Sunday, July 31, 2016

Vehicle burglary on Wisconsin Ave., theft on Rockledge Dr. + more - Bethesda crime update

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

Theft from vehicle. 4900 block Elm Street.

Vehicle burglary. 7100 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 5200 block Baltimore Avenue.

Theft from vehicle. Georgetown Square.

Theft. 6700 block Rockledge Drive.

Oriental Living moves in downtown Bethesda

Oriental Living, an interior decorating firm specializing in Japanese Shoji Screens, has moved a few blocks up Wisconsin Avenue from its old location. The business, which manufactures its screens in-house and professionally installs them, is now at 8311 Wisconsin Avenue, in Suite A-3. Heading north, make a right turn at Chestnut Street. Their phone number is 301-656-9333.

Shoji screens are exactly what you might expect if you watch movies or TV shows set in Japan - Japanese-style screens, room dividers, doors and more. Check out the designs on their website.

Asbestos removal to begin at Connor Building (Photos)

The tenants have cleared out at the Connor Building at 7720 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. It will be demolished this fall, but much like the doomed office building on Bethesda Avenue, the asbestos has to be removed first. Removal is scheduled to begin on Monday.
Let's take one more walk through the arcade, and what's left of the empty Kabob Bazaar. The building's site will become home to a Westin hotel.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Car stolen in downtown Bethesda, drug bust on Democracy Blvd. + more - Crime update

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

Stolen car. 7600 block Old Georgetown Road.

Theft. 4800 block Cordell Avenue.

Theft. 5400 block Westbard Avenue.

Theft. 5400 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 6100 block Shady Oak Lane.

Theft. 10400 block Old Georgetown Road.

Drug arrest. Democracy Boulevard at Rockledge Drive.

Theft from vehicle. 12000 block Rockville Pike.

Peter's Carryout takes summer break

Peter's Carryout (or is it Peter's Carry Out or Peter's Carry-Out? It's stylized many different ways on the front and on the website) is taking its annual summer break. The restaurant, which is a Bethesda institution for 3 meals a day and "Bethesda's best steak and cheese" sub, will reopen on Monday, August 8, 2016. Peter's is one of several small businesses that take an annual summer break in downtown Bethesda.

Signs posted banning parking on Wisconsin Avenue next week in Bethesda

Signs appeared up and down Wisconsin Avenue on Friday advising drivers that there will be no parking along that state highway between August 1 and August 5 next week, from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

In another acknowledgement that seizing an automobile land for Bus Rapid Transit would reduce road capacity by 33%, Montgomery County is taking this step to increase road capacity during the WMATA SafeTrack "surge" on the Metro Red Line next week. The added capacity is designed to help additional buses being deployed move faster along this busy commuter route, as well as commuters in their own cars.

As repairs are made to the poorly-maintained subway system, station closures and slow service will inconvenience riders, who are advised to find alternative transportation if possible.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Assault on Old Georgetown Rd., vehicle burglary on Millwood Rd. + more - Bethesda crime update

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

Theft. 6900 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 3900 block Blackthorn Street.

Vehicle burglary. 4000 block Oliver Street (Chevy Chase Village).

Theft from vehicle. 5500 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 6500 block Millwood Road.

Assault. 11800 block Old Georgetown Road at 4:17 AM.

Bethesda construction update: Hyatt Regency hotel (Photos)

The remodeling project at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda hotel continues. They're adding more restaurant and retail space on the ground level. You can see they've punched through the front wall. There are also more renderings posted around the property of what the finished product will look like inside and out.

Paraguay leases space in Chevy Chase

The Embassy of Paraguay has leased space at the Chevy Chase Metro Building at 2 Wisconsin Circle, which towers over an entrance to the Friendship Heights Metro station. A 2,175 SF space is being built-out for the embassy. However, the purpose of the space (needed more office space, off-site consular services?) has not yet been made public.

There was no response to an inquiry with the embassy as of press time.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Robbery in Friendship Heights, burglary in Westmoreland Hills + more - Bethesda crime update

One reader has been noting an increase in residential burglaries in Bethesda. Two more occurred on Monday. Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 25, according to crime data:

Burglary. 4900 block Elm Street (click here for more details).

