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Walt Disney Co. cancels plans to build a resort at National Harbor

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The world’s best-known entertainment company said in a statement the day after Thanksgiving that the timing isn’t right to start another new project. As reported in The Washington Post, Disney already has a $4.4 billion Shanghai Disney Resort under construction in China, and it has purchased global theme park rights to “Avatar,” a successful motion picture.

Disney purchased 11 acres for $11 million at National Harbor in 2009, raising expectations that it would invest in the mixed-use project, located just outside Washington, D.C., along the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  The Peterson Cos. in Fairfax, one of Northern Virginia’s most prominent developers, holds the majority interest in National Harbor. A Disney project would have raised the project’s profile as a national tourist destination.  This is the second time Disney has said no to the Washington metro region. Back in the 1990s, the company rejected plans for a history theme park called Disney’s America on farmland near the Manassas Civil War battlefield, after the proposal drew lots of local opposition.

So far, about one-third of a planned 8 million square feet has been developed at National Harbor, and more development is on the way. The site, just over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, already has six hotels, including its anchor, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, which has 2,000 hotel rooms and 470,000 square feet of meeting space. The Peterson Cos. plans to begin work next year on a 388,000-square-foot Tanger Outlets Center.  Several new stores and restaurants opened recently, and new openings will continue in 2012, including a Wolfgang Puck Catering business. 


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