The Oxon Hill development, which many hoped would mark a new era for Prince George's County real estate, was well on its way to selling out its condos by the time it opened in April 2008, according to a residential sales executive. More than 400 of its 423 available units were reserved by eager buyers.
But today, just 60 percent of those units are sold.
"In the fall of 2008, the world was on fire," said Stuart Prince, the Peterson Cos.' vice president of residential development, referencing the stock market crash. "We typically lost about half our deals when all was said and done after what was nearly a sellout."
About 100 units were settled for the original pricing, he said. Condos in 2008 ranged from $300,000 to more than $600,000.
Then Peterson lowered its prices in the spring of 2009, which helped close 150 more deals. But this year the pace has slowed. Roughly 60 units have settled even though current prices are lower than 2008 by about 20 to 30 percent.
While disappointing, the pace isn't surprising -- and it's not just the economy, said Richard Clinch, an economist at the University of Baltimore who has consulted for the development.
"The fact that it is 60 percent sold out after three years is a factor of timing, not a factor of the desirability of the property," he said. "And it's not only bad timing with the recession but with scandals ... going on in the county."
In two years, county residents have seen a former schools superintendent sent to prison, the police department placed under federal investigation and corruption charges brought against a senior state senator, the county executive and his wife.
But there's an upside, Peterson executives said. The harbor's other business has steadily risen, said Kent Digby, vice president of operations. Hotel occupancy is averaging 80 percent and offices are 85 percent occupied, he said.
Peterson is now building other types of housing to attract different income levels. It is partnering with the Bozzuto Group to build the harbor's first apartment building, and Prince said the 50 luxury town houses being built -- and starting around $500,000 -- are 40 percent sold.
"We are very price driven," Prince said. "As our prices have reset we're now a value [compared] to ... D.C. and Arlington. That wasn't the case two years ago."