently or added in the future? Who knows, maybe someone from the Peterson Corp. will read this and take heed.

Last edited by ajsmith365; 10-18-2010 at 09:52 AM..
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:48 AM
 
Location: The mountain of Airy
5,145 posts, read 4,985,538 times
Reputation: 3401
Six months ago, my wife and I stayed in the National Harbor for two nights, as she had a conference to go to over the weekend, and I figured I'd tag along. We ate, walked around, ate, walked around, and then finally decided to get drunk (both evenings).

I know it's still being invested in and is very young, but the National Harbor is just NOT for me. It's very bland, there's no great way to get to it (unless you drive), and I just didn't care for the restaurant offerings. It feels like a suburban plot on the water with no beaches and a high price-tag.

My vote is "National Disaster" right now, with the expectation that in 10 years it will work its way to "It could be better...a whole LOT better".
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:34 AM
 
Location: DMV
10,136 posts, read 11,211,573 times
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OP I definitely understand where you are coming from, but I think we have to look at what they were trying to accomplish with the National Harbor. When you go there, you get a sense they are trying to separate it from the rest of the local area by having these unfamiliar brands, exorbitant parking prices, and high-end restaurants. It pretty obvious they do not want to attract the Rivertowne/Eastover shoppers. Let's be honest, if they had stores like Foot Locker, Ann Taylor, etc. then we would probably see the same clientele that you see in some of the other parts of Oxon Hill which could possibly breed the same issues (crime), so why pay money to park and shop at a place like that when you can go to those same stores for free in just about any other shopping center in PG. I'm sure there are a billion places we can all go to in this area that would probably be more worthwhile than National Harbor but I think it still needs more time to develop.

It still doesn't really have a whole lot to offer, but compared to what Southern PG has had before as far as dining/shopping this is a marked improvement. I just think this county overall needs to do a better job in bringing development to this part of the county anyway. I still don't understand why Fort Washington hasn't developed more than it has. I understand that there are some parts that tend to breed crime, but Fort Washington definitely isn't as bad as some of the northern parts of county that has plenty of dining/shopping options. If the development was there in Fort Washington/Accokeek then I would see the reason not to go to National Harbor, but right now, it's really the only thing going on this side of Southern PG (and yes Rivertowne and Eastover stores/restaurants have the worst customer service so I don't even count that area).
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Some T-1 Line
520 posts, read 815,608 times
Reputation: 448
Quote:
Originally Posted by meatkins View Post
When you go there, you get a sense they are trying to separate it from the rest of the local area by having these unfamiliar brands, exorbitant parking prices, and high-end restaurants. It pretty obvious they do not want to attract the Rivertowne/Eastover shoppers. Let's be honest, if they had stores like Foot Locker, Ann Taylor, etc. then we would probably see the same clientele that you see in some of the other parts of Oxon Hill...
Meatkins, I agree with you and appreciate your view on it. I have rationalized that as well. However, you are not going to get any more diverse with your stores. A store is a store. For example, Tysons I and Tysons II (Galleria) - it is obvious that Tysons II is the high-end store. However, Tysons II still has a J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Coach (brand recognizable), Cole Haan, Macy's, and Ralph Lauren. These are reasonable stores. Additionally, Tysons I and II compliment each other, what you cannot get at one, you can get at the other. Or, what you can get a one, you can get a premium equivalent at the other. The Harbor and Rivertowne do not compliment each other (yet, they are managed and/or owned by the same company).

You are never going to keep poor people out of anything. The only way you are going to do that is by building something that is not near a metro line and far, far away from where they live (that's why Tyson's fought that metro for so long, and I can't blame 'em). #1, I've seen people who are below middle-class status (no offense) or with no documented income dress far better than I do and with more name brand stuff. Or, they are just going to come down there and check it out and window shop and use it as a hangout. So, they are going to come, regardless. That's why on Friday nights the traffic in the Harbor is so backed up because people are using it as their Haines Point with the motorcycles or just walking and just plain in the way, so you might as well sell them something.

All I am saying is put something there we can use. Even if you say, we'll keep out the poor people by putting a Neiman Marcus in there; fine. At least it is a department store that sells a variety of stuff. And, Tysons Galleria (II) has a Neiman Marcus AND a Macy's. And, you mean to tell me you cannot put a Barnes and Noble there so people can sit on their laptops and hang out or buy a book. Every time my kid has to get a book to read for school, I have to run to Potomac Yards or Blvd. @ the Cap Centre. When I want electronics I have to go to Potomac Yards, Waldorf or Bowie. When we want clothes, the same thing.

