Friday, September 23, 2016

One more sign in Bethesda of Montgomery County's anti-business climate

No major corporation has relocated its headquarters to Montgomery County in nearly twenty years. Thanks to the County's moribund private sector economy, office property owners have had to scale back their expectations, and try to lure smaller tenants. Whole-floor suites built with corporate headquarters in mind get hacked up into smaller office units, as firms like Intelsat and Northrop consider MoCo, and then pick Virginia instead.

So, while they didn't break the County Council's humiliating two-decade streak of no Fortune 500-size firms moving here, Brandywine Realty Trust had to be delighted when The Donohoe Companies - a major regional player in real estate development and construction - leased two floors at its newly-renovated 7101 Wisconsin Avenue office building.

But it almost didn't happen.

"Had we known then what we do now," Donohoe President and COO Chris Bruch told the Montgomery County Council at a public hearing Tuesday, the company might have chosen another jurisdiction. Was it the typical reasons that companies who choose Virginia or the District have cited, like the lack of direct access to Dulles Airport? The severe traffic congestion? Montgomery County's notoriously business-unfriendly climate and record high taxes?

No. It was the sign ordinance.

The high visibility of the office building at 7101 Wisconsin Avenue, along with $600,000 in incentives and loans from MoCo and Maryland, helped seal the deal for Donohoe. As the largest tenant in the building, Donohoe expected to be able to install signage on its facades, which loom over a major commuter route.

Instead, Bruch recounted, the company was "quite surprised" to learn that their signage plan would not meet the outdated restrictions of Montgomery County's sign ordinance. While that "may not seem like a big deal," Bruch said, "It is." Large tenant signs are currently restricted to a facade where a customer entrance is located.

Jennifer Russel of the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce testified that the current sign rules are "detrimental to the economic vitality of Chamber members." She said the importance of anchor office tenant signage was stressed recently by an official with the Maryland Department of Commerce. Major tenant name visibility is a barometer for visitors of "how thriving the economic center is" in an area like Bethesda, she said.

Brandywine Realty Trust's Deb Santano said that the zoning text amendment (that would allow Donohoe's signage) currently before the Council would help "foster a positive economic development climate in the County." With office property owners having to scale back expectations to smaller tenants, she said, the inability to allow additional tenant signage is "out of step with today's market."

It was telling that the only opposition testimony to the ZTA was from two members of the County's Sign Review Board; both stressed they were only speaking for themselves, not the board.

If you drive down Massachusetts Avenue into the District, you will eventually pass by the headquarters of one of Donohoe's competitors, Douglas Development. You can't miss it, because the building features gigantic, lit signage for the company visible from every direction. Montgomery County companies need the same advantage.

The sign ordinance. Who knew?

One more thing I hadn't even thought of to add to the list of reasons why, as of this writing, MoCo hasn't scored a single major corporate headquarters in two decades. And one more thing that needs to change.

86 comments:

Anonymous said...

So a new law is coming to help matters - which is an improvement.

Anonymous said...

Discovery moved to Silver Spring in 1998 right? Or was it the 2000's? That was a plus for Moco

Robert Dyer said...

6:01: Discovery moved from Bethesda, so it wasn't coming from another jurisdiction.

5:36: Assuming it passes, yes.

Anonymous said...

So the title is a bit misleading. The sign law seems "anti-business" but it's improving. So the "anti-business" climate is improving in Moco. You should be happy for improvement. As small as it is of course

Robert Dyer said...

6:20: Very small. It's clear the Council doesn't have the energy or stamina to tackle the big issues. That's why they stick to really important stuff like banning Raid, Styrofoam and teenage tanning beds. Hans Riemer is so low-energy that when he gives a fireside chat, the fire goes out.

Anonymous said...

Dyer, why do you so flippantly dismiss concerns about pesticides, non-biodegradable trash, and skin cancer?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert Dyer said...

6:38: Because while the Council was focused on those vanity issues, they were ignoring the 911 system and code violations and deteriorating apartment buildings, and 9 people are now dead as a result. I think most would argue those were a higher priority than what container your Chinese take-out comes in. Facts.

Anonymous said...

The Litany of St. Birdbrain is underway.

Anonymous said...

"Hans Riemer is so low-energy that when he gives a fireside chat, the fire goes out."

This is why no one takes this blog seriously, and you attract all the trolls. Are you 12? Stop with the immature insults, and focus on reporting facts.

I do agree that there are a lot of anti-business ordinances in Montgomery that should change, but DC and Arlington have them too. You should be glad that we're making a change for the better, but you rant on with your typical untruths, extreme hyperbile, and pathetic insult attempts.

