Friday, July 31, 2015

Armed robbery on Western Ave., assault on Crown St. + much more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 28, according to crime data:

Assault. 3800 block Shepherd Street at 12:27 AM (Chevy Chase).

Assault. 9000 block Rockville Pike at 1:39 AM (Walter Reed vicinity).

Theft. 7800 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft from vehicle. 4900 block Elm Street.

Vehicle burglary. 7500 block Lynn Drive (Chevy Chase).

Theft from vehicle. 5100 block Bradley Boulevard.

Vehicle burglary. 7400 block Ridgewood Avenue (Chevy Chase).

Vehicle burglary. 7200 block Ridgewood Avenue (Chevy Chase).

Vehicle burglary. Maple Avenue at Stanford Street (Chevy Chase).

Disorderly conduct. N. Wood Road at Rockville Pike (Walter Reed vicinity).

Armed robbery. Western Avenue at Quesada Avenue N.W. (DC line).

Assault. 5300 block Crown Street at 10:15 AM (off Westbard Avenue).

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Christy Drive (Springfield).

Vehicle burglary. 5800 block Ipswich Road (Alta Vista Gardens).

Burglary. 9200 block Levelle Drive (Parkcrest).

Vehicle burglary. 5000 block Aurora Drive (Garrett Park Estates).

Vehicle burglary. 5800 block Inman Park Circle (Gables of Tuckerman condos).

Westbard Sector Plan public hearing set for September 24, 2015

The public, 18 months into the process, will finally get its first chance to actually address the Montgomery County Planning Board regarding the draft Westbard Sector Plan. The board will hold a public hearing on the draft on Thursday, September 24, 2015, from 6:30-9:30 PM. 

You will have a whopping 3 minutes to testify. Interestingly, the hearing will be at the Silver Spring planning headquarters, in contrast to the remote location hearings of the Bethesda Downtown Plan recently.

So far, the Westbard plan has been panned by residents, who object to the urban character, height and density proposed.

The plan also offers no substantive public amenities or facilities beyond the daylighting of Willett Branch stream, of which there is no guarantee it will ever actually happen. Moreover, the concepts for the daylighting are using river images, while the stream itself is currently a stormwater channel.

But those aren't the only deceptive aspects of the plan. Read my in-depth analysis first to understand how the 75' maximum heights aren't actually maximums, when you factor in the density bonuses developers will receive. The plan proposes to drop thousands of new people and cars into a two-block area, but suggests not a single proposal to increase vehicle capacity on either of the main commuting corridors in the plan area, River Road and Massachusetts Avenue.

On the positive side, the historical background in the plan has been well-developed, and some excellent recommendations for bike facilities and connectivity have been made.

As of press time, there was no mechanism to actually sign up for the public hearing on the planning website.

18/8 Fine Men's Salon opening in Bethesda (Photos)

"Men shouldn't be going to a women's salon," was the thought that drove entrepreneur Scott Griffiths to launch his own salon chain targeting a male audience. The result is 18/8 Fine Men's Salon, which is coming to 7550 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

"There are two things a man should never do," 18/8's website opines: 

"Go through a woman’s purse.
Go to her hair salon."

Enter 18/8, named for the process by which stainless steel is created. 18/8 will offer stylish haircuts; face, scalp and nail treatments; shaves; waxing; hair coloring; and grooming party packages.

"You're the man," is the mantra the business says will sum up your feeling as you exit 18/8 after your appointment. 18/8 will join Roosters at Bethesda Row in the growing category of upscale men's salons in downtown Bethesda.

Sign installed at Paisano's Pizza in Bethesda (Photos)

The sign is up on the storefront of the future Paisano's Pizza in downtown Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle. You may recall I broke the story in May that Paisano's is taking over the former Naked Pizza space at 4914 Del Ray Avenue.

The front windows were still wrapped Thursday, as work continues inside. Paisano's already has two Montgomery County locations in Rockville and Gaithersburg.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Car stolen on Chevy Chase Blvd., burglary on MacArthur Blvd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 27, according to crime data:

Stolen car. 4700 block Chevy Chase Boulevard at 10:18 PM.

Drug arrest. Connecticut Avenue at Manor Road (Chevy Chase Lake).

Vehicle burglary. 4800 block Broad Brook Drive (Locust Hill Estates).

Burglary. 7100 block MacArthur Boulevard at 3:34 PM.

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Stolen car. 11800 block Old Georgetown Road at 9:42 AM (Pike District).

