Harbor Timeline

Friday, April 25, 2008

Early: The site, which contained a Native American burial ground, was part of a land grant from Lord Baltimore to John Addison, a Maryland settler who commanded the Prince George's militia in the 1600s.

1960s: A developer proposes to build the Smoot Bay Waterfront Center. The Smithsonian proposes an Armed Forces Museum.

1980: James H. Burch and Frank Lucente buy the land from the widow of Lewis Egerton Smoot, who mined the land for sand and gravel.

1983: Prince George's County approves initial zoning for the 485-acre Bay of Americas, a commercial and residential development.

1984: James T. Lewis, a Virginia developer known for building much of Tysons Corner, takes over the project and changes the name to PortAmerica.

1987: Lewis ceremoniously breaks ground. The Federal Aviation Administration, citing air-traffic concerns, forces him to scale back a proposed 52-story tower.

1988: The county approves a revised project with a 22-story tower. Lewis agrees to reduce the amount of wetlands to be filled.

1991: Lewis defaults on a $20.7 million loan and eventually loses the property to lenders.

1993: The federal Resolution Trust Corp. takes control of the property. Lewis later tries to buy it back but is not allowed to bid.

1996: Northern Virginia developer Milton V. Peterson buys the 500-acre site at auction.

1998: Prince George's approves plans for National Harbor and fast-tracks the review process. Then-County Executive Wayne K. Curry gets Peterson to agree that 30 percent of construction contracts go to local or minority-owned firms.

1999: Congress removes federal oversight, avoiding a protracted review process that could bring added environmental protections, in a move shepherded by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)

2000: Peterson announces that Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment will build a hotel and conference center on the property. The project was initially called Opryland Hotel Potomac, which drew criticism from some residents.

2004: Residents who sued to stop the project settle a five-year legal battle after Peterson agrees to concessions, including developing a plan for downtown Oxon Hill.

2004: Prince George's agrees to designate the site a special tax district with $160 million in bonds for roads and other infrastructure.

2006: Curry's successor, Jack B. Johnson (D), changes the original agreement at Peterson's urging, stripping out the entertainment component and adding 2,500 residential units. Johnson drops the minority participation requirement to 15 percent.

2008: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center opens to guests April 1 and has its official opening today. National Harbor's restaurants and stores open next month.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company