Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Harbor already attracting celebrities

Luxury development fosters growth in county

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Accomplished jazz pianist Marcus Johnson says he’s ready to call Prince George’s County home.

Johnson will move from Silver Spring to a 1,300-square foot penthouse condominium at National Harbor in Oxon Hill in August, when construction of a 242-unit complex is expected to be completed.

Johnson, a frequent performer at Ozio lounge in Washington, has had five of his eight albums ranked in the Billboard Top 20 contemporary jazz chart. His most recent album, The Phoenix, came out in July 2007.

Johnson said several of his friends live in southern Prince George’s County, and he plays golf at Country Club at Woodmore. Moving to National Harbor will eliminate a treacherous 40-minute commute on the Beltway, he said.

Plus, Johnson sees the opportunity as a great way to be part of an up-and-coming community.

‘‘It’s just a great concept of mixed-use living in the right location,” he said.

Johnson said he and his wife, Rhonda, had been looking for a home. They checked out the University Town Center in Hyattsville, but the $2 billion National Harbor development on the banks of the Potomac River caught their eyes because of features such a jogging path that goes around the harbor and a community environment.

‘‘It’s not just retail and restaurants,” he said. ‘‘It’s an upscale lifestyle community. There really is no better investment in Prince George’s County.”

Johnson believes the upscale living options at National Harbor will attract more people to the county.

‘‘It’s about time,” he said. ‘‘[Prince George’s] has been overlooked for way too long.”

Condominiums at National Harbor will cost between $275,000 and $1 million, said Stuart Prince, residential development director at the Peterson Company, which is developing the site. So far, 375 units have been sold in the two complexes, which have a combined 405 units.

Prince said National Harbor would have a lot to offer its residents. He said National Harbor would be the only development on the Beltway with its own exit. ‘‘We have the convenience of urban living along with restaurants and entertainment.”

Two projects on site will offer luxury living for residents.

The first is Fleet Street, where a hotel and a 163-unit residential building are scheduled to open in March 2009. The residential building will have balconies, private terraces and a full range of amenities. A concierge service will include dinner reservations, pet services, concert tickets, fishing excursions and sightseeing in Washington.

Jim Keary, a spokesman for Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, said the luxury living at National Harbor is defying all current real estate trends.

‘‘Sales at National Harbor are brisk,” he said. ‘‘National Harbor is the largest development of land on the East Coast. It will become an entertainment Mecca for the entire region.”

Keary said with the county becoming home to high-quality development, property values are skyrocketing. Last year, property values went up 56 percent.

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