Friday, September 30, 2016

Burglary at The Jewelry Exchange, vehicle broken into on Rayburn Rd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Around 2:25 AM Tuesday morning, a bold team of burglars crashed a stolen car into the showroom of the Jewelry Exchange on Old Georgetown Road. Grabbing whatever they could quickly, they fled in a second getaway car. Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 27, according to crime data:

Burglary. The Jewelry Exchange.

Vehicle burglary. 4800 block Hampden Lane.

Theft from vehicle. 4400 block East-West Highway.

DUI arrest. 6000 block Connecticut Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 8500 block Rayburn Road.

Theft. 6100 block Stardust Lane.

Theft. 7800 block Scotland Drive.

Theft from vehicle. 11700 block Old Georgetown Road.

Humiliation: No MCPS school makes 2016 National Blue Ribbon School list

Just months after the Montgomery County Council hiked property and recordation taxes to record highs, and falsely claimed it was to benefit schools (but without any major change in education strategy, meaning we're going to keep going the way we've been going - a.k.a. the definition of insanity), there is more alarming evidence that your tax pain is in vain. The U.S. Department of Education has just released its list of 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools - and not a single Montgomery County Public School is on the list.


We've been told by the Montgomery County political cartel that, while we don't enjoy the booming private sector economic growth of states like Texas, we should still feel superior because we "invest in our schools." Fact check: Montgomery County suffered a humiliating shut-out on the list, while red states like Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana cleaned our clock, with multiple public schools making the cut. In fact, 26 Texas schools in all made the 2016 list. Even a red county in Maryland like Anne Arundel has public school representation on the new list.

It turns out that the excess money spent on MCPS without a plan has been money down the toilet. Ironically, you can be almost certain that grades will rise in MCPS schools in the future - but only because the school system recently adopted an easier grading system for that very reason. Elected officials impotent to solve MoCo's education decline? No problem! Just get rid of final exams and inflate everybody's grades. God help us.


P.S. Congratulations to Montgomery County's St. Patrick's parochial school, which made the 2016 list as a non-public school.

Cheval Bethesda sales launch event suggests demand for downtown condos is up (Photos)

How hot is the condo market in downtown Bethesda right now? That's been a recurring question since the Great Recession. If the turnout at last night's sales launch for the Cheval Bethesda condos is any indication, the market is heating up.

An estimated 400 people passed through the two-hour event for the new Duball, LLC-developed project, held at Black's Bar and Kitchen. Given the miserable weather outside, it was a night for the serious condo shopper - or the seriously curious - only. So that was an impressive turnout under the circumstances (there are only 72 units available in the building).

Guests previewed floorplans, and even got a sneak peek at a 360 degree view from the 17th-floor penthouse of the Cheval, thanks to a VR headset. They also enjoyed an open bar and a selection of appetizers from the popular Woodmont Avenue restaurant.

Attendees had the first bid on the future condo units, which range from the $700s to over $3 million. Because the project has been designed as a condo from the beginning, the units tend to be more spacious.

The architect was in attendance, as well as many representatives of Duball and McWilliams Ballard, which is handling sales. Above-street parking floors will lift the lower units enough to avoid them having views of the public parking garage wall next door out of their nearly floor-to-ceiling windows.

Ultra-luxury touches will include optional heated floors, Thermadors, Shaker-style walnut cabinets by J. Suss, and private terraces.

The floorplans and 360 VR views unveiled last night are now available on the updated Cheval Bethesda website. A sales gallery is located at 7706 Woodmont Avenue. The Cheval is now under construction at 4960 Fairmont Avenue, on the corner at Old Georgetown Road.

A prospective buyer
uses VR headset that
gave attendees a
preview of what the
view would be from
a Cheval penthouse

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Car stolen from Worthington Dr., burglary on Newport Ave. + more - Bethesda crime update

It appears one or more thieves worked the Massachusetts Avenue corridor of Bethesda on Monday. The result was one car stolen, two others broken into, and a theft and burglary.

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

Vehicle burglary. 4700 block Hampden Lane.