Theft. 4900 block Auburn Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Surrey Street (Somerset).

Robbery. 5500 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5400 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Burglary. 5200 block Abingdon Road at 5:18 PM (Westmoreland Hills).

Burglary. 7200 block Selkirk Drive at 3:05 AM.

Sign installed at Experimac in Bethesda

The sign is up at the latest retail space to fill at the Bainbridge Bethesda apartment tower. This is on the Fairmont Avenue side of the building. Experimac is an electronics retailer specializing in sales and service of pre-owned Apple computers, tablets and phones.

Harry Potter release party in Bethesda Saturday July 30 for midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter fans should head to Barnes and Noble at Bethesda Row early this Saturday, July 30, to have the best experience for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Why early, when the book won't come out until midnight? First, because they'll start handing out line tickets at noon on Saturday - pick yours up at the customer service desk on the main level.

Second, because the Harry Potter release party starts at 7:30 PM, with a Welcome to Hogwarts opening ceremony. At 8:00 PM, you'll learn how to defend against the Dark Arts with Polyjuice games. A Triwizard Trivia Tournament will be held at 9:00 PM. At 10:00, there'll be a Spelling Showdown, and at 11:00, a history of magic will be taught via a Word Ball game.

Finally, at midnight, it will be time to get your copy of Harry Potter and Cursed Child. Will you be the first Harry Potter fan in Bethesda to get your hands on the long-awaited new book?

Costumes are welcome and encouraged by the store.

4801 Bethesda Avenue

Summer breaks begin at some Bethesda small businesses

Late summer brings annual summer breaks at small businesses around Bethesda. These are usually because a business is run by one person, or a small family or staff, and there is no one to take over while others are on vacation. The first two to start are in the Woodmont Triangle.

Zin Hair & Colour on Woodmont Avenue will be closed from now until August 10, 2016.
Hinata, a Japanese market on St. Elmo Avenue also known for its fresh sushi, will close on August 8, 2016, and will reopen on August 23.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Westwood Wednesdays tonight at Westwood Shopping Center in Bethesda

Equity One's Westwood Wednesdays events get slightly more ambitious by the week. Tonight at the Westwood Shopping Center between 5:00-8:00 PM, enjoy live music by Darcy Dawn & Company and dinner from food trucks Just Gnocchi and Kona Ice.

My Gym from Westwood Center II will be on hand to help kids with tumbling exercises and interactive games. Another local business, 28 Spokes, will have a bicycle obstacle course (including teeter totter, swerving and rumble strips) set up. Wildtree Foods will allow kids to make their own dip, and will also have popcorn.

The event will take place in the parking lot near Rite Aid.

Westwood Shopping Center
5400 Westbard Avenue

More psychobabble, no specifics on MCPS achievement gap

The sound you hear is $90,000,000 in taxpayer money going down the toilet. That's the $90 million the Montgomery County Council extracted out of you to give above the required funding for Montgomery County Public Schools in their wallet-busting, record tax increase FY-2017 budget two months ago. Where is it going? If you don't have blood pressure medication handy, you may want to stop reading now.

Incoming MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith announced his strategy last night to address the achievement gap between white students and black and Latino students. That gap has increased since 2010, despite record amounts of your money being supplied to MCPS by the Council.

So, we had the 9% property tax hike, and taxes are now at the highest total level in Montgomery County history. What is MCPS going to do with it on the achievement gap? What's the innovative new strategy? We know what we're doing now doesn't work. After several months to strategize, here's what MCPS has outlined for spending your $90 million:

According to the Washington Post, Smith "stopped short of providing a detailed plan for the coming year, and school officials said more specifics would come soon."

Wait a minute, what?! 

Here comes the barrage of Orwellian buzzwords and phrases:


"build up cultural competency among educators"

"operational excellence"

"learning accountability"
(quite a statement from a system that just jettisoned final exams, and dumbed down its grading system to inflate final grades - which college admissions offices will catch onto soon enough, tarnishing our once great reputation across the country)

"Smith did not say precisely how success would be measured." 

God help us.

Your tax dollars "at work."

