Sunday, January 20, 2019

Bethesda under wind advisory

High winds with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour are expected today, beginning late this morning, and continuing until around 7:00 PM tonight. Winds will be from the northwest, and average 20 to 25 MPH during that time. The winds may blow down limbs, trees and power lines. We will be under a Wind Advisory until 7:00 PM, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures will peak around 42 degrees at 10:00 AM this morning, then begin to drop as the high winds pick up to 18 MPH around 11:00 AM, to below freezing by late afternoon. We'll hit a low of 12 degrees by sunrise Monday morning, starting the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday with a dangerously-cold -11 degrees wind chill.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Winter Storm Harper to hit Bethesda today

Montgomery County is under a winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service. Winter Storm Harper is expected to arrive by mid-afternoon, beginning with showers that will convert to heavy rain by nightfall, continuing overnight through Sunday morning.

A flash freeze is predicted to occur between 1:00 and 3:00 PM Sunday afternoon, creating treacherous conditions on roads. Gusty winds will build up starting Sunday morning, peaking around 22 MPH by midday, with gusts up to 28 MPH possible. By Sunday night, temperatures will be around 12 degrees, but wind chills will make it feel like an even more brutal -11 degrees.

The projected temperatures during the precipitation make any significant accumulation of snow unlikely over the next 48 hours. Wet roads and sidewalks freezing on Sunday, as well as possible flooding tonight, will be the primary dangers of Winter Storm Harper.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Joe & the Juice opening Wildwood Shopping Center location

Joe & the Juice, the popular juice and coffee shop that already has a Bethesda Row location, will expand to the Wildwood Shopping Center this year. They will be located in a 1900 SF space between Sanctuary Interior Design and Irresistibles. The new store will open this summer, property owner Federal Realty announced yesterday.

“Since we opened our first store in Bethesda two years ago, our regular customers have asked us to come to Wildwood Shopping Center - and now we finally heard their call," Joe & the Juice's Valdemar Halbye said Thursday. "We can’t wait to open up a flagship location with our new expanded menu that includes omelettes and other breakfast items in addition to freshly made juice, coffee and sandwiches," he added.

The Wildwood Shopping Center, as I previously reported, will also add Bethesda Bagels and Flower Child this year. An addition was added, which will offer a new common area with lounge chairs for warmer weather, and 42 new parking spaces. “The combination of new tenants and our recent upgrades further creates a place where our cherished community is encouraged to gather, shop and dine," Federal Realty's Director of Asset Management Kari Glinski said yesterday.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Redwood demolition update (Photos)

Demolition is going forward full steam inside the former anchor restaurant space of Redwood on Bethesda Lane. Left behind is an apocalyptic interior moonscape. As I previously reported, Federal Realty plans to divide the large space into several smaller storefronts to be leased separately.

Redwood was one of several victims of the corrupt Montgomery County Council's failure to require developers to provide a replacement theater after the nearby Regal Cinemas closed in December 2016. A study showed a mainstream cineplex brings an average of 20,000 extra visitors to an area per weekend, 20,000 people who have now relocated their weekend adventures to other destinations besides downtown Bethesda.

La Panetteria space for lease

The restaurant space currently occupied by La Panetteria at 4921 Cordell Avenue is now available for lease, according to an online listing. A longtime Italian restaurant in downtown Bethesda, La Panetteria is still in operation. The listing claims the space will be available in 90 days.

An offer of a space for lease does not necessarily mean a tenant is going out of business or planning to close. Landlords will sometimes put a space on the market to see if they can get a tenant who can or will pay a higher rent, for example. This has actually happened several times downtown in recent years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bethesda construction update: 7900 Wisconsin Avenue (Photos)

JBG Smith's 7900 Wisconsin Avenue project is now about six stories above street level. There's a long way to go still before this mixed-use project tops out, but the general form is starting to take clearer shape from the Woodmont Avenue perspective.

The project is supposed to be anchored by a Trader Joe's grocery store; just over 12000 SF has been set aside for a grocery store tenant. There will be 20035 SF of restaurant and retail space in total on the ground floor, with 475 rental apartments above in the 17-story, cantilevered building. A pass-through will provide pedestrian access between Woodmont and Wisconsin Avenues, as well as to the ground floor businesses. The mirrored ceiling of the pass-through, and unique plaza design and landscaping, make this one of the most-eagerly-awaited public spaces in downtown Bethesda.

