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WASHINGTON, DC-Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is investing in Maryland’s National Harbor–specifically, it has acquired 15-acres there from the Peterson Cos. for $11 million. Disney is considering using the site, which overlooks the Potomac River, as a location for a resort hotel. The resort hotel would be a stand-alone hotel separate from the company’s theme parks, according to a statement by the Peterson Cos., which did not return a request for comment to GlobeSt.com in time for publication.

The investment is a welcome development for the National Harbor, a roughly 300-acre resort area consisting of condos, hotels and retail space. It’s anchored by Gaylord National, one of the largest convention resort developments on the East Coast. Gaylord National opened last April with 2,000 guest rooms and 470,000 square feet of meeting, convention and exhibit space.

The coming hotel will also boost the DC region’s hospitality footprint, which has withered in the face of the recession and credit crunch. The Disney investment, plus other signs, point to the beginnings of a new cycle of investment. For example, ICG Properties and Castleton Holdings have said they will be redeveloping their Georgetown property at 1050 31st St. into an ultra luxury hotel.

Then there is the 218-room Courtyard by Marriott at 1325 Second St., NE, which opened earlier this year in NoMa. Majority owner Robert Finvarb of the Miami-based Robert Finvarb Cos., is also investigating additional hotel openings in other areas of the DC-metro area. Another sign of life: Hilton Hotels relocated its headquarters to Fairfax, VA, from Beverly Hills, CA, earlier this year.

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