I just think that it is ignorance and fear to let a group of people who may potentially cause trouble to dictate what you build. Because, to be honest with you, they broke the basic rule of Marketing 101 - Product, Price, Promotion and Place. The development does not match the demographics that they are servicing. Virginians are going to come, and I see them jogging and walking around, but I don't see any bags in their hands because VA has far better shops (Old Town, Tysons I and II, Pentagon, Potomac Mills, etc.). Washingtonians are not going to drive all the way to National Harbor to shop when they have G'town, and VA. The older, middle- to upper-class blacks in the neighborhood are going to eat, but they are not shopping in those stores at those prices. I know they aren't selling condos all like that; and, even if they did, they may pick up a shirt or two and that's it. The younger, middle- to upper-class blacks in the area are not shopping at those stores; not in significant numbers. So, that leaves the hopes of sales up to the tourists. As you can see, Erwin Pearl already folded, and guess what's coming in its place...you guesed it, another art store (that's art store #5).

Thank you meatkins for your honest POV. I hope I didn't rant too much. I just see it as unfortunate that, after all is said and done, the residents of PG county still have to go across the bridge or back into the city (or to Waldorf, Bowie or even Baltimore County/City) to shop.
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:04 PM
 
24 posts, read 47,941 times
Reputation: 24
Default It could be a WHOLE LOT better!!

I live close by the National Harbor and go there from time to time, mainly for the restaurants. I would love for them to put some better retail stores in there so that when I'm paying all of that money to park, I'm at least coming out of there with bags of decent things without breaking my budget!

And for the restaurants, they could do a whole lot better. Whenever I drive in there and see the Bond 45 restaurant, I sigh at the amount of money I paid for the dinner I actually received, and I don't have a problem paying a lot for good food. And on the subject of the eateries there, where are the quick-meal restaurants like Chipotle/Qdoba, a Panera Bread-type place, Noodles & company, a pizza restaurant???? I was surprised though to see the Auntie Annie Pretzel kiosk. Even the ice cream eatery is expensive (Ben and Jerry's).

And what's with all the art stores, like ajsmith365 said??? And what about the upscale pet store....what is that?
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Some T-1 Line
520 posts, read 815,608 times
Reputation: 448
Quote:
Originally Posted by smithcl1 View Post
I live close by the National Harbor and go there from time to time, mainly for the restaurants. I would love for them to put some better retail stores in there so that when I'm paying all of that money to park, I'm at least coming out of there with bags of decent things without breaking my budget!

smithcl1, you are sooooo right. Even if there was one flagship store down there, who in the world is going to pay $3.00 to park just to go to one store?

Again, I hope that this is just the recession/depression at work. I am going to try and give them the benefit of the doubt and say that, when it is all said and done, that the National Harbor will be a wonderful place. And, I know I have bashed the heck out of them, but Cadillac Ranch is a nice, consistent place to visit that is very, very nice. I'm surprised they are putting a CVS down there. What, the Louis Vitton Pharmacy store turned them down? (I know, that wasn't nice ).
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:50 PM
 
Location: DMV
10,136 posts, read 11,211,573 times
Reputation: 3176
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajsmith365 View Post
Meatkins, I agree with you and appreciate your view on it. I have rationalized that as well. However, you are not going to get any more diverse with your stores. A store is a store. For example, Tysons I and Tysons II (Galleria) - it is obvious that Tysons II is the high-end store. However, Tysons II still has a J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Coach (brand recognizable), Cole Haan, Macy's, and Ralph Lauren. These are reasonable stores. Additionally, Tysons I and II compliment each other, what you cannot get at one, you can get at the other. Or, what you can get a one, you can get a premium equivalent at the other. The Harbor and Rivertowne do not compliment each other (yet, they are managed and/or owned by the same company).

You are never going to keep poor people out of anything. The only way you are going to do that is by building something that is not near a metro line and far, far away from where they live (that's why Tyson's fought that metro for so long, and I can't blame 'em). #1, I've seen people who are below middle-class status (no offense) or with no documented income dress far better than I do and with more name brand stuff. Or, they are just going to come down there and check it out and window shop and use it as a hangout. So, they are going to come, regardless. That's why on Friday nights the traffic in the Harbor is so backed up because people are using it as their Haines Point with the motorcycles or just walking and just plain in the way, so you might as well sell them something.

All I am saying is put something there we can use. Even if you say, we'll keep out the poor people by putting a Neiman Marcus in there; fine. At least it is a department store that sells a variety of stuff. And, Tysons Galleria (II) has a Neiman Marcus AND a Macy's. And, you mean to tell me you cannot put a Barnes and Noble there so people can sit on their laptops and hang out or buy a book. Every time my kid has to get a book to read for school, I have to run to Potomac Yards or Blvd. @ the Cap Centre. When I want electronics I have to go to Potomac Yards, Waldorf or Bowie. When we want clothes, the same thing.