Mini Mart begins selling beer and wine in Bethesda (Photos)

Beer and wine are now available at Mini Mart, a convenience store located at 8006 Norfolk Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The store recently got a new owner and new name, and now has a new liquor license from Montgomery County. Along with a selection of wine bottles, customers will find standard favorites like Budweiser, Miller Lite, Corona and Goose Island IPA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Woodmont Grill feels effect of Marriott construction again

For the second time in as many months, work related to the Marriott International headquarters relocation in downtown Bethesda has impacted the restaurant next door, Woodmont Grill. This time, utility work for the HQ project being performed by Pepco damaged sidewalk pavers in front of the restaurant. The Marriott development partners say that the damage should be repaired by the end of this week. Last month, Marriott excavation work ruptured a water line leading to Woodmont Grill, which is the highest volume restaurant in downtown Bethesda.

Meanwhile, on good weather days (fortunately, I was able to get these photos just before the storm hit), there can be more than 200 dump truck trips to and from the Marriott site per day. Blasting and overnight work are both scheduled to commence on or after February 1, 2019.

Bethesda snow update + more storms later this week

Montgomery County will attempt to get back to business today, after crews spent Monday finally plowing residential streets. The County government will be open. Montgomery County Public Schools will open two hours late.

All County recreation and aquatic centers will open on-time this morning, except senior centers, which will open at 10:00 AM. However, if your aquatic lesson is before 9:30 AM, it is cancelled for today. In fact, any program, class or activity that was scheduled before 10:00 AM this morning is also cancelled for today, as are senior nutrition and transportation programs.

Recreation programs for children five and under (tiny tots) that begin before noon are cancelled.

Metrobus, Metrorail, MARC trains and Ride On buses are all operating on normal weekday schedules today.


Rockville's Mayor and Council meeting that was postponed last night has been rescheduled for tonight, January 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave. Tonight's meeting agenda still includes:

A vote on a resolution to extend the moratorium on the filing, acceptance and receipt of applications for special exceptions, plans and plan amendments for certain uses in the mixed-use employment (MXE) zone, until July 1.

A report from the Adequate Public Facilities Standards (APFS) Work Group on Schools, regarding options to address a potential residential moratorium.

A presentation and discussion of the Planning Commission’s draft of the North Stonestreet Avenue Comprehensive Master Plan amendment.

A public hearing on the plan for the Shady Grove Neighborhood Center, a proposed mixed-use center with commercial, office and residential uses at 15825 Shady Grove Road, 2 and 4 Choke Cherry Road, and 2092-2098 Gaither Road.

A consent agenda that includes authorization for the city manager to execute a contract to purchase 6 Taft Court.

Takoma Park

The City of Takoma Park's offices will open at 10:30 AM this morning.

Montgomery Village

The Montgomery Village Foundation office will be open today. All Village recreation classes scheduled before noon are cancelled, except Seniors in Action, still meeting at 10:00 AM this morning.

Suburban News Network

Two other potential snowstorms are approaching the area later this week. Snow showers are possible Thursday afternoon, and a second storm could hit Sunday, a day that will have a low temperature of 10 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Open mic night coming to Norfolk Avenue Starbucks

The hidden talents of Bethesda residents may be revealed later this month at the Starbucks at 7700 Norfolk Avenue. An open mic night is being launched, and will be held on the third Friday each month from 6:00-8:00 PM. Considering that this is one of many businesses forced to cut back evening hours after the Montgomery County Council's "nighttime economy" initiative ended up tanking nightlife in downtown Bethesda, anything that gets them to stay open to 8:00 is a positive, right?

Bethesda snow update

Woodmont Avenue at Norfolk Avenue
near Veterans Park in Bethesda
Montgomery County was hit hard by Winter Storm Gia over the last 48 hours. Snowfall totals ranged from 9.5-10.5" in parts of Bethesda to 11" in White Oak, 11.5" in Rockville and 12" in Germantown and Damascus.

Suburban News Network

A Snow Emergency is in effect. The federal government is closed.
Conditions are poor on Massachusetts Avenue
at Cromwell Drive in Bethesda, a state road
Montgomery County Public Schools are closed today, as is the Montgomery County government. All County facilities except for police and fire stations are closed, as well.

Metrorail subway lines and MetroAccess are operating on a normal weekday schedule, but Metrobus is on a Severe Snow Plan, meaning service is mostly limited to main thoroughfares. Ride On bus is operating on a normal weekday schedule. MARC train is operating on an R schedule. Northbound I-270 just south of Montrose Road is in bad shape, with multiple collisions reported in that area this morning, including one involving a police cruiser.
Route 355 at Mannakee Street
in Rockville
Rockville city government and city facilities are closed today, and tonight's Mayor and Council meeting has been cancelled. City trash collection won't take place today, and will be delayed one day for all customers the rest of this week.
Route 29 at Randolph Road
in East County
Takoma Park's city government announced last night it would be closed today if the federal government closed, as it has. City-operated child care is also closed today. City Manager Suzanne Ludlow claims that trash will be collected on-time today, and for the rest of the week. Takoma Park does have its own snow removal service, so perhaps they will be able to clear streets enough to do this.
Georgia Avenue at
Aspen Hill Road