Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Nada to open November 19 at Pike & Rose

Nada, a Mexican tacos and cocktails restaurant, will open this coming Monday, Novermber 19, 2018 at Pike & Rose. The 6300 SF eatery, located in the ground floor of The Henri apartments, will be the Ohio-based chain's first East Coast location.

With seating for 140, and 50 more on the outdoor patio, Nada will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Nada’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Photo courtesy Nada

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - and Chanukah - at Bethesda Row (Photos)

The Christmas decorations at Bethesda Row have been lagging slightly behind those at Pike & Rose this year. They also are either going up in stages, unlike the mass unboxing of years past, or will be less complicated this year. Other changes include the menorah's move from the "Barnes & Noble corner" now occupied by Anthropologie & Co. to the Amazon Books corner. Perhaps landlord Federal Realty is acknowledging the "power corner" at the development has moved down to Amazon's spot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Danger!" warning at Bethesda condo renovation

An 8-unit condominium building at 4909 Hampden Lane is being renovated. Unlike most property renovations, alarming "Danger!" signs are posted around the property. Such signs are usually more associated with flammables, chemicals or electric shock. These signs have the notation, "Contains Lead." Perhaps they are repainting, and the old paint contains lead? The venerable brick buildings are located next to the new Toll Brothers City Living Hampden Row property, and The Lauren, two of the most-expensive condo properties in town.

Aria Beer, Wine & Deli appears to be for sale

Aria Beer, Wine & Deli, located in the ground floor of the Gallery Bethesda apartment tower at 4800 Auburn Avenue, appears to be for sale. The convenience store, which has a high 4.5 star rating on Yelp, is still in operation.

According to an online listing, the asking price for the business is $250,000. The rent is $3000 a month, the listing says, but will increase to $6000 after the Gallery Bethesda II tower across from the store reaches 50% occupancy. Rent was reduced to $3000 to compensate the business for the disruptive construction of that sister building, the listing notes.

This would seem like a good business opportunity. The store is convenient to multiple residential buildings and offices, and has offered a surprisingly-large selection of high-quality fresh food items for lunch and dinner. There's even a residents-only entrance inside the Gallery Bethesda, which makes it the ideal destination for occupants seeking general groceries, Budweiser or a quick snack in bad weather.

With a second tower of equal height opening next month across from the store, there's a lot of potential for this store to do brisk business.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Firefighters respond to EagleBank building in Bethesda (Photos)

Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the EagleBank building at the corner of Woodmont and Fairmont Avenues before 8:00 AM this morning. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services and Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad personnel entered the building, but it appeared to be a false alarm.

Olive & Loom coming to Pike & Rose

This Larissa throw is the bestselling
product for Olive & Loom this month
Olive & Loom, a retailer of home, lifestyle and gift items from around the world, will open at Pike & Rose in the spring of 2019. The store will be located at 11815 Grand Park Avenue, between Stella Barra pizzeria and Francesca's.

The company is owned by the owner of Sabun Home at Bethesda Row. Olive & Loom has sold its products online, in retail stores, and at Sabun Home since 2016. The 765 SF Pike & Rose location will be its first standalone bricks-and-mortar location.

Photo via Olive & Loom Instagram

Creepy cameras removed in downtown Bethesda

Surveillance camera at the "apartment building
for homeless people" on Cordell Avenue, and others,
vanished this weekend after my report on them
last Friday was published
All of the creepy surveillance cameras that appeared in downtown Bethesda immediately following the Montgomery County election last week appear to have been removed this weekend. I've heard from readers that some of these cameras have appeared at other random locations in greater Bethesda, and even as far away as Wheaton.

First look at Westwood Shopping Center construction phasing plan

New drawings submitted by Regency Centers and EYA to the Montgomery County Planning Department show some of the details and conditions that will exist during different phases of the Westwood Shopping Center redevelopment. The overall site plan must receive approval from the Planning Board, and the developer has retained the caveat that the staging order and timing can change at their discretion.
Outer construction road between remaining
surface parking and Kenwood Place parking
lot during Phase 1 for construction vehicles
Currently, however, the plans show Giant and the tenants left of the Giant remaining in place, while the bank next door and Rite Aid will be demolished. Once demolition is complete, construction of the new Giant store with additional retail units will begin right next to Giant and the customer parking. About half of the 72 planned townhomes will also be constructed on that end of the existing surface parking lot. Surface parking will remain during that phase for patrons of Giant and the other remaining businesses.
Construction fence separating
Giant customer parking from
new Giant construction site
A construction fence will separate the surface parking for Giant from the new Giant and townhome construction area. Continuous Jersey barriers along the outer edge of the remaining parking lot will form an outer construction road for construction vehicle ingress and egress from the Anglo-Dutch side of the property.
Giant store will be demolished in Phase 2,
but businesses to the left like Westwood Pet Center,
Westwood Barber Shop, Fashion Craft Cleaners,
Starbucks and Anglo-Dutch Pools+Toys will remain
In Phase 2, the new Giant opens, and Giant customers will have to use garage parking. The current Giant store will be demolished, but the tenants to its left will still remain in place. Surface parking for those businesses will also remain. The Manor Care nursing home will be demolished at that time.
Look how close this townhouse (in grey at
bottom left) is to the vehicle and customer
entries to the new Giant building. Is this
townhouse one of the MPDUs?
In Phase 3, the remaining retail wing of the original shopping center will be demolished, and the rest of the 72 townhomes will be constructed. There will be 200 apartments in the new building constructed in place of the old shopping center.
New residents at the shopping center will bring
517 new cars to already-jammed local roads
like River Road
At completion on the shopping center site, there will be approximately 680 new residents and 517 new cars for those residents, based on the very-conservative Great Recession U.S. Census estimate of 1.9 vehicles per unit. No road improvements are planned for River Road or Massachusetts Avenue to handle the 517 additional vehicles each rush hour. More new cars and residents will arrive in future phases of the Westbard redevelopment, eventually exceeding 3000 at full build-out, in a space of only one-and-a-half blocks.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Bath & Body Works relocates at Westfield Montgomery Mall