Theft. 4700 block Cordell Avenue.

Theft. Bethesda Row Giant.

Burglary. 5100 block Newport Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Brookview Drive.

Theft. 5300 block Massachusetts Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Worthington Drive.

Stolen car. 5100 block Worthington Drive.

Theft from vehicle. 8500 block River Road.

Sleepy's becomes Mattress Firm in Bethesda (Photos)

The Sleepy's name at 6950 Wisconsin Avenue has fallen victim to the almost-overnight mattress market takeover by Mattress Firm. An even-more classic name in bedding, Mattress Discounters, is going the way of Syms, Luskin's and Levitz. While these developments have been unfolding over the last couple of weeks, the process that brought them here has been in the works for many years.
Sleepy's bought the venerable Mattress Discounters for $11.9 million in 2012. Mattress Firm, in turn, acquired Sleepy's in November 2015 for $780 million. This gave Mattress Firm control of both brands.
Given that none of these stores are exactly targeting the ultra-rich, dropping a well-known brand like Mattress Discounters sounds like marketing suicide. Mattress Firm? Never heard of it. I guess we'll find out in a few years if it made sense. Oh, well, at least Belmont and Bill's Carpet are still around.

Bonobos renovates at Bethesda Row (Photos)

Bonobos is scheduled to reopen today after closing Wednesday for renovations. The store has been open for just over three years at 4835 Bethesda Avenue.

Bonobos made an even earlier landing at Bethesda Row, with a pop-up shop on Bethesda Lane during the 2012 holiday season. They have a second Bethesda store at Westfield Montgomery Mall, which opened last year.

Cosi closes at Bethesda Row (Photos)

Cosi has closed at Bethesda Row. And what a way to go. The restaurant was most recently in the news for being the place where a woman's wallet was swiped. But Cosi the chain has been in the bad-news pages of business sections this week, as well.

The day this Woodmont Avenue location closed, the Cosi company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in  federal court, after being unable to resolve a dispute over a collateral agreement with creditors. Twenty-eight other Cosi locations also closed nationwide this week.
If Cosi was your regular sandwich spot, I would recommend the BLT+A sandwich at the new Modern Market around the corner on Elm Street, or Panera Bread a block away on Wisconsin.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Weapon arrest on Norfolk Ave., car stolen from driveway on Leland St. + more - Bethesda crime update

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

Weapon arrest, assault with deadly weapon. 7700 block Norfolk Avenue (around 10 PM).

Burglary. 4800 block Hampden Lane.

Theft from vehicle. Arlington Road at Elm Street.

Stolen car. 4400 block Leland Street (stolen from driveway of a residence).

Vehicle burglary. 4300 block Thornapple Street.

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Burglary. 10400 block Rockville Pike.

Theft. 11500 block Rockville Pike.

Bethesda construction update: 2nd District police station (Photos)

After a slow start, the construction of the future Montgomery County 2nd District police station at 4823 Rugby Avenue is picking up steam. One part of the structure is already four stories above street level.

Cognac Le Bar opens at La Ferme in Chevy Chase today (Photos)

Be one of the first to experience Cognac Le Bar at French favorite La Ferme in Chevy Chase, opening today at 4:30 PM. The new addition will feature small plates, handcrafted cocktails and a wide selection of imported Cognacs.

Choices include house-smoked salmon crostini; crispy pita wedges with cucumber salad, French Moroccan Merguez sausage, tzatziki yogurt and pickled onions; and a broiled Tartine Classique, with Mornay sauce, ham and Emmental cheese.

Cognac cocktails include The French 75, which takes its name from the French 75-millimeter howitzer cannon, and features Cognac, Champagne and lemon juice. Cognac, raspberry liqueur, and Champagne are combined in the Pink Love. Or try a Parisian Negroni with VS Cognac, sweet vermouth, and Campari.

Le Bar will be open 4:30 PM until closing Monday through Saturday, and 12 noon to closing on Sunday. Happy hour will be Monday-Friday 4:30 to 6:30 pm, with special prices on select drinks and food.