#MoCoTermLimits #ThrowTheBumsOut

NRG's Owen's Ordinary beer garden aims for late summer/early fall opening at Pike & Rose

I have some more details on the long-awaited beer garden and restaurant from Neighborhood Restaurant Group at Pike & Rose called Owen's Ordinary. This is NRG Beer Director Greg Engert's first project in Maryland, and he is promising a well-curated selection of 50 beers on tap.
Yellow construction wall
is the future location of
Owen's Ordinary in
Muse Alley
The way the beer garden and restaurant elements intersect will be via a two-sided soapstone bar built into the restaurant's facade. It will serve both the 60-seat beer garden outside in Muse Alley, and the 175-seat interior restaurant.

Interior details will include subway tile, zinc cladding, wood floors and "industrial steampunk elements," as well as an open kitchen.

Owen's Ordinary refers to the historic tavern that was located in the vicinity of Courthouse Square in the center of Rockville in 1755, according to Rockville historian Eileen McGuckian.

The new Owen's Ordinary should give Muse Alley a one-two punch of dining destinations along with next door neighbor Carluccio's. Its street address will be 11820 Trade Street, and is right next to the new Pike & Rose garage. Owen's Ordinary will also be adjacent to Muse Alley's most notable feature, an outdoor fireplace. An NRG spokesperson says it is expected to open in late summer, or early fall.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sign installed at TapaBar in Bethesda (Photos)

The sign for TapaBar was installed last week at 4901-A Fairmont Avenue. TapaBar is a new concept from the owners of the neighboring Bold Bite.

Furniture and lighting fixtures are already in place as the long-awaited opening approaches. If you've already witnessed what the owners were able to create with hot dogs, burgers and salads, expect innovative Spanish tapas and a full bar with "never-before-seen concoctions."

Demolition permit requested for Steamers site in Bethesda

Future condo building
(center) at 4820 Auburn Avenue;
Gallery Bethesda apartment tower
is at left
Developer Novo has requested a demolition permit from Montgomery County to raze the former Steamers building at 4820 Auburn Avenue. The permit requested would also apply to 4816 and 4828 Auburn Avenue, according to the application.

Novo has proposed a 110' condominium building with 58 condo units and 2800 SF of retail/restaurant space for the property.

SunTrust reacquires 7500 Wisconsin property in Bethesda

SunTrust Banks, Inc. has bought back its former property at 7500 Wisconsin Avenue, at the main crossroads of downtown Bethesda. While the site has continued to host an operating bank branch, the corporation sold the property for $5.5 million in January 2008. SunTrust is taking a loss on the deal in the short term, as it had to pay $9.3 million to reacquire it a few weeks ago.
The property is within the upper left corner
of the lower red area indicated on this
map of heights near the Bethesda Metro

(via Montgomery County Planning Department)
The long-term investment picture is considerably brighter for the Atlanta-based corporation. 7500 Wisconsin falls within the area targeted for 200-290' tall buildings under the Bethesda Downtown sector plan likely to be approved by the Montgomery County Council.
Flatiron Building in
New York City
(via Google Maps)
7500 Wisconsin and adjacent
properties sit on a similar
triangular-shaped plot of
land at an urban crossroads
While the building is an iconic one in downtown Bethesda, it could be part of a highly-lucrative assembly and redevelopment in the future. I'm thinking something like the landmark Flatiron Building in New York. If redevelopment isn't in mind, why else would they blow $9 million on this?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Robbery on St. Elmo Ave., burglary on Wilson Lane + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on July 22, according to crime data:

Drug arrest. 4900 block St. Elmo Avenue.

Robbery. 4800 block St. Elmo Avenue.

Burglary. 5000 block Wilson Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 7900 block Glenbrook Road.

Liquor arrest. 7-Eleven (Glen Echo).

Liquor arrest. W. Halbert Road at Owen Place (Bannockburn).

Drug arrest. Old Georgetown Road at Executive Boulevard.

Crane up at Cheval Bethesda construction site (Photos)

Fairmont Avenue completely closed yesterday between Old Georgetown Road and Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda, to allow workers to finish assembly of the tower crane at the Cheval Bethesda condominium construction site.