Bath & Body Works has reopened in its new location at Westfield Montgomery Mall, just in time for Black Friday. Look for it on Level 1 by the Kia Stinger Salon.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bethesda Sears store closing moved up a month

The expected closure of the Sears store at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda next spring has been moved up a month, according to a statement by the struggling department store chain. Westfield had previously announced the iconic retail anchor would close in March 2019. Now, Sears says, the store will close in February.

As I previously reported, Westfield has already acquired the Sears building. It plans to tear it down, and replace it with a mixed-use town center development.

Friday, November 09, 2018

South Street Steaks update

Work continued inside South Street Steaks on Cordell Avenue yesterday. Last evening, crime scene-style tape was across the front of the building. At the same time, the "OPEN" sign was lit, though the restaurant was obviously not open. It has been closed for several months since it was hit by a car. Workers are repairing structural damage to the building this week.

Creepy cameras appear in downtown Bethesda - are they recording you? (Photos)

Several surveillance cameras have appeared in the Woodmont Triangle area of Bethesda over the last 48 hours. They are attached to poles at many locations, including outside of the apartment building for homeless people at the corner of Cordell and Woodmont Avenues, at Cordell and Wisconsin Avenues, outside Sala Thai on Cordell, outside Manny & Olga's at Rugby and Woodmont Avenues, and outside Harris Teeter at Battery and Woodmont Avenues.

With no public announcement of the installation or purpose of the cameras, the appearance of the webcams is rather creepy. I asked Bethesda Urban Partnership about the cameras, and a spokesperson said the organization - which maintains the downtown Bethesda business district - was not aware of them. It's somewhat troubling that such an extensive network of cameras could be installed on public property without Montgomery County government or the public being informed.

The cameras belong to National Data & Surveying Services, which provides them for surveillance purposes, primarily in the field of traffic data collection. They record video around the clock with a birds-eye camera lens. The cameras are also utilized to monitor large public events, and for "graffiti patrol."

Jonathan Brubaker, DMV-area Manager for NDS, says that the cameras are collecting data on the volume and type of vehicles passing by. The footage is not stored, he said, but is turned into data which is then handed over to their clients. When asked if pedestrians' faces are obscured in the collected footage, Brubaker said no facial recognition was being utilized. Are license plates being recorded by the cameras? Brubaker said "no personal information" is being collected.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Repairs underway at South Street Steaks building

A construction team is now working inside the South Street Steaks building on Cordell Avenue. The restaurant has been closed since it was struck by a car earlier this year. Many around the Woodmont Triangle are hoping the cheesesteak shop can return to the space soon.

Cemetery advocates shut down HOC meeting again (Video)

Bethesda resident Lynn Pekkanen
testifies at HOC on behalf of Montgomery County
Councilmember-elect Andrew Friedson,
who was stuck in traffic
Advocates for the preservation and memorialization of the desecrated Moses African Cemetery descended on the monthly meeting of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, to protest the HOC's revived plan to develop new building atop the Moses African Cemetery on the Westwood Tower site in Bethesda. For the second time in a year, protesters successfully shut down the meeting, as HOC commissioners hastily voted to adjourn and retreat into a nearby sealed room to escape chanting activists who outshouted HOC Chair Jackie Simon.

This was the biggest turnout yet at the HOC to preserve the cemetery. The crowd of protesters exceeded the fire code capacity of the meeting room, forcing two HOC employees to bar the doors, letting additional attendees enter as others left one-by-one.

Protesters also brought more power behind their cause in the form of County Executive-elect Marc Elrich, the only County Councilmember who has stood in solidarity with Macedonia Baptist Church and the descendant community in the cemetery fight.  Elrich indicated that the cemetery is high on his very busy agenda by making his speaking appearance for the cause his first official action as County Executive-elect. The next executive struck a tone of cooperation with HOC in resolving the issue, but there's no doubt Elrich has the power to replace every commissioner currently on the board when their terms end.

As successive speakers took jabs at the HOC, the tone quickly became more combative, concluding in shouts of "Give us the land! Give us the land!" that drowned out Simon's attempt to read a legal statement about the HOC's new cemetery redevelopment effort. The HOC is attempting to minimize the church's status as the sole existing party to the cemetery by creating a blue ribbon commission on the graveyard with stakeholders who don't actually have any direct connection to the graves.

Outshouted and losing control of the meeting, commissioners hastily voted to adjourn and fled the room. Protesters were asked to leave. But at the same time as protesters and HOC security and officials argued over whether or not Macedonia Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry Chair Marsha Coleman-Adebayo had been threatened with arrest by the HOC, MBC trustee Harvey Matthews and HOC Director Stacy Spann had a more quiet and cordial discussion on the other side of the room.