Tuesday, November 19, 2019

SunTrust signage, mobile branch arrive at Kenwood Professional Building

SunTrust Bank's Westwood branch is relocating from the Westwood Shopping Center to the Kenwood Professional Building, as I reported over the summer. Over the weekend, a mobile branch unit arrived, and was parked in the bank's future front driveway. Yesterday, the bank's permanent signage was installed.

Bethesda child kidnapping attempt stops traffic (Video+Photos)


A woman was arrested after a massive police response to the attempted kidnapping of a child in downtown Bethesda last night. Police cruisers and a Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad ambulance rushed to the intersection of Norfolk Avenue and Woodmont Avenue by Veterans Park after 7:00 PM Monday evening, shutting down traffic in some directions. Officers were unable to provide details about what had happened, likely because the incident involved a minor. Bystanders reported hearing that an adult female had interacted with an adult, and later a child, in the area prior to the swarm of police cars arriving.

Later in the hour, police marched a woman out of a business at the intersection in handcuffs. A 39-year-old female Bethesda resident was later charged with kidnapping, abducting a child under 12, kidnapping a child under 16, harboring a kidnapped child under 12, second-degree assault, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and disorderly conduct. No further information about the incident has been publicly released by the police department as of this writing.
BCC Rescue Squad ambulance responds
to the scene

As many as 10 police cruisers initially
responded to the incident

Monday, November 18, 2019

Auto parts stolen from Bethesda Metro parking, concealed weapon arrest at school + more - Crime Update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across the Bethesda area on November 15:

Theft of auto parts. Bethesda Metro station parking.

Credit card fraud. 3900 block Virgilia Street (Chevy Chase).

"Sudden death." 5500 block Thornbush Court.

Concealed weapon arrest at school. 6400 block Rock Spring Drive.

Missing person. 11300 block Schuylkill Road (Randolph Hills).

Armed robbery (gun). 4600 block 38th Street N.W. (D.C.)

Theft from auto. 2700-2711 block Foxhall Road N.W. (D.C.)

More Christmas decorations installed at Westfield Montgomery Mall! (Photos)

Westfield wasn't finished decorating for the holidays at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. They've added a bunch of new trees, candy canes, Christmas mints, ornaments and assorted other trimmings around the mall. And I caught Santa Claus on his throne this time, getting ready to take photos with mall patrons. Can the start of Black Friday, which falls on Thanksgiving these days, really only be ten days away? You better believe it! Christmas shopping excitement is in the air.

First look: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Bethesda Row update and menu

Here is the first glimpse of the completed interior at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, opening soon next to Mamma Lucia at 4918 Elm Street at Bethesda Row. The awning has also been attached to the storefront.
I have a preview of the menu below, as well. As you can see, the limited-time flavors are already posted, and I am pleased to report most of them are holiday-themed. Stay tuned for an opening date, which looks like it could be any minute now.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Assault at downtown Bethesda restaurant, car stolen from parking garage + more: Crime Update

Here is a list of crimes in the Bethesda area reported on November 12 and 13, 2019:

November 12

Aggravated assault, disorderly conduct at restaurant. 7700 block of Woodmont Avenue.

Stolen car. Parking Garage. 7000 block Arlington Road.

Shoplifting. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

November 13

Credit card/ATM fraud. 5300 block Westbard Avenue.

Shoplifting. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Theft from auto. 3300-3315 block Maud Street N.W. (Palisades).

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Verizon proposes new cell antennas for downtown Bethesda

Verizon Wireless is proposing to erect new wireless communication antennas atop the Montgomery County-owned Woodmont Corner Public Parking Garage 11 at 7730 Woodmont Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The company intends to place antennas and related equipment "at a centerline height of 58 feet" onto the structure.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Residents petition to spare Ayrlawn Park from consideration as school site

A group of Bethesda residents have started an online petition asking Montgomery County and Montgomery County Public Schools to remove Ayrlawn Park at 5652 Oakmont Avenue from consideration as a future school site. The park is not only used by the community, but also by programs at the nearby YMCA.

This is a classic example of how our corrupt, developer-funded elected officials lower costs for those developers at residents' expense. No park of any kind should ever be under consideration as a school site. If development leads to school overcrowding, the developers clearly need to contribute more, either in impact taxes or by providing land on-site or off for new schools. Currently we don't have councilmembers ethical enough to have such clarity on the vital importance of parks - probably because each of the nine councilmembers has accepted thousands of dollars from their developer sugar daddies.

We recently heard more fake news from the County Council alleging that single-family homes and tear-down replacement SFHs are somehow escaping paying their fair share in taxes. Not true. In fact, the County's own numbers state that townhomes are now the highest-student-generating form of housing, and have been approved en masse by the same blabbermouths now seeking another tax on small business developers who specialize in tear-down redevelopment. Multi-family housing is driving school overcrowding - over half of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students live in apartments, as just one example.

