Monday, July 31, 2017

Apex sidewalk closure complaint filed, closed by Montgomery County

The dangerous sidewalk closure in front of the Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue continues to stun many, including a Twitter user who filed a 311 complaint with Montgomery County. A County inspector was sent out to investigate, and declared it was a matter in the State of Maryland's jurisdiction. 

"No visible [sidewalk closure] permit or ANY pedestrian accomodations. How is this legal?" tweeted Daniel Warwick to @311MC311.

MC 311 has declared the matter "closed," to Warwick's surprise. The Montgomery County Council remains silent on the closure.

Westbard cemetery supporters launch fundraising campaign

Showing Up for Racial Justice Montgomery County has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Macedonia Baptist Church's effort to save the historic African-American cemetery hidden on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda. Developer Regency Centers and the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission are seeking to build a parking garage and apartments on top of the graveyard, which was already desecrated during construction of Westwood Tower in the late 1960s.

Currently, the church, Regency, the HOC and Montgomery County are in mediation over the fate of the cemetery, and the question of who will conduct an archaeological investigation of the site. The next mediation session is approaching, but the money previously raised to pay for the church's legal representation has run out, according to the GoFundMe page.

In 10 hours, the page has already raised $550 of its $50,000 goal. Legal help is essential, as the other parties are - in Regency's case - flying in executives and attorneys to represent the developer and HOC's interests. In other words, they mean business, and are not simply going to seek a resolution because the political optics are bad.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Daissai Sake tasting event August 3 at Tako Grill

Tako Grill is hosting a free sake tasting event this Thursday evening, August 3, from 6:00-8:30 PM. It will feature 5 Daissai sakes, including Daissai 23, 39 and 50.

The tasting is free, but you must RSVP to by Tuesday, August 1. Tako Grill is located in the Shoppes of Bethesda at 4914 Hampden Lane. Parking is available in the lot in front of the restaurant.

Read Wall now open at Bethesda Row (Photos)

Read Wall, the new menswear store named after its Spring Valley-raised founder, is now open at 4838 Bethesda Avenue. Here's a look inside the space, which was formerly home to Kit + Ace.

The promised bourbon can be
seen on the shelf at far right

Saturday, July 29, 2017

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

Construction continues brick by brick at the future Montgomery County 2nd District police station on Rugby Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The station will replace the current one at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Montgomery Avenue, which developer StonebridgeCarras plans to redevelop as a hotel and office project.

Streetsense marketing former rug shop as retail/restaurant space in Bethesda

Bethesda real estate firm Streetsense is marketing the Mark Keshishian & Sons Oriental Rugs building as ideal for retail, restaurant, medical or daycare use. The rug shop is expected to have relocated to Rockville by the end of this month.

4503-4507 Stanford Street offers two floors, totaling 11,100 SF of interior space. That space is largely uninterrupted with interior support columns, the online listing notes. A restaurant/lounge use would work well with the two-floor layout. It also looks like it could be split into two smaller shops downstairs, with another tenant on the second floor.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Montgomery County crime data blackout enters 9th day

"Crime" vanishes from the Google
results for "Montgomery County
Open Data"
Montgomery County continues to violate its own open data law by excluding crime incident data from its Data Montgomery website for a ninth consecutive day. The latest development is that "Crime" as a sub-result in Google search no longer appears when you search "Montgomery County open data."

I have contacted the County Department of Technology Services, but have not received a response as of press time.

As we wait for the County to comply with its own data law, consider these bullet points from the County's Open Data Policy:

"Complete - All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security, or privilege limitations.

Timely - Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.

Non-discriminatory - Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration."

Deadly Bethesda sidewalk closure returns, with County Council's blessing (Video + photos)

The Montgomery County Council knows that thousands of pedestrians will enter the busy roadway in the 7200 block of Wisconsin Avenue over (at least) the next six months - and frankly, my dear, they don't give a damn. Despite white knuckle videos like these that were captured last evening in front of the Apex Building, the Council folded like a card table under pressure from the developer and State Highway Administration, allowing the unprecedented closure of the sidewalk and a full lane of the jammed commuter route. After the barricades were removed for a few weeks, they returned Thursday, sending impatient pedestrians into the roadway against oncoming traffic.

Watch a car zip past a pedestrian with inches to spare in the above video. And there's plenty more where that came from. This is an untenable situation, brought to you by the same clowns who claimed they were making a goal of zero pedestrian deaths. Total hypocrisy. Once again, you must pay attention not to what this Council says, but what they do (or don't do, in this case).

The closure is related to the demolition of the Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, despite the fact that cities such as New York do not permit such seizures of public sidewalks and roadways during construction. While the County Council claimed to have passed two different laws to prevent sidewalk closures, they have proven to be laws as impotent as the Council itself.
Another near miss; all of these
just within a few minutes on the
first day of the closure

Bethesda street closed to traffic without public notice (Photos)

Leland Street was suddenly closed to traffic turning from Woodmont Avenue yesterday, without any advance public notice or input on the change. No public meeting was held, and no sign warning of a change in traffic patterns was posted at the intersection.

The Sacks neighborhood has had to deal with cut-through traffic for many years. Traffic-calming islands were installed, and turn restrictions have been in place for quite a while now.