Nighttime noise driving Bethesda condo residents crazy (Photos)

Residents of the Crescent Plaza condominiums in downtown Bethesda have been between the hammer and the anvil over the last week. Not only is the Solaire Bethesda being constructed adjacent to their building on Wisconsin Avenue, but now nighttime road work has begun without any warning at the intersection of Wisconsin and Leland Street.

I had noticed this Sunday night, when the crew pictured above was working in the northbound lanes of Wisconsin at Leland. I've since heard from residents in Crescent Plaza that they were never notified of this nighttime work, which has run some nights between 10:00 PM to after 4:00 AM.

That led me to get in touch with Steve Martin, who handles noise issues for the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. Martin confirmed that the mystery road crew had not filed for a nighttime noise waiver with the county. In fact, it was unclear just who these folks were.

Further investigation by Martin determined that the contractors are doing unspecified work for Pepco. He also provided a work schedule for the project, which is expected to be completed next week.
Pepco crew working
late last night on
Wisconsin Avenue
Pepco's crew was back again last night, this time in a new spot on Wisconsin directly in front of the Solaire Bethesda site (formerly Eastham's Exxon for those following from out-of-state). They were supposed to do some drilling and rebar work, which undoubtedly thrilled Crescent Plaza residents. They'll be back tonight to pour concrete, weather permitting. Then they'll take Friday and Saturday nights off - but return Sunday night. Finally, they will patch the road (which has been resurfaced twice at taxpayer expense in the last year) next week.

The problem for residents in this case, is that our DEP doesn't have authority over the Maryland State Highway Administration, according to Martin - although he said he is working to improve communication between the agencies regarding nighttime work. He also hopes to confirm Pepco's possession of an SHA Lane Closure Permit by today.

"While we don’t have the authority to stop this nighttime work," Martin said, "prior notification to nearby residences goes a long way towards minimizing complaints."

Art of Athletics coming to Bethesda (Photos)

Art of Athletics will take over the space vacated by Gallery St. Elmo when it moved to Cordell Avenue this past February. The business was started by massage therapist Zoe Arp in Frederick in 2008, but she has been seeking a space in Bethesda to accommodate clients from this area.

Art of Athletics will offer fascial stretch therapy, physical therapy, sports massage, and tailored stretching, strengthening and nutrition programs. There is a website address, but it was not activated as of press time.

Art of Athletics
4938 St. Elmo Avenue

JBG gets started on new Bethesda Ave. retail building (Photos)

A new retail building that will replace the former Thyme Square structure at 4735 Bethesda Avenue is finally moving forward. The JBG Companies has filed a sheeting and shoring permit request with Montgomery County, which describes a 10,000 SF commercial building. Apparently, there will be some excavation involved - although the Thyme Square building will presumably be demolished first.
The building in question is the
small structure at left, with
the "Market" signage; the
center building is what will
replace the existing office building
next door
You may recall seeing early renderings of this long, narrow structure in my report from the public meeting JBG held prior to submitting its plans to the county. This is one part of a complex redevelopment of JBG properties that line the north side of Bethesda Avenue between Woodmont and Wisconsin Avenues. 7200 Wisconsin Avenue (Artery Plaza) is getting a Fish Taco restaurant, facade and lobby renovations, and is angling for a second restaurant tenant. And an office building between these properties at 4733 Bethesda Avenue will be demolished and replaced with a new, mixed-use office building.
The retail building appears as
a ghostly structure in this
rendering, again with
the "Market" sign
(future tenant unknown)
The end result - along with the new PassionFish restaurant in The Darcy across the street - will be a revitalization of this somewhat dead block of Bethesda Avenue (particularly at night). There will essentially be a strip of JBG retail and restaurant space from the plaza on Woodmont all the way up to Wisconsin, then wrapping around the front of Artery Plaza on Wisconsin.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bethesda construction update: 7770 Norfolk luxury condos (Photos)

The lights are on, but nobody's home at the 7770 Norfolk luxury condos on Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle neighborhood. That's because they're still constructing the interiors of the condos. But what appear to be the first completed units are now being lit at night.

Interior details, including lighting fixtures and cabinetry, have now been installed in those units. One or more of these may be the eventual model units for the project (the temporary sales office is in the old Johnny Rockets space at the corner of Norfolk and St. Elmo Avenue).

7770 is being developed by the JBG Companies, and was switched from luxury apartments to luxury condos a few months ago.

Robbery in Pooks Hill, assault on East-West Hwy. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 26, according to crime data:

Assault. 4500 block East-West Highway at 9:12 PM.

Vehicle burglary. 7500 block Meadow Lane (Chevy Chase).

Theft from vehicle. 7700 block Oldchester Road (English Village).