While enjoying the food and drink, check out the tiles inset in the bar that bear French sayings and Cognac designations, and the rotating series of sketches by local artist Mike Caplanis.

7101 Brookville Road
(301) 986-5255

Photos courtesy La Ferme

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Assault in Pike District, burglary on River Road + more - Bethesda crime update

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

Drug arrest. Norfolk Avenue at Fairmont Avenue.

Drug arrest. Old Georgetown Road at St. Elmo Avenue.

Drug arrest. Woodmont Avenue at Cordell Avenue.

DUI arrest. 8100 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5400 block Greystone Street (Somerset).

Theft. 5200 block Andover Road.

Burglary. 6100 block River Road.

Assault. 11300 block Woodglen Drive (inside apt./condo).

Demolition operations begin at Donohoe's Rugby Ave. mixed-use project (Photos)

The expected wall between the existing Gallery Bethesda luxury apartment tower and Phase 2 of the project hasn't been constructed yet, and no building has actually been smashed yet. But fencing, signage and equipment are moving into place at the future site of the 17-story residential tower where the old Miller and Long headquarters currently stands.
This is one of the few construction sites downtown to actually have the required sidewalk closure sign in place with reopening date (2018).

Equity One requests delay for Westbard sketch plan

If you read my report on the Development Review Committee meeting with Equity One last month, you will not be surprised to learn that the Westbard developer is seeking an extension for Montgomery County Planning Board review of its sketch plan. Several major issues with the 22-acre plan emerged (or re-emerged) during that review on August 22.

Among the points of contention? The realignment of Westbard Avenue to connect directly with River Road was downplayed in Equity One's application, which showed a workaround option should the road shift not happen; planners said it should happen. Whether or not to relocate utility poles on Westbard Avenue was another sticking point, as was the location of traffic signals, and the massing of a high-rise on the Bowlmor Lanes site.

No details were included on Equity One's contributions to the naturalization of Willett Branch Stream, which is directly adjacent to some of the development firm's property. The Maryland State Highway Administration said a traffic study needs to be done on River Road, a busy commuter route. And no provisions were made regarding finding an African-American graveyard that is known from land records to have been on the site of Westwood Tower. Graves are believed to have been disturbed during construction of that building, and could be again under plans for several new structures on the property.

If granted, the extension will push review of the sketch plan back to December 8, 2016. Planners are recommending approval of the extension. Equity One's Bill Brown and their attorney, Barbara Sears, had expressed optimism that the issues could be worked out at "breakout worksessions" with Parks and Planning staff.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Vehicles burglarized in Green Acres, Westhaven; car stolen from Luxemburg St. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 23, according to crime data:

Drug arrest. 5600 block Wilson Lane.

Theft. 8400 block Connecticut Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 4900 block Greenway Drive (Green Acres).

Vehicle burglary. 5300 block Wakefield Road (Green Acres).

Vehicle burglary. 5200 block Little Falls Drive (Green Acres).

Vehicle burglary. 5300 block Worthington Drive (Westhaven).

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Brookview Drive (Westhaven).

Burglary. 6000 block River Road.

Theft. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Stolen car. 5700 block Luxemburg Street.

Theft. Wildwood Giant.

Pedestrian struck. 7100 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Pedestrian struck. St. Elmo and Woodmont Avenues.

Halloween Adventure opens; Layer3 TV, Menchie's arriving at Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photos)

Halloween Adventure opened Friday at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The seasonal pop-up promises "America's largest costume selection."

Layer3 TV has set up a kiosk where the recently-vanished Cleo's Oils was on Level 2. What is Layer3 TV? It is a new cable company that is now available in our area, claiming to offer higher picture quality than Comcast. Cable channels are offered alongside Netflix and Amazon Prime, among other streaming services. But Layer3 is a true cable service, not streaming internet TV, leasing space on fiber systems across the country.

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt
Finally, welcome Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, now under construction behind these walls on Level 1. The chain, which launched in Los Angeles in 2007, now has over 540 locations worldwide.