Friday, August 17, 2018

Water problems on Old Georgetown Road again (Photos)

Standing water was spotted in several places along Old Georgetown Road between Auburn and Cordell Avenues yesterday afternoon. By nightfall, utility crews were on the scene. Some lanes were closed due to the work. There have been repeated leaks and water main issues along this stretch of the road over the last two years.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

New details on UNIQLO grand opening at Pike & Rose

As I reported recently, Japanese apparel chain UNIQLO will be opening its Pike & Rose store on Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 10:00 AM. The company released some additional details about its grand opening events on Wednesday.

Japanese Taiko drummers will perform as a countdown to the doors opening just prior to 10:00 AM that day. The following special promotions will be offered on opening day, and September 2, and only at their Pike & Rose location:

  • Extra Fine Merino Sweaters:
    • Men’s: $34.90
    • Women’s: $24.90
  • Ultra Light Down Vests
    • Men’s and Women’s: $39.90
    • Kids’: $19.90
  • UTs (UNIQLO T-Shirts):
    • Men’s and Women’s: 2 or more for $9.90 each
    • Kids’: 2 or more for $7.90 each

  • Finally, neighbor Kung Fu Tea will be offering your choice of one of the following beverages for free on opening day, and on September 2 (one per customer per day): Passion Fruit Green Tea, Kung Fu Milk Tea, or Winter Melon Green Tea.

    “We look forward to opening our doors in Maryland for the first time, and introducing customers to UNIQLO’s exceptional service and innovative apparel designed to help your everyday life,” UNIQLO USA CEO Hiroshi Taki said in a statement yesterday.  “Pike & Rose offers a modern and convenient way to shop, work, and live, and we are excited to join the community in this shared mission on September 1st.”

    This is UNIQLO's first Maryland location; it has existing stores in Tysons and at Union Station. UNIQLO is located at 11853 Grand Park Avenue.

    Ice cream machine installed at Jeff's Best in Bethesda

    The most important thing at Jeff's Best Soft Serve Ice Cream was installed yesterday - the ice cream machine. A self-serve machine, it dispenses several flavors, toppings, and a spoon to eat it with.

    The machine is touting Turkey Hill as the manufacturer of the ice cream.There are also a few tables and chairs inside for dining-in.

    Stay tuned for news on the opening date. Jeff's Best is located at 8004 Norfolk Avenue.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    Two Bethesda office buildings part of Brookfield securitization deal

    Brookfield Property Partners has been criticized for carrying too much debt by some investment experts. The company also has office properties in moribund office markets like Montgomery County, also considered risky. Now BPP is placing several D.C. area properties into a $223.4 million securitization scheme through Morgan Stanley.

    One Central Plaza and 6110 Executive Boulevard, both located in Bethesda, are part of the deal, as is 51 Monroe St. in Rockville.

    Whether the move will ease critics fears of risk is unclear, however. Some argue that such deals themselves magnify risk, and obscure the equity the owner holds in the properties in question. Such securities were one of several factors that led to the "Great Recession" a decade ago.

    Soft opening at The Halal Guys in Bethesda

    In another indication that the grand opening of The Halal Guys is imminent, a soft opening event was being held at the restaurant last night. While the owners are still being coy about the opening date, my advice would be to call at lunchtime [(301) 347-7992] each day starting today to check, or walk by if you are in the area anyway. This is the first Halal Guys in Bethesda, and is located at 4915 Elm Street, across from Bethesda Row.

    The Claiborne is back - and bigger

    When developer Novo encountered another lengthy delay for The Claiborne, a boutique condo building proposed for 4820 Auburn Avenue, the lack of activity at the former Steamers site caused some real estate observers' eyebrows to arch. Now we know what the latest delay may have been about. Over that time, the developer has secured agreements to acquire 8005, 8007, and 8009 Norfolk Avenue, allowing the density of the project to grow.

    Where the original application approved called for 58 condo units and 2800 SF of retail space, a new proposed amendment bumps that up to 82 residential units and 5000 SF of retail. In addition, the amended plans now incorporate relevant aspects of the Bethesda Downtown master plan, such as the shared street vision for Norfolk Avenue. The master plan had not yet been approved when The Claiborne application was. You'll note the Auburn-facing "ladder" facade ornament has been deleted in the revised design.