Theft. Bloomingdale's (Friendship Heights).

Robbery. 5200 block Pooks Hill Road at 2:03 AM.

Drug arrest. 5200 block Tuckerman Lane.

Stolen car. 5400 block Marinelli Road (Pike District).

Death. 5000 block Westport Road at 6:31 AM (Orchardale).

Death. 5500 block Tuckerman Lane at 6:39 AM.

Weapons offense. 12200 block Wilkins Avenue.

Signage goes up at site of Stonehall Bethesda luxury condos (Photos)

Heavy equipment cleared the future site of the Stonehall Bethesda luxury condos of debris on Tuesday, following demolition of the existing structure. Signage promoting the 46-unit building was installed around the premises, with imagery from the website that is now live.

Stonehall will offer 2-bedroom condos from the $800,000s, 3-bedrooms from $1.7 million, and penthouses starting at $2.3 million.

Amenities will include the ubiquitous rooftop deck, upscale restaurant on-site, and a Harris Teeter grocery store directly across Woodmont Avenue. Stonehall is one of several new luxury buildings offering housing within a very short walking distance of NIH and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

As a condo, it is in particular competition with The Lauren, Hampden Row, and The Darcy, in terms of projects that are built or underway (JBG's 7770 Norfolk is marketing its condos at a lower pricing tier). Duball, LLC is the developer of Stonehall.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Robbery in Pike District, assault in downtown Bethesda + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 25, according to crime data:

Disorderly conduct. 7700 block Woodmont Avenue.

Theft. 7600 block Old Georgetown Road.

Assault. Old Georgetown Road at Cordell Avenue.

Theft. Wisconsin Avenue at Western Avenue.

Drug arrest. River Road at Goldsboro Road.

Theft. 6100 block Cromwell Drive (Springfield).

Burglary. 5700 block Chapman Mill Drive.

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Robbery. 5400 block McGrath Boulevard (Pike District).

Flashing signal activated at dangerous Bradley Blvd. crosswalk in Bethesda (Video + photos)

The long-delayed activation of the crossing signals on Bradley Boulevard, between Hillandale Road and Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, has finally happened. A spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration pointed to Pepco as the party responsible for the delay.

They still are allowing parking too close to the crosswalk, which blocks drivers' views of pedestrians trying to cross until they have emerged into traffic.

New renderings of Fish Taco at Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda (Photos)

The first images of what the future Fish Taco opening late this year at Wildwood Shopping Center will look like are now available. A series of renderings of the project have been posted by the architecture firm of Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc., which is designing the build-out. This is one of two Bethesda locations SJKAIA, Inc. is in charge of designing, with the second being at 7200 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

From the designs, it appears there will be a large, communal table in the dining area, as well as more natural light from the front facade. That facade features a more open design than the other spaces around it in the shopping center.

All images courtesy of Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc.
All rights reserved
Renderings by A. Gorodetsky/SJKAIA, Inc.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Assault on Woodmont Ave., burglary on Old Georgetown Rd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 24, according to crime data:

Assault. 7200 block Woodmont Avenue at 3:31 PM.

Burglary. 7600 block Old Georgetown Road.

Vehicle burglary. 4900 block Del Ray Avenue.

Theft from vehicle. 6900 block Arlington Road at 5:54 PM.

Theft from vehicle. 7000 block Arlington Road at 11:30 PM.

Theft. 4700 block Chevy Chase Drive.

Theft. 8100 block Kerry Lane (Chevy Chase Section 10).

Drug arrest. Beach Drive at Connecticut Avenue.

Theft. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 9900 block Derbyshire Lane (Stratton Commons).

Theft. 11300 block Woodglen Drive (Pike District).

Assault. 5600 block Nicholson Lane (Pike District).

Theft. Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Death. 4800 block Dorset Avenue at 1:04 PM (Somerset).

Death. East-West Highway and Edgevale Street at 9:30 PM.

Disorderly conduct. Fairmont Avenue at Woodmont Avenue at 2:28 AM.

Drug offense. 12500 block Village Square Terrace at 11:57 PM (Pike District).

Drug offense. 12000 block Rockville Pike at 9:48 AM (Pike District).

Sneak peek at new Bethesda Metro escalator (Photos)

The new escalator at the Bethesda Metro station is gleaming, and has more modern LED lighting than the one it is replacing. One of 3 surface-to-mezzanine escalators in the station that rank as the second-longest in the Western Hemisphere, it is the first of the 3 to be installed. 

The complete replacement of all 3 is scheduled to conclude in September 2016. KONE is the contractor for the project.

Riders' biggest concern - will they actually work on a daily basis?