Monday, December 31, 2018

Bozzuto acquires Chevy Chase Lake property from Chevy Chase Land Co.

Bozzuto has officially purchased property at Chevy Chase Lake from the Chevy Chase Land Company ahead of the redevelopment of a commercial site and grocery store there, according to Maryland real estate records. 8551 Connecticut Avenue, totaling 262141 SF of land, was sold to Bozzuto for $100,000,000 in a sale that closed on November 27.

American Tap Room closes at Bethesda Row

What I reported nine days ago is now official: American Tap Room has permanently closed at Bethesda Row. This is the 16th nightspot in downtown Bethesda to close after the disastrous "nighttime economy" initiative of Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer. American Tap Room was also clearly devastated by the Council's failure to require the developer of 7272 Wisconsin Avenue to provide a replacement cineplex after demolishing the Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10.

American Tap Room was, along with The Barking Dog on Elm Street, one of the last-remaining after-midnight options for moviegoers one block from the Regal Cinemas. The restaurant and bar at 7278 Woodmont Avenue was open until 2:00 AM. The combination of the Riemer-driven implosion of nightlife in Bethesda, and the loss of theater-related foot traffic, was too much for American Tap Room to overcome.

The Bethesda outpost of American Tap Room is also the latest major dining closure since the Regal closed two years ago. Longtime anchors Lebanese Taverna and Redwood went out of business despite years of success before the demolition of the Regal. Bethesda Row is now reeling from numerous, large vacant storefronts - ATP, with the closures of Taylor Gourmet and Kapnos Kouzina, makes a solid wall of shuttered restaurants along Woodmont Avenue at the Federal Realty property.

American Tap Room's space may not remain vacant for long, however. Matchbox is rumored to be the next tenant there in the near future. For now, the restaurant's welcoming torches have gone dark, another sad statement about the County Council's ongoing war against bar and restaurant owners.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

At Bethesda Tesla Store, buyers race the clock to score tax rebate on Model 3

The long-awaited Tesla Model 3 is now on display in the Tesla Store on Level 1 of Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. While the holiday season was a great occasion for the rapidly-dwindling number of wealthy people in Montgomery County to splurge on an electric car gift purchase, buyers need to act fast to receive an expiring federal government subsidy on the expensive machines.

A federal $7500 tax credit on Tesla Model 3 will drop to $3750 for cars received by customers on January 1, 2019 or later. That's because Tesla has already achieved the 200,000 sales point, which triggers the reduction. The tax break will continue to get smaller until it finally phases out entirely in 2020.

Most people who buy Teslas are wealthy, but the loss of the hefty subsidy could hit harder in Montgomery County. The extreme tax burden the Montgomery County Council has placed on residents continues to send the wealthiest in the county for the exits, and they've been leaving in droves to Loudoun, Fairfax, Frederick and even Howard counties. Tax revenue has dropped as a result, and the County's once-touted "Rodeo Drive" in Chevy Chase is now a boarded-up wasteland of vacant shops and smashed-out bus shelters.

With the Council already talking about yet another tax hike, expect more "rich flight" to greener, saner pastures. And for those with just a decently-high salary that ends up providing Weimar Republic-level purchasing power in overpriced MoCo, who can just squeak out a Tesla purchase, the loss of the Tesla tax break could force them to scale back to a Chevrolet Spark.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

MVP Supreme closes at Westfield Montgomery Mall

MVP Supreme has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The urban sportswear store opened at the mall in October 2017. MVP Supreme's owner says he has plans to find a new location for the store, so stay tuned.

Jimmy John's closed at North Bethesda Market

Jimmy John's is now permanently-closed at North Bethesda Market, at 11416 Rockville Pike. The downtown Bethesda location just closed, as well. That location was devastated by the Montgomery County Council's decision to not require the developer of 7272 Wisconsin Avenue to provide a replacement cineplex, after it demolished the Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10.

What went wrong in North Bethesda? It was most likely the general moribundity of the Pike District, which the Council claimed would be the next Tysons, but has been mercilessly crushed by the revamped Tysons. No job growth means no growth in office workers hunting for sandwiches at lunchtime. Looks like the Council had their [briefcases] handed to them "freaky-fast" by Fairfax County once again. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Drybar posts "Coming Soon" signage at Pike & Rose

Blowout salon chain Drybar has posted Coming Soon signage at its future Pike & Rose storefront.  The 1705 SF salon will open at 11861 Grand Park Avenue this coming spring.

