Thursday, January 31, 2019

Framebridge to open store at Bethesda Row

Framebridge is coming to Bethesda Row. The custom frame shop will take over the space that used to belong to Capital Teas at 4806 Bethesda Avenue. Framebridge will design and manufacture custom frames for photos, documents, and artworks. To their credit, the frames are made in the company's factory in Kentucky, not overseas.

Potomac teen missing

A teenage girl from Potomac is missing, and Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in finding her. Mahkaylah Naomi Hammonds, 15, of Pleasant Gate Lane has been reported as missing by her family. Detectives describe Hammonds as a 5″ 00″ female who weighs approximately 150 pounds. She has blue eyes, brown hair, and multiple tattoos on her hands.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Mahkaylah Naomi Hammonds is asked to call the Montgomery County Police Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24 hours).

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Fascino moves at Westfield Montgomery Mall

Italian fine apparel retailer Fascino has relocated at Montgomery Mall. They are now in the former Virtual Insanity Arcade space on Level 2.

Barnes & Noble makes a Fairfax County

Barnes & Noble is much-missed at Bethesda Row. But the chain is planning a comeback with a new store concept, only not in Bethesda. Instead, the bookseller is planning to open one of the new stores in the Mosaic District at 2921 District Avenue in Fairfax County, which along with Loudoun County, is destroying MoCo in economic development (of course, with MoCo at rock bottom in the region, so are little guys like Culpeper and Rappahannock. Humiliating!).

B&N's new prototype store has a downsized inventory focused on books and gifts, dropping declining categories like music, movies and toys. It will also have a cafe, a feature Bethesdans were angered to find missing at the new Amazon Books store at Bethesda Row. The Mosaic Barnes & Noble is expected to open in June, according to the company.

The loss of Barnes & Noble and the Regal Cinemas (which the Montgomery County Council and Planning Board did not require the developer at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue to replace, despite having the authority to do so), along with the increasing flight of the rich out of Montgomery County to lower-tax jurisdictions in the region, has been a one-two punch to Bethesda Row. Longtime large restaurants have suddenly closed, and once-full parking garages now have hundreds of open spaces at the height of dinner hour.

We won't get a true test of the people-drawing power of B&N replacement Anthropologie & Co. until warmer weather returns this spring and summer. For now, the old crowds on the plaza have decidedly dispersed elsewhere. A major part of that is the loss of the theater, as well. Mainstream cineplexes have been shown in studies to draw an additional 20,000 people to an area per weekend. While the early months of Anthropologie have found its Terrain Cafe to be quite busy, the store itself seems to draw only a fraction of the shoppers the "failing" bookstore did.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

LensCrafters to take over Lebanese Taverna space at Bethesda Row

Exodus of the
ultra-rich from
Montgomery County
continues as the 
County Council 
refuses to act

The flight of the rich from Montgomery County continues to be seen in the fate of retail in the wealthiest areas of the County. First our vaunted "Rodeo Drive of Montgomery County" in Chevy Chase became a slum of empty storefronts, aging apartments and smashed-out bus shelters. Then the many vacant storefronts of Rockville and downtown Bethesda, when they could be filled, began to be replaced with decidedly downscale tenants like pop-up shops and tire showrooms. The latest turnabout is the leasing of the empty Lebanese Taverna - a large anchor restaurant deep-sixed by the closure of the nearby Regal Cinemas, which the County Council did not require the developer to replace - by...LensCrafters.
"Jeeves, set the GPS for Loudoun County!"
LensCrafters, a fixture in indoor malls, is the largest eyewear chain in America. But it's certainly not in line with names like Warby Parker, Kate Spade and Williams Sonoma that we've come to expect at Bethesda Row. Landlord Federal Realty is also taