National Harbor Stakes a Claim

Stationery showcases the harbor project's newly created address.
Stationery showcases the harbor project's newly created address. (National Harbor)

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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Call it the "Gateway to the Nation's Capital."

Call it National Harbor, Maryland.

But what ever you do, don't call it Oxon Hill.

On brochures, Web sites and other tools used to market the massive $2 billion waterfront project being built on the Potomac River, the Peterson Cos. never acknowledge that they are moving into Oxon Hill, and they barely mention Prince George's County.

The development that promised to put the county on the map with its white-tableclothed restaurants and swank hotels is creating its own map and its own home town: National Harbor.

"I don't know where they got it from," Kenneth Stevenson, the U.S. Postal Service postmaster for Oxon Hill and Fort Washington, said of the address. "They are Oxon Hill."

Rocell R. Viniard, vice president and director of marketing for the National Harbor project, said Peterson Cos. initially wanted to receive a "unique Zip code" or use the Fort Washington's 20744 Zip code -- and not Oxon Hill's 20745.

"National Harbor is a unique destination, and therefore a Zip code of its own seemed essential to avoid confusion of what area you were referring to," Viniard said.

But because of homes near the project that would be affected by a Zip code change, the developer agreed instead to just a new community name.

"The postal service felt this would provide the uniqueness, local identity we were looking for without affecting their service to existing customers," Viniard said.

Some Oxon Hill and Fort Washington residents chuckled when they heard about the address, saying developer Milton Peterson obviously wanted to distinguish the project.

"I don't know how you market something like this," said Sarah Cavitt, a community activist. "I imagine he is trying to capitalize on being close to the Capitol."

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