Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tower cranes to be installed at Marriott construction site next month

The development partners of the relocating Marriott International headquarters have announced the schedule of installation for two tower cranes needed at the site, at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. Crane #1 will be installed on June 8, 2019, a Saturday. Crane #2 will follow on June 22, weather permitting.

KONSTUnion opens in Bethesda

Upscale kitchens meet upscale bathrooms at the new KONSTUnion showroom at 7550 Wisconsin Avenue. Union Hardware has just merged with KONST at the latter's existing 7550 Wisconsin address, as their current location is about to be redeveloped as an apartment building. The combined venture does seem to be emphasizing bathrooms over kitchens now.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Jeff's Best now has coffee

Jeff's The self-serve soft serve ice cream vendor at 8004 Norfolk Avenue has just added another fancy self-serve machine. Jeff's Best ice cream now has Seattle's Best Coffee.

Commonwealth Indian opens at Pike & Rose

After many delays, Commonwealth Indian has finally opened at Pike & Rose, according to property owner Federal Realty. The new restaurant is located at 11610 Old Georgetown Road. Their menu features favorites like curry chicken and butter chicken, and the full bar and drink menu offer Indian beers, Indian wines and Indian cocktails. A champagne brunch will be served on weekends.

Friday, May 24, 2019

MoCo Council hikes property taxes, slouches toward bankruptcy in disaster budget

Property tax bills will rise for almost all Montgomery County residents in the coming year, after the Montgomery County Council approved a disastrous $5.8 billion FY-20 budget Thursday. The vote virtually ensures future tax hikes will be necessary, as the Council also went on a spending spree despite starting off with a $208 million shortfall. Increases in spending on Montgomery County Public Schools, already proven to have no impact on student performance despite record-large MCPS budgets this decade, will be a major cause of tax hikes down the road. Once the MCPS budget is raised, state law requires the Council to maintain that level of spending going forward.

The fact that the Council had no qualms about spending even more than MCPS asked for despite that binding maintenance-of-effort state law raises questions of the councilmembers' fitness for office. Councilmembers approved the massive spending on MCPS while knowing that there are only two uncertain sources to pay the additional $16 million, and one of those is a one-time $5 million possible payment from the state for upgrading the County's long-failing 911 system. The other $11 million? LOL - they'll figure it out. And thanks to the law, we now have to give MCPS - the system that has declined in performance even as spending on it has surged - that amount every single year going forward. We already are in the red every single year as far out as the forecasts go as it is. Heckuva job, Brownie!

"The annual [property tax] bill for the average homeowner will increase," the Council's press release on the budget vote acknowledges - while not admitting the real-world dollar value of that increase, which is far more than the "average" cost cited often by the County. That tax hike comes after the Council and County Executive Marc Elrich promised voters they would not raise taxes. 

Bloated and filled with loot for the Montgomery County cartel, the budget maintains the corrupt Council's MO of "managing the decline," and continuing our slow slouch towards Gomorrah. The Council has failed to take a single action on our economic development crisis since taking office last December, forgoing for another year any sensible attempt to increase our revenue from commercial development or attracting major corporate headquarters - something Montgomery County hasn't been able to do for over twenty years. Instead, the County has sunk to rock bottom by every economic development benchmark, even behind tiny counties like Culpeper and Rappahannock. It's humiliating.

Considering the Council has raised property taxes every year except 2014, imagine what will happen when the national economy goes into a recession. We are now in the weakest position ever to confront such an economic challenge. Given the County's massive debt, the much-touted AAA bond rating will be in jeopardy as soon as bad times hit, and we are due for a bust cycle any month now. Remember: we have to maintain this level of MCPS spending and county employee pay hikes every year no matter how bad the revenue picture gets.

With that in mind, it's obvious that while our leaders may be tools, they aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the drawer. But that's the caliber of leadership you end up with when most voters don't bother to research the candidates before voting, and simply go by the party affiliation after the name. We can't go on like this.

Delina Eritrean Urban Kitchen to close in Bethesda

Delina Eritrean Urban Kitchen at 4914 Cordell Avenue is the latest victim of the moribund Montgomery County economy. The restaurant has announced it will close permanently at the close of business on May 31, 2019. Referring to the nine months it operated as "tough but wonderful times," Delina thanked its customers for their business.

In their farewell statement, the restaurant's ownership noted that they had planned to have a 30 year run in Bethesda, but are now being forced to call it quits after less than a year. Costs have risen and profits margins shrunk for restaurants this decade thanks to the policies and votes of our anti-business County Council. Sixteen nightspots and dozens of restaurants have closed in Bethesda following those votes, and the Council's disastrous Nighttime Economy Task Force, which ironically ended up tanking the nighttime economy in downtown Bethesda.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Fogo de Chão sets opening date at Pike & Rose

Fogo de Chão, the Brazilian churrascaria that has taken over the Nike Factory Store corner spot at Pike & Rose, is about a month away from opening. Construction continues inside ahead of the June 24 grand opening date. Lighting fixtures, seating and even artworks on the walls are already in place throughout the dining room.

This is the fourth Mid-Atlantic location for Fogo de Chão, following openings in Baltimore, D.C. and Montgomery County's arch-rival Fairfax County. Moises Lopes will be Head Gaucho Chef and General Manager of this location, and first learned how to cook meats gaucho style growing up on his family's farm in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

The Pike & Rose Fogo de Chão will seat 300 indoors, with additional seating at the bar and outdoors. Founded in 1979, the chain's signature dining experience centers around the roasting of high-quality cuts of meats over open flame, which are then carved tableside by Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs. With a month to go, they are still hiring staff. Applicants for both the front and back of house can visit, or call 301-841-9200 for more information.

Bethesda teen missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing Bethesda teenager. Xiresse West-Owens, 14, hasn't been seen since the morning of May 11, when he left his home in the 6300 block of Greentree Road.

West-Owens is described by police as a black male, 5’8” and 140 pounds. He has black hair shaved on the sides, and brown eyes. West-Owens has family in Baltimore County, and they are concerned for his welfare.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Xiresse West-Owens is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24hrs), or the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400. Callers may remain anonymous.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza to replace Community in Bethesda

The long-vacant Community diner spot at 7776 Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda finally has a tenant. Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza has signed a lease for the space. Construction is underway inside.

Anthony's is a national chain with 60 locations, most in the northeast. Besides pizza, they are known for wings and Eggplant Marino, named after famed quarterback Dan Marino.

Pepco work causes traffic backups in downtown Bethesda

Pepco was seemingly working all over town during last night's rush hour and evening, a day after a power outage put thousands of downtown Bethesda customers in the dark for several hours. Traffic backed up around the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Arlington Road, as well as on Cordell Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue. Lanes were closed, causing traffic delays.