Friday, May 14, 2021

Lucky Strike sets reopening date at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Lucky Strike
is addressing its neon lanes for a post-lockdown return next week at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The entertainment center on Level 1 of the mall is now scheduled to reopen next Thursday, May 20, 2021. Lucky Strike is promising a safe return to bowling, ping pong and billiards, as well as the dining and cocktails the chain is known for.

Gas shortages, lines persist in Montgomery County

Despite the efforts of officials at all levels of government to downplay the Colonial Pipeline crisis, many gas stations across Montgomery County were still out of fuel yesterday, while others hosted lines of vehicles stretching out onto the roadways. Some stations switched their digital price signs to all zeros. 

Gas pumps at the Westbard Citgo station in Bethesda were roped off with yellow tape Thursday afternoon. Several stations on nearby River Road were dark last night, but drivers were able to queue up at the Shell station at 5110 River Road. Long lines were seen at gas stations at the Montgomery Village Center on Montgomery Village Avenue, and along Rockville Pike, as well.

Maryland Comptroller and Montgomery County resident Peter Franchot appeared unaware of the number of stations sold-out of gas, when he told The Washington Post that he doubted the gas app tallies of dry-tank stations across the state, arguing that the actual number was lower. Many media reports cited average prices significantly lower than what drivers were actually paying in Montgomery County yesterday. 

Although the Colonial Pipeline has been restarted after the owners reportedly paid a $5 million dollar ransom, it is taking time to restock stations. Some station managers reported receiving smaller amounts of gas than they would usually get per truck.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Spanish Diner opening today at Bethesda Row

The long-awaited opening of Spanish Diner at 7271 Woodmont Avenue at Bethesda Row is here. Today is opening day at the latest venture by celebrity chef José Andrés, which replaces the Bethesda outpost of Jaleo that closed late last year. 

Bethesda drivers line up for gas as Colonial Pipeline crisis leads to panic, shortages (Video+Photos)

Bethesda drivers queued up for fuel Wednesday as the Colonial Pipeline crisis hit Montgomery County. Media reports fueled panic that led to long lines at most gas stations across the county. 

At the Liberty station at the Bradley Shopping Center, some pumps were out of higher grades of fuel Wednesday afternoon. By last night, the Exxon at Wisconsin Avenue and Battery Lane had run dry. Cars had lined up down Battery Lane there earlier in the day. Prices at the Exxon surged over $3 and $4, depending which grade of gas you were purchasing. Some pumps were "bagged" at Sunoco on River Road by late evening.

The pipeline is reportedly coming back online, but it is expected to take several days to resupply all of the affected gas stations across the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States. This crisis has again brought attention to the dwindling number of gas stations in Bethesda. There are only four left downtown.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Crosswalk signals being readied for reactivation at 8001 Woodmont intersection

It hasn't been possible to cross Woodmont Avenue at St. Elmo Avenue by the new 8001 Woodmont development for several years, as the closed eastern sidewalk left nowhere to cross to. Now that the sidewalk has reopened, new control boxes have been installed, and preparations are being made to reactivate the signals.

Wylie Grey pop-up fills Follain space at Bethesda Row

A new Wylie Grey pop-up shop has moved into the vacant Follain space at 4810 Bethesda Avenue at Bethesda Row. The Gaithersburg-based online apparel retailer was founded in 2016 by Rachel Grinney and Nikki Yazdanian. It carries a curated inventory of fashions from domestic and international labels.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Weight Watchers closes in Bethesda

Weight Watchers,
or "WW," as it has been known recently, has closed at 4611 Sangamore Road at The Shops at Sumner Place in Bethesda. The weight management studio had been temporarily closed during the pandemic. Now the space has been cleared out and signage removed.

Construction to begin soon on 4915 Auburn Avenue in Bethesda

The redevelopment of the Auburn Building at 4915 Auburn Avenue in downtown Bethesda has been in the works since 2018. I'm told the project is finally about to move forward after having stalled out since 2019. The existing office building will be replaced with an 11-story mixed-use development, which will include a pass-through pedestrian link between Imagination Stage and Battery Lane Urban Park, and a 3-level underground parking garage.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Thieves steal auto parts in Grosvenor-area residential parking lots

One or more thieves struck in residential parking lots in the Grosvenor area yesterday. Auto parts were stolen from cars parked in lots in the 5100 block of King Charles Way, and the 10300 block of Grosvenor Place, early Sunday, according to crime data. Airbags are often the most-stolen auto part these days. At least one of the vehicles was damaged during the thefts.

Montgomery County Council proposes property tax increase

The Montgomery County Council has proposed a property tax increase for the fiscal year beginning this July, according to an required announcement published in local newspapers. If approved as is, property taxes would rise 4.7% in FY-2022. 

The Council has raised property taxes every year except FY-2015, when the average homeowner received a meager $12 savings, in an election year budget. FY-2017 had the highest tax increase on record; while officially 9%, due to ever-increasing assessments, it was effectively a 10 to 11% tax increase for many Montgomery County homeowners.

A property tax increase amidst the pandemic is raising eyebrows among taxpayers aware of the proposal, and in the business community. The County economy has been moribund for over a decade, according to federal government statistics, with Montgomery at rock bottom in the region by every relevant economic development measure from job creation to business growth.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

2 cars stolen near River Road in Bethesda

Items taken from 2 others

Two cars were reported stolen from homes in the River Road corridor of Bethesda on Friday. Montgomery County police were called after vehicles parked on the street in the 6500 block of Callander Drive in Bannockburn, and the 6500 block of Millwood Road (another numerologist thief?), in Kenwood Park were stolen. 

Items were removed from a vehicle parked in the 6200 block of Dunrobbin Drive in Fairway Hills. Property was also stolen from a vehicle on nearby Goldsboro Road, and the thief later attempted to use credit cards that were taken in that theft. Lock those car doors, and don't leave any valuables that are visible inside the car.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Lights, pedestrian controls installed at new downtown Bethesda crosswalk (Photos)


Pedestrian-activated lights and control boxes were installed at the new crosswalk at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Chase Avenue in downtown Bethesda yesterday. What's in place so far are dash-shaped yellow flashing lights below the yellow crossing signs. So far, there are no overhead traffic signals to turn red. The new lights and controls have not yet been activated for use.