Also, I believe I speak for everyone who visits this site when I say that we are tired of your extreme exaggerations of Montgomery County being moribund. This is 100% wrong. Even Gov. Hogan admits that the county is the economic engine for the state.

Anonymous said...

I realize that it was a typo, but "hyperbile" is a delightful neologism that perfectly captures Dyer's essential style.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Agreed with the immaturity of Dyer's responses.

Kinda reminds me of Trump.

Anonymous said...

8:00 AM Spot on! Thank you for a rational critique of the lack of professionalism expressed by the author of this blog. These one-sided, politically slanted views provide nothing positive for the reader or the operator. Improve your style or cease and desist.

Anonymous said...

Immature. Name calling. Illogical. Family money. Lots of people dislike him. Etc. makes sense.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:32 AM, do you know how to write in complete sentences?

Anonymous said...

8:00AM - You certainly don't speak for me.

What would you prefer? A yes-man to local government?

It's a blog. It's Dyer's blog. No one is forcing you to read or agree. It's nice that you have suggestions to deliver news and commentary to your particular likes and preferences.

Then there's the word. It's just a freakin word: MORIBUND. Get over it. It may be harsher than you think is necessary, but there's a lot more truth to it than you want to admit.

The economic climate in Maryland sucks. It doesn't matter where else the economy sucks or doesn't suck. What matters is doing something to better Maryland.

Don't blame the troll problem on the content. The attacks they level are personal.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


8:46 - Somewhere out there is a tree, tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. I think you owe it an apology.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:56 - I believe there is a typo in your comment. You meant to type "6:46".

Anonymous said...

It's really funny how comments to Dyer's shill get deleted even quicker than those to Dyer himself. Does Dyer's shill have administrative privileges here?

Robert Dyer said...

8:00: This blog is taken so seriously that the MoCo political cartel has to spend angel investor money on competing websites to counter my message. So seriously, that one sizable chunk of daily traffic comes from Montgomery County Government offices, according to analytics data. You, the paid troll, are the only one posting "childish insults." Montgomery County isn't the economic engine of the state by any means, but merely the largest source of taxes for the parasites in Annapolis to feed on, and return a small chunk of it to us back here in MoCo. Those taxes are from employment mostly located outside of the County, and from government jobs, which are not private sector economic development.

8:32: Perhaps the most succinct description of Hans Riemer I've read. Excellent writing - I salute you.

Anonymous said...

Nope, not a shill. Just a realist. and I did indeed mean 8:46. The troll-child @8:46 was posting an infantile personal insult. How predictable.
The troll-childs get scared when it's actual real issues and have to resort to blather.

Robert Dyer said...

8:26: "One-sided, politically slanted views." Sounds like the angel-investor-funded websites I compete against. The critical difference - my slant is toward the residents and taxpayers of Montgomery County. I'm not at war with my own readers, trying to bring some radical change the residents of Bethesda don't want.

Robert Dyer said...

Moribund. It's a wonderful word.

Anonymous said...

Getting the popcorn out and watching the "anonymous" angry blogger run in circles attacking Robert Dyer's readers.

You're not gonna sell subscriptions to your magazine by attacking Bethesda residents who read Dyer's reporting on here.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dyer - here's an idea! Instead of ranting 24/7 and talking about your "ideas" for when you ultimately fail to get elected again, why don't you try to bring these Fortune 500 companies to MoCo by starting your own Landlord or Tenant rep business! If you actually make it happen you are a shoe-in for a seat at the table and no longer become a rat-glasses wearing freak-a-zoid. Let's see results from you instead of ranting - that's what'll actually get you elected. G'luck!

Anonymous said...

@1043 is a NoVa poser and MoCo wannabe #keepdreaming #LONGLIVETHEREIGNOFDYER

Anonymous said...

10:43 Gosh. You almost had a good idea. Until you let your envy get in the way.

Why don't you stop your Dyer bashing and start your own local news site. Let's see if you're as good at accomplishments as you are at insults.

Anonymous said...

11:01am alot of Dyer clone sites out there already and a large list of failed Bethesda blog ventures.
(Hello BethesdaNOW, Patch, etc.)

Anonymous said...

@9:05

(I'm 8:02)

"government jobs, which are not private sector economic development"

You mean jobs that give Maryland the nation's highest median income, and place one-third of the state's counties (including MoCo) in the top 1% of wealthiest counties in the nation? Or do you mean jobs that don't disappear during recessions?