It's no surprise that the same urban-oriented developers and their puppets on the Council would want to run the small home developers out of business and discourage redevelopment that perpetuates SFH suburban neighborhoods. Both are planning to apply multi-family zoning to those existing, successful neighborhoods as I type this. And they'll do it, unless the public wakes up and lowers the boom on them.

JBG Smith rebrands 7900 Wisconsin Avenue as 8001 Woodmont

Developer JBG Smith has rebranded its mixed-use project at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue as "8001 Woodmont," intriguingly choosing the lesser-known, smaller road behind the property over the regionally-familiar Wisconsin Avenue as the development's landmark. While the property is still currently referred to as 7900 Wisconsin on JBG Smith's website, the firm has launched a new website for the project that solely uses the 8001 Woodmont branding.
Banners touting the new name and website were placed around the construction site on Thursday. The website and banners describe retail space as still available at the property, which is scheduled for a 2020 delivery.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Scaffolding being removed at the Cheval Bethesda

The scaffolding is being removed around the Cheval Bethesda luxury condo tower at 4960 Fairmont Avenue in downtown Bethesda. It was temporarily erected after glass fell from an 8th floor balcony; all similar glass components have now been replaced by developer Duball, LLC. Scaffolding remains around the Flats 8300 apartments along Woodmont Avenue, Battery Lane and Wisconsin Avenue months after glass shattered and struck a child on the sidewalk below.

Christmas trees delivered at Bethesda Row (Photos)

The Christmas trees have arrived at Bethesda Row. Trees on Bethesda Lane and Woodmont Avenue were delivered, unpacked and decorated Wednesday.

Sign installed at Madison Reed at Bethesda Row

The permanent sign has been installed at Madison Reed Color Bar, opening soon on Woodmont Avenue at Bethesda Row. A hair coloring salon, Madison Reed will be located next to Mussel Bar.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Carr Properties welcomes future tenants to The Wilson in Bethesda (Photos)

Developer Carr Properties has posted welcome signage around the construction site of their 7272 Wisconsin Avenue project saluting the future tenants of The Wilson, the 29-story office tower portion of the development. Fox 5, WeWork, and ProShares are among those mentioned.

MD, VA agree on Capital Beltway Accord, American Legion Bridge widening

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a historic Capital Beltway Accord at a joint appearance at the Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington, D.C. yesterday. The bi-state agreement, which does not yet specify a timetable for completion, would widen the failing American Legion Bridge between the two states by adding tolled Express Lanes on and near the bridge. The states would split the cost, with the heaviest burden being picked up by Maryland, and both states expecting tolls will cover the entire $1 billion projected expense.

The accord also puts the backburnered Hogan plan for Express Lanes on the Beltway between the Legion Bridge and I-95 back on the table. No details on the staging of the that project in relation to the bridge widening were put forward Tuesday. The bridge changes would almost certainly fail to solve congestion if the new Express Lanes end at River Road instead of I-95, as they would only create another choke point there.

Adding Express Lanes to the Beltway and I-270 won't take the place of a new Potomac River crossing, which would take about 25% of rush hour traffic off of the Legion Bridge, according to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study earlier this decade. They won't provide the direct access to Dulles International Airport from Montgomery County that international businesspeople have made clear they require to consider locating their headquarters here.

In fact, without a new Potomac River bridge north of the Legion Bridge - and major changes to County and Maryland tax and regulation schemes, Tuesday's accord would simply be another victory for Virginia and the crafty Northam from an economic development standpoint. Improved travel times for non-Dulles-related traffic on the Beltway would certainly help all of us, and are absolutely worthy of public support. But without direct Dulles access and a competitive business climate, the Beltway accord will simply reinforce our position as the bedroom community for the booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

The accord is a win for Hogan, however, as he considers a surprisingly-strong bid for the U.S. Senate. If he stands his ground on the Potomac-to-I-95 Beltway Express Lanes this time, Hogan will have delivered a start on major traffic relief on both failing interstates in Montgomery County in time for the 2022 election. Hogan was also the governor to finally get the new Nice Bridge project moving after decades of delay; that structure is scheduled to be well under-construction by the time he would take on Van Hollen.

Hogan hasn't even been grandstanding to the extent he could on transportation. He has quietly delivered new improvements on I-270 - such as new feeder lanes that allow entering vehicles from some ramps to proceed on the freeway without having to merge - over the last year. Surprisingly, he hasn't called a press conference to crow about these small but significant traffic flow upgrades.

Considering Van Hollen's weak legislative record, scandalous history of conspiring to reduce African-American turnout in his 2016 primary run against Congresswoman Donna Edwards (earning a rebuke from Hillary Clinton herself in the process), and Hogan's bipartisan support, this could be a top-tier contest. Neither man excites the core base of his party. But if these transportation projects move forward, Hogan will have done something Van Hollen hasn't in over a decade - deliver actual change for his constituents.