After the disastrous "road diet" project that involved illegal use of funds on Little Falls Parkway, and now this, I'm wondering if a donor to the Montgomery County Council happens to be in the traffic bollards manufacturing business.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fitness First clearing out in Bethesda (Photos)

A convoy of trucks and vans lined up in front of 7900 Wisconsin Avenue yesterday, as the contents of the shuttered Fitness First was unloaded into them. 7900 Wisconsin is being demolished to make way for The JBG Companies' 7900 Wisconsin project, expected to be anchored by a Trader Joe's grocery store. Disappointed the Aldon Management cones didn't make an appearance.

Public meeting set for Marriott International HQ project

The development team for the future downtown Bethesda headquarters of Marriott International is hosting a public meeting to preview their sketch plan, preliminary plan, and site plan on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 7:00 PM at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda.

825,000 SF of office space and 225,000 SF of hotel space are planned for the development, which will be located at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue. Several structures remain to be torn down on the site. Hopefully, we will learn whether Marriott was able to assemble the Tastee Diner and Woodmont Grill properties, as it's unlikely they would move forward on a tentative deal with Tastee if they couldn't get Woodmont Grill.

Phase II of Pike & Rose opens to the public (Photos)

Looking north up
the new extension of
Grand Park Avenue that
opened seconds earlier
Federal Realty opened the long-awaited second phase of its Pike & Rose development to the public yesterday at 4:00 PM. A whole new section of the North Bethesda development's street grid is now accessible to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, ahead of some major Phase II business openings next week. Sephora will open in the ground floor of The Henri apartments on August 3. Pinstripes, a dining and entertainment center featuring bowling, bocce and a rooftop terrace, will host a (reportedly sold-out) Grand Opening celebration on August 4. It will then officially open the next day.
Rose Park will be bookended
by L.L. Bean (at right) and
a future restaurant addition
to the left of this scene
Plantings along the edge of
Rose Park looking toward
Rockville to the north
A "terraced" grade and water
features are highlights at
Rose Park

This building on the west
edge of Rose Park is
expected to be a future
View of Rose Park from
outside The Henri
But before those openings, one of the property's biggest public amenities will make its debut. On August 1, Rose Park will open. The half-acre park will feature green space, paths and gathering space, and water features. It serves as the "central park" anchor of Phase II, and is bolstered by an unusual green addition - a tall tree. The Legacy Tree is an attempt to subvert the typical "tiny tree" syndrome in new urbanist developments, by adding a mature tree trucked in from New Jersey, and planting it (via a crane) at the edge of the park.
The Legacy Tree
recently planted at the
edge of Rose Park
From a practical standpoint, the most significant benefit of the new street openings will be for drivers approaching Pike & Rose from I-270 by the Montrose Parkway. Up until Wednesday, you had to laboriously (and counterintuitively) turn left at Towne Road (which shares the title of "Longest Red Light in Montgomery County with its brother one block east), then take the on-ramp onto Rockville Pike and head south to Pike & Rose. Now you can simply turn right onto Towne, and turn left onto Rose Avenue between Pinstripes and The Henri.
Short Cut City: Now you can
enter Pike & Rose from the rear,
by taking this new Rose Avenue
from Towne Road...
...then turn right at this
intersection onto Grand Park Avenue
to reach the parking garages
Here's a photo gallery of the fence opening yesterday, and a preview of what you'll see as you venture though Phase II, another major milestone in the development of the Pike District:
At 4:00, construction workers
unlock the gate at Grand Park Avenue
and Trade Street that has been a dead
end for several years
Gate opening

Removing the cones

I am the first "civilian" on the
new block of Grand Park Avenue
The Henri apartments, and
the aroma of fresh asphalt
Future home of Sur la Table
at the end of August
Across from The Henri is the
Canopy by Hilton hotel, and this
is the future event space for
wedding receptions and more
Even better is this roof deck area
that can create an indoor-outdoor space
for events
Lobby entrance of The Henri
Looking back down
Grand Park Avenue toward
Old Georgetown Road from
in front of The Henri; this block
is quite dark in the late afternoon
Facade of The Henri
Canopy by Hilton hotel
(opening January/Februrary 2018)
topped by 930 Rose condos
Sephora, opening August 3
in The Henri
Sephora is already
fully-stocked inside
Future restaurant space at the
northeast corner of The Henri
Looking north toward the next
block, Rose Avenue and Rose Park (R)
Looking east on Rose Avenue
with future L.L. Bean at left,
and Canopy by Hilton at right
Looking back toward Phase I and
Old Georgetown Road from Rose Avenue
Rose Avenue
Pinstripes rooftop deck
The Henri, as seen from Rose Park
Cement mixer arrives in front
of the Canopy by Hilton
Canopy by Hilton topped
by 930 Rose condos
As All-American as you can get
Working on windows at
future L.L. Bean store

Canopy's ground floor tenants will be
Nando's Peri-Peri, Taylor Gourmet,
Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and
Construction worker poses in front
of future entrance to Canopy by Hilton/
930 Rose condos
L.L. Bean
Gelberg Signs installing the signs at
Main sign at Pinstripes
Outdoor dining space for the bistro
at Pinstripes
The Henri

The north end of the property at
Prose Street remains a closed and
active construction area

Prose Street looking toward
future Porsche of Bethesda dealership
View from the intersection of
Prose Street and Grand Park Avenue
Loading dock or parking garage
at The Henri
The CEO of Pinstripes was on
the premises yesterday
Let's walk back to Phase I... look at H&M, opening at
the end of August
The signs are up at H&M
New mural being added...
...right before your eyes

One of the first vehicles to
drive through Phase II
But pedestrians weren't forgotten...

All clear
Phase II is "Here & Now"