"that the MoCo political cartel has to spend angel investor money on competing websites to counter my message"

"according to analytics data"

"You, the paid troll"

Ha. You have no idea who I am, but there's no use arguing with you if you truly believe the absurdities that you post. Please continue to think that everyone who doesn't agree with the nonsense is a county spy out to get you, if that helps you deal with your extreme and bizarre insecurities. You're so delusional that it's not even funny. At least you have one (paid?) yes-man (8:43) who's gullible enough to eat up the babble and will come to your defense 24/7.

Anonymous said...

Why does the same "anonymous" guy post here everyday and bring every discussion back to his own self-published blog or magazine along with a few personal attacks on Dyer sprinkled in?

He doesn't even troll well, his threats are laughable and his insults are tired and fall flat.

Anonymous said...

So you complain when the county is anti business and then you complain when they take steps to improve the situation.

Anonymous said...

You know what's really hilarious? In all the comments here, the only references to "other blogs" or "magazines" are from Dyer himself or his idiot sidekick.

Anonymous said...

"Thousands of jobs for this area"

Why won't Dyer touch Bethesda's biggest news story of the year?

http://wtop.com/money/2016/09/marriotts-starwood-merger-done-mean-bethesda/

Anonymous said...

2:53pm what's really hilarious is that all you can do is insult folks.
Maybe Leventhal will hire you?

Anonymous said...

Why does Dyer hate angels?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_investor

Anonymous said...

I find this hilarious considering how often Dyer insults people.

Anonymous said...

This comment is in violation of policy and is pending deletion.

Robert Dyer said...

6:40: No reader is ever insulted, but I certainly don't hesitate to return fire at our resident paid troll's vulgar and nasty comments.

I remember Giffords said...

Dyer has inspired folks and they think they are "competing" with him. Chevy Chase based millionaires, well heeled Potomac housewives, etc.
Good for the dentist office waiting room, but not representative of MoCo.

Anonymous said...

Different name, same old stupid talking points. Whom do you think you're fooling?

Anonymous said...

Giffords/Elm - would you call someone whom the voters of Montgomery County rejected, twice, "representative of MoCo"?

Anonymous said...

"alot "

There is no such word in the English language, Birdbrain @ 11:33 AM. Didn't you notice that red line under that word when you typed it?

Anonymous said...

8:28 PM sounds like one of Mr. Leventhal's tirades with his staff

Robert Dyer said...

8:22: Given that MoCo had the lowest voter turnout in the state, and less than 1/5 of registered voters participating, you can't claim any candidate was embraced or rejected.

Anonymous said...

10:08 PM sounds like a Birdbrain who lives in Dyer's Mom's basement's subbasement.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 2:38 AM EDT - Looks like you're using the "silent majority" argument which you ridiculed during the discussion about Westbard.

Anonymous said...

I'm a reader and I'm disgusted by your rudeness and language. I was introduced to your site for great Bethesda local news and now even my teenage daughter notices how mean spirited you are.

Anonymous said...

Your 'teenage daughter" singles out Dyer as the mean-spirited one?
She must go to public school.
Have you figured out how to spell burglary yet?

Anonymous said...

@ 7:15 AM - have you figured out how to spell "a lot" yet?

Anonymous said...

8:04AM Um. That wasn't me. Sorry to disappoint you. But thank you for thinking of me. I point out spelling mistakes. You always want to confuse me with the grammar warden.

But I will call you out for bitching about it since "alot" is a known colloquialism. Why insist on formal speech in this blog?

Anonymous said...

Your name is "Anonymous", really? Do you expect anyone to read your posts, I stopped at your second post. If you don't have the courage to use you name, you dont deserve to be read or heard.

Anonymous said...

Says Dyer's Bravely Anonymous Shill @ 10:36 AM. Practice what you preach and develop some semblance of self-awareness, Birdbrain.

Anonymous said...

:) :)) :)))

Anonymous said...

Dyer's stalker/troll is firing in all directions. Funny to watch him melt down.

Anonymous said...

Says the guy who posts as anonymous. Lol.

Anonymous said...

What's with the quotes?

Yes she goes to BCC.

What is the relevance of burglary?

Anonymous said...

It's about time we got term limits in Montgomery County!
www.mocotermlimits.org
facebook.com/mocotermlimits

Anonymous said...

Dyer won't publish his "third-party analytics" because they show that he has many critics but at most one supporter.

Anonymous said...

Good try. Not buying it.

Robert Dyer said...

3:08: Wrong again, moron - the voter statistics clearly indicate that a very loud majority did not bother to come out and vote. In contrast, there never was a single physical piece of evidence that your fabled "silent majority" ever existed at Westbard. Facts.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 8:36 PM:

"A very loud majority" chose not to vote for you.

You see how this works?

Robert Dyer said...