    Many local observers felt the original plan was too small, and that more effort should have been made to assemble a larger site. Those critics will be at least somewhat satisfied with the revised plan, even if they would have liked to see the whole corner and Tia Queta as part of the deal. A public meeting on the plan amendments will be held on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane.
    The blank space at the corner represents
    properties that were not acquired for the
    development; the 17-story Gallery Bethesda
    is shown at rear of the site

    Images via Montgomery County Planning Department

    Tuesday, August 14, 2018

    Lenore Winters temporarily closed for renovations in Bethesda

    Interior design studio Lenore Winters is undergoing renovations. They will reopen on August 27, 2018. Located at 4911 Cordell Avenue, they offer custom interior painting, furniture, and interior design consultation among their services.

    Delina Eritrean Urban Kitchen to try to open again Wednesday in Bethesda

    After missing their original August 1 opening date, Delina Eritrean Urban Kitchen will try again this week. The restaurant now plans to open for lunch and dinner tomorrow, Wednesday, August 15, 2018. Delina is located at 4914 Cordell Avenue, in the old Heckman's Deli building.

    Monday, August 13, 2018

    Sign posted to promote Tastee Diner amidst Marriott HQ demolition in Bethesda

    Standing in the shadow of a bombed-out-looking office building with boarded up windows isn't the best atmosphere for the venerable Tastee Diner to lure customers, but the diner is still operating as normal. I wasn't aware there was any confusion about that fact, but apparently someone thinks there is. A small metal sign has appeared on a utility pole at the corner of Norfolk and Woodmont Avenue, which says, "DINER OPEN DURING CONSTRUCTION." It's a pretty unique, and obviously custom, sign. Next door, the roofless Blackwell Building awaits demolition to make way for the relocated Bethesda Marriott International headquarters.

    Sports Nation opens in Bethesda (Photos)

    Just days after ESPN announced it would be cancelling "SportsNation," Sports Nation has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The store carries licensed apparel and accessories for pro sports teams, with local teams well-represented in stock. Sports Nation is located near GNC on Level 1 of the mall.

    Sunday, August 12, 2018

    Bethesda construction update: 7272 Wisconsin Avenue (Video+Photos)

    Here are some scenes, including video, of nighttime work at Carr Properties' 7272 Wisconsin Avenue project in downtown Bethesda. At the time these were taken, they were pouring concrete, and you will see the articulated arm and cement trucks working from the Wisconsin Avenue side. The project includes office tower The Wilson, residential tower The Elm, and a Purple Line light rail station below the development.

    TacoArepa, 202 Donuts & Coffee, 202 Next Door close

    It was a strange 72 hours on Fairmont Avenue in Bethesda. On Wednesday night, a very solid source told me TacoArepa, 202 Donuts & Coffee and 202 Next Door - all located in a row on Fairmont Avenue - had permanently closed, and that employees were beginning to pack up and move out. Yet, when I went by early the next morning, 202 Donuts was open for business, and the furniture and equipment remained inside all three establishments. Sources in a position to know were unable to confirm the closures on-the-record at that time.

    Later Thursday, TacoArepa and 202 Next Door opened as well. Over the next 24 hours, TacoArepa was even still promoting itself on social media, urging folks to come in. Needless to say, this was a confusing series of events.

    Then Saturday, the original tipster was vindicated. All three restaurants, founded by brothers Alvaro and Alonso Roche, served their final meals. Messages in the windows announced this was it, for now, for the Roches' downtown Bethesda restaurant empire that began with Bold Bite on the same street seven years ago.

    But anyone who has dined at Bold Bite or TapaBar will have to predict that this is not the last we've heard from these talented brothers in Bethesda.

    Saturday, August 11, 2018

    What's next for the Bold Bite space in Bethesda?

    There's still no official word on what restaurant will replace the recently-closed Bold Bite at 4903 Cordell Avenue. A source told me a Popeyes fast food restaurant would be the new tenant. Popeyes' media relations department has so far declined to comment on that rumor.

    However, there is now a For Lease sign in the window of the space. If Popeyes has leased it, why is it being advertised as available? The plot thickens.

    Bethesda construction update: The Halal Guys (Photos)

    The Halal Guys looks all set to open at 4915 Elm Street in downtown Bethesda. No official opening date has been announced as of this writing, however. Their Rockville location has been open since February.