Jimmy John's closed in Bethesda

The era of "free smells" on Bethesda Avenue is over. Jimmy John's has closed its store at 4710 Bethesda Avenue. The sandwich shop appears to be the latest victim of the Montgomery County Council and Planning Board's bonehead decision to allow demolition of the nearby Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10 without requiring the 7272 Wisconsin Avenue developer to provide a replacement cineplex. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Like Redwood, Lebanese Taverna and American Tap Room, Jimmy John's had thrived for years. But in the year since the cineplex closed, all four are fading into the quiet, moribund Bethesda night "freaky fast." So many parking spaces are available in public garages around Bethesda Row at peak hours now that embarrassed County officials have deviously switched the "Spaces Available" sign to simply read, "OPEN."

A study conducted during the revitalization of Towson, Maryland showed that a mainstream cineplex showing current blockbusters draws an average of 20,000 additional people per weekend who would not otherwise visit. Thanks, Montgomery County cartel!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Temporary lane closures on Jones Mill Road

Expect temporary lane closures on Jones Mill Road near Jones Bridge Road over the next two weeks. The closures will be due to excavation work for the Purple Line light rail project, and will occur only between the hours of 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM. No Purple Line work is scheduled for New Year's Day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ceremony Coffee Roasters posts Coming Soon signage in Bethesda

Here's an update on Ceremony Coffee Roasters, which is opening in early 2019 at the Bethesda Crescent building at 7475 Wisconsin Avenue. They have posted some "coming soon" signage at their future storefront, and are hiring for all positions.

Bank of America abandons ship at doomed Bethesda building

Bank of America has closed its branch at 7316 Wisconsin Avenue. The office building it was located in will demolished, and the property redeveloped as Metro Tower by B.F. Saul. Bank of America has relocated this branch to 6822 Wisconsin Avenue. Trash is piling up inside and outside the bank.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Asbestos removal begins for Avocet Tower project in Bethesda

Asbestos is being removed from structures on the future site of Avocet Tower in downtown Bethesda. These include the former 2nd District police station, and an adjacent retail property. Both will be demolished to make way for the new project. Avocet Tower will be an office and hotel development at 7373 Wisconsin Avenue, and is being developed by StonebridgeCarras and Buvermo Investments, Inc.

Limebikes arrive in Bethesda

Lime is here in downtown Bethesda. The dockless e-bike company seems to have leaped ahead of an incremental rollout previously announced by Montgomery County officials, that was to introduce Limebikes in three defined zones mapped out in North Bethesda, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. But a whole set of the green bikes suddenly appeared around Bethesda Row last Friday.

That made it seem more of an official drop-off by Lime than the result of random travels by Lime users. Ken Hartman, who represents the County Executive as Director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, tweeted Monday that another Lime bike had popped up in his residential neighborhood.

Downtown Bethesda, and greater Bethesda as a whole, are still not shown as official dockless bike pilot zones on the Montgomery County website, so it's unclear what's going on here. But now that they are here, you can take advantage of them by following the user instructions on the Lime website.

Monday, December 24, 2018

New Bethesda bank already cutting back hours

Is it the ongoing flight of the rich out of record-high-tax Montgomery County, our moribund County economy, or just too many banks in one area? Whatever the reason, the brand-new SunTrust branch in the Element 28 apartment building is already drastically reducing its business hours. The branch is entirely eliminating Saturday hours, and will now close at 3:00 PM on Mondays, instead of at 5:00 PM.

Bethesda Bagels to open at Wildwood Shopping Center

A late holiday gift from Bethesda Bagels for their fans who live north of downtown Bethesda. The popular bagel chain will open a new location at Wildwood Shopping Center in 2019. Bethesda Bagels is enjoying another round of expansion, including a Rosslyn location that opened this fall.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Last-minute shoppers at the Bethesda Row Apple Store (Photos)

Frantic Christmas shoppers were dashing into the Apple Store on Bethesda Avenue Saturday. You may find an elf behind the Genius Bar.

Funky Piece Smoke Shop opening in Bethesda

Here's an update on Funky Piece's newest D.C.-area location, 7814 Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda. The head shop is planning an official grand opening in early January. I have seen the OPEN sign lit at times in recent days, so you might want to check if you are in the area.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Kapnos Kouzina closing at Bethesda Row

Kapnos Kouzina has closed at Bethesda Row, in a reversal of expectations that the successful Greek restaurant would survive the implosion of celebrity chef Mike Isabella's dining empire. I noticed an odd sign taped up in the window tonight, which noted Kapnos would close early at 8:00 PM. It also advised to check the Kapnos website "for our future operating hours."

I've now confirmed that the Bethesda Row location is permanently closed. This is, at least temporarily, a significant loss for Federal Realty. Kapnos was in a space that struggled to attract foot traffic for years. Only the then-positive notoriety of Mike Isabella was able to fill seats in a quiet, hidden corner of the Bethesda Row development. At least the recipe for success here is now known, and another celebrity chef concept can be brought in to fill the void.