Thursday, June 01, 2023

Rakugaki now open Mondays in Bethesda

announced this morning that it will now be open on Mondays. Hours will be the same as other days of the week, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM for lunch, and 4:30 - 9:00 PM for dinner. Rakugaki is located at 10233 Old Georgetown Road in the Wildwood Shopping Center. The Japanese restaurant opened earlier this spring, and is a sister restaurant to Raku at Bethesda Row.

Car stolen in downtown Bethesda

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of a vehicle in downtown Bethesda on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. The vehicle was reported stolen from a parking garage in the 4600 block of Montgomery Avenue at 6:00 AM.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Bethesda Row Giant selling "safety men"

The Giant at Bethesda Row is selling "safety men." They aren't robots to protect you from rising violent crime in Montgomery County. They are those plastic men often found in residential neighborhood roadways that warn drivers of "Children at Play." The Safety Man signs are popular, but are illegal to place in the road, and on lawns they are subject to County sign regulations. Montgomery County says it does not authorize "Children at Play" signs because it is illegal for children to play in the street.

Westbard Square construction update (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress on the new Westbard Square development at 5400 Westbard Avenue in Bethesda. The major additions have been on and above the ground floor storefronts facing Westbard Avenue out front, and the installation of window glass on the parking garage stairwell at the back. Both have greatly improved the appearance of those sections of the building. All businesses at the Westwood Shopping Center remain open during the construction.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Car stolen outside Bethesda apartment building

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from outside of a Bethesda apartment building. The vehicle was parked along the street in the 4700 block of Bradley Boulevard when it was stolen. It is believed the vehicle was taken sometime between 7:00 PM on May 26, 2023, and 9:00 AM on May 27.

Artena Bethesda development lot assembly on Planning Board agenda for June 1

A number of long-delayed projects in downtown Bethesda continue to spring back to life as the month ends. The latest move on the Artena Bethesda mixed-use development at 8000 Wisconsin Avenue will be about 48 hours from now, on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 9:00 AM. That's when the Montgomery County Planning Board will review and vote on a final record plat for the Artena site, which will assemble 7938-8000 Wisconsin (Saphire Cafe and Golden Needle tailoring shop), 8011 Woodmont Avenue (Sir Walter Raleigh Inn/Bruce Variety), and Montgomery County Public Parking Lot 43 on Woodmont. 

The parking lot is due to permanently close about a week after Thursday's Planning Board vote. Planning Board staff are recommending approval of the plat. The Artena Bethesda site plan has already been approved by Montgomery County. This is a formality, like the previous request for demolition permits, before work can finally begin on the project. But the public is allowed to testify at Thursday's public hearing.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Construction underway on new restaurant The Grove at Cabin John Village (Photos)

Construction has begun on Belgian restaurant The Grove at 7747 Tuckerman Lane at Cabin John Village in Potomac. The building is being converted from former tenant Lahinch Tavern and Grill. The Grove is the newest concept from the Common Plate Hospitality Group, which is behind several restaurants in the region, including Mason Social and Augie's, as well as the highly-anticipated food hall at The Shops at Wisconsin Place in Chevy Chase, The Heights.

Brick wall smashed at 7-Eleven in Bethesda (Photos)

A brick wall on the property line between 7-Eleven at 7820 Wisconsin Avenue and the vacant EagleBank at 7815 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda was badly damaged Sunday. It's unclear what happened, whether it was a large vehicle backing up and accidentally hitting it, or an intentional effort. A significant portion of the wall was knocked over, and even more of it is cracked. The metal fence on top was completely knocked off along the most heavily-impacted section of the wall. Both properties will be demolished if Montgomery County approves the Novel Bethesda development on this block, so it will be an unfortunate expense to have to repair this for the short-term.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Bainbridge Bethesda giving up on ground floor retail?

A prime St. Elmo Avenue retail space at the Bainbridge Bethesda apartment tower hasn't been a lucky spot for the short-lived bakery and coffee shop that have leased it so far. Perhaps the rent being asked for is too high, but there haven't been any takers since the coffee shop closed in August 2021. Now the space has been turned into a billboard for the rental apartments above. 

Bainbridge has fared better with its retail spaces that front onto Fairmont Avenue, holding onto pet store and gadget repair tenants there. But dreams of sidewalk cafe activity, or something that might animate the area around the building after dark, have failed to materialize almost a decade after the building opened. There's plenty of potential here on St. Elmo, but something is standing in the way of realizing it, and it should be diagnosed soon.

What's the problem here? It's not a good look for downtown retail, particularly when JBG Smith was able to attract A-list tenants like Trader Joe's and Orangetheory Fitness to an even-lower traffic area at 8001 Woodmont. Perhaps the arrival of the future St. Elmo Apartments next door will help boost the fortunes of the Bainbridge.

7340 Wisconsin developer applies to initiate environmental remediation of former gas station site

Greystar Development East, LLC has filed an application with the Maryland Department of the Environment to enter the Voluntary Cleanup Program for the former Exxon gas station property at 7340 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. Last year, Greystar introduced its proposal to redevelop the site with a mixed-use residential tower. At that time, the developer expressed hope that a groundbreaking would take place in Q2 or Q3 2023. Remediating any remaining soil or groundwater contamination is the first step in finally redeveloping the long-dormant site, and it looks like that could begin as soon as this summer if approved by the MDE.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Car stolen from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a stolen car at Walt Whitman High School at 7100 Whittier Boulevard in Bethesda yesterday morning, May 26, 2023. The vehicle was reported stolen from the school's parking lot at 7:02 AM Friday.

Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass to host Pride Month events in June

Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass (D - At-Large) will once again host or appear at a series of Pride Month events in June. This will be the fifth year Glass will perform this leadership role. The events will include Rockville Pride, an annual event hosted by the City of Rockville at Rockville Town Square, which will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2023 this year. 

June 11 will be Takoma Park Pride Day. Bethesda's Big Train baseball club will also hold a Pride Night on June 17. Pride in the Plaza will take place at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring on June 25. Events will kick off with the raising of the Pride Flag at the Montgomery County Executive Building on June 1. 

“I’m excited to host Montgomery County’s fifth annual LGBTQ+ Pride month events,” Glass said in a statement. “This is a time for celebration, reflection and unity. Today, the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans are under relentless attack. Members of the LGBTQ+ community — especially people of color and trans people — continue to face discrimination and efforts to undermine their human rights. As we continue our struggle for greater civil rights and liberties, Pride Month is a time to not only reflect on our progress but to focus on the work ahead.”

The Salt Line Bethesda Row construction update (Photos)

The Salt Line
still has about 3.5 weeks to meet its targeted Spring 2023 opening date at 4900 Hampden Lane at Bethesda Row. There has been enough major progress inside since my last update to suggest it might be possible. You can see that booth seating and light fixtures are now in place. Outside, wood paneling for the New England seafood house aesthetic has been attached to the facade. An awning/canopy is also being installed. As the banners outside announce, hiring for the restaurant is underway. The Salt Line will be the place to be this summer!