9:34: Nope - they didn't vote or not vote for anybody. About 85% of voters DIDN'T VOTE AT ALL on Election Day in 2014. The worst turnout in the state. Wake up and smell the term limits.

Anonymous said...

85% of MoCo residents didn't feel the need to schlep to the polls to vote for you.

Of the 15% who did vote, 2/3 of them didn't vote for you.

95% MoCo residents did not vote for you, one way or the other. Deal with it, Dyer, and stop being such a whiny, defensive loser.

Anonymous said...

He absolutely doesn't need to publish his analytics - many sites don't. But don't tout them as evidence of anything if you aren't willing to back up the statement.

Anonymous said...

7:09AM - you mistake those who voted for someone else with those who specifically voted against Dyer.
Maybe 2/3 didn't vote for him. But 2/3 did not purposely vote against him.

This is just logic. It could be anyone who lost. Like Marc Elrich. He lost several times, yet just may be the best of the current bunch.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe 2/3 didn't vote for [Dyer]. But 2/3 did not purposely vote against him. This is just logic. It could be anyone who lost."

Keep spinning, you pathetic codependent birdbrain.

Anonymous said...

Real life:
So 15% voted? Hardly a mandate for the current bunch.
And, as 8:02am said, many folks like Marc didn't win initially either. Same deal on municipal councils. In Rockville, Tom Moore lost badly before winning. It's the way politics works.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Your petulant childish behavior. Do you stomp your feet too?

I'm saying your logic is flawed. It doesn't matter who the candidate is, your logic is the loser.

Anonymous said...

Dyer in 2010: 82,773 votes

Dyer in 2014: 80,991 votes

The trend is sharply downward, in spite of the facts that Montgomery County's population increased, and that Dyer was better known in 2014 than in 2010.

Anonymous said...

The power of incumbency is huge. In office, you get time on WMAL, local TV, the Post, the Sentinel, several local blogs, local magazines, the County's cable channel, the county's own news service (my mc media), the county's radio show, etc.

Hard to compete against that.

I wish we could get more than 15% of folks interested in voting! It would help if incumbents would attend candidate forums/debates around the county.

Robert Dyer said...

9:39: The only reason I received less votes in 2014 is because TOTAL VOTER TURNOUT WAS LESS IN 2014 THAN IN 2010, "Mr. Dumass."

Robert Dyer said...

10:56: Yes, in fact the 4 At-Large incumbents didn't show up at a debate organized by the Greater Olney Civic Association in October 2014. There were about 100 residents packed in, and what a slap to their face by Leventhal, Floreen and Riemer, and to GOCA. First time in County history that incumbents failed to honor an official civic association debate. Later, it was learned that Hans Riemer was at a wine and cheese reception at a Potomac mansion - and I'm not making that up, it was a publicly known event.

Time for term limits.

Anonymous said...

"100 residents" is 0.01% of the County's population. There were more than that attending the "wine and cheese party in Potomac".

Anonymous said...

Tarnation Bob's Mad Deebating Skilz:

http://robertdyer.blogspot.com/2014/10/4500-east-west-highway-office-building.html?m=1

Anonymous said...

"First time in County history that incumbents failed to honor an official civic association debate."

Montgomery County was established 241 years ago. How can you make such a wild claim with a straight face?

Robert Dyer said...

5:17: Because it's true. Facts. It had never happened before. Period.

5:09: My debating skills are one of the reasons the Council was too scared to show up and debate me in Olney that night.

4:52: You and other Council staff counting how many votes you can afford to lose vs. your personal and financial gain from developers is exactly why you are in this term limits mess. About the only bright spot of your paid trolling here, is that you accidentally let it slip out that they were literally counting Westbard-area voters they could lose.

#MoCoTermLimits #ThrowTheBumsOut

Anonymous said...

#2ChancesAreEnough

#KeepTheBumOut

Robert Dyer said...

6:05: Excellent summarization of Hans Riemer - bravo, sir.

Anonymous said...

Is the MyMCMedia debate still posted online? You can see how terrible Reamer did in that one. Reportedly, Reamer peed his pants at the end. The look on his face via video confirms this.

I think he backed out of the next debate right after this one.

Anonymous said...

The weirdo who fantasizes about Hans Riemer's bodily functions is back.

Anonymous said...

7:06am at least you're not disagreeing that it happened. Video proves it.

Anonymous said...

"Video proves it"

Sure it does. Let's see it.

#DodgingTeamBirdbrain

Anonymous said...

Why is Dyer campaigning against only Riemer? Whether the referendum fails or not, there will still be nine Democratic candidates running for Council in 2018.