I just think that it is ignorance and fear to let a group of people who may potentially cause trouble to dictate what you build. Because, to be honest with you, they broke the basic rule of Marketing 101 - Product, Price, Promotion and Place. The development does not match the demographics that they are servicing. Virginians are going to come, and I see them jogging and walking around, but I don't see any bags in their hands because VA has far better shops (Old Town, Tysons I and II, Pentagon, Potomac Mills, etc.). Washingtonians are not going to drive all the way to National Harbor to shop when they have G'town, and VA. The older, middle- to upper-class blacks in the neighborhood are going to eat, but they are not shopping in those stores at those prices. I know they aren't selling condos all like that; and, even if they did, they may pick up a shirt or two and that's it. The younger, middle- to upper-class blacks in the area are not shopping at those stores; not in significant numbers. So, that leaves the hopes of sales up to the tourists. As you can see, Erwin Pearl already folded, and guess what's coming in its place...you guesed it, another art store (that's art store #5).

Thank you meatkins for your honest POV. I hope I didn't rant too much. I just see it as unfortunate that, after all is said and done, the residents of PG county still have to go across the bridge or back into the city (or to Waldorf, Bowie or even Baltimore County/City) to shop.
You know I completely agree with you and I said the same thing about the National Harbor the last time I walked down there. I went down there Labor Day weekend and thought, who around this area (Oxon Hill/Fort Washington) is going to shop at these stores? I walked up to one of those art stores and looked inside and, to be quite frank thought, what black person is going to come down here and buy this stuff????? My wife found one store that was decently priced, but I know I would not spend one red cent at any of those clothing or art stores. I agree I find myself, going to VA (I live in Oxon Hill near the Fort Washington line) far too many times since I'm close to the bridge and there isn't anything of quality on our side of bridge. It would be nice to have an upscale store like Neiman Marcus or Macy's but it doesn't seem like they are considering those places. It would also be nice to have stores that cater to the area clientele, but they aren't trying to.

And trust me I appreciate your opinion on this as well because I have grown tired of the nonsense in this county and I grew up in Fort Washington/Accokeek, so my parents had to drive further out to shop and dine just like your family and my family has to now. To be honest Rivertowne isn't really that bad, but the area is not aesthetically pleasing as shopping areas in VA and the people who work there have poor attitudes. My wife and I drive out to do our grocery shopping in Alexandria as opposed to Oxon Hill because of the countless number of bad experiences. As a whole, I don't see any reason why this part of PG can't have nice eating places and better shopping centers, but it starts with the leaders we vote in.
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:51 PM
 
Location: DMV
10,136 posts, read 11,211,573 times
Reputation: 3176
Quote:
Originally Posted by smithcl1 View Post
I live close by the National Harbor and go there from time to time, mainly for the restaurants. I would love for them to put some better retail stores in there so that when I'm paying all of that money to park, I'm at least coming out of there with bags of decent things without breaking my budget!

And for the restaurants, they could do a whole lot better. Whenever I drive in there and see the Bond 45 restaurant, I sigh at the amount of money I paid for the dinner I actually received, and I don't have a problem paying a lot for good food. And on the subject of the eateries there, where are the quick-meal restaurants like Chipotle/Qdoba, a Panera Bread-type place, Noodles & company, a pizza restaurant???? I was surprised though to see the Auntie Annie Pretzel kiosk. Even the ice cream eatery is expensive (Ben and Jerry's).

And what's with all the art stores, like ajsmith365 said??? And what about the upscale pet store....what is that?
They might get some of those restaurants eventually. I heard they are trying to build a gas station and a restaurant or two near where the Plateau is located.
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:05 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
32,105 posts, read 39,155,933 times
Reputation: 40510
It certainly hasn't lived up tp the hype and expectations. Some of it is the "build it and they will come" mantra. This isn't meant as a slam but it is in Prince George's County and the expectation was that people would forget that and come down from Montgomery, over the bridge from NoVA or in from Annapolis. That hasn't happened yet and may never happen.

A prediction: expect it to be a location for slots in the next couple years. There are going to be more locations for slots authorized either in the 2011 Legislative session or in 2012.
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Old 10-18-2010, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Some T-1 Line
520 posts, read 815,608 times
Reputation: 448
Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
A prediction: expect it to be a location for slots in the next couple years. There are going to be more locations for slots authorized either in the 2011 Legislative session or in 2012.
Good observation, North Beach Person...very good. Now that you mention that, I totally forgot that when they were first developing National Harbor, or proposing it, they wanted to have gambling boats on the Potomac.

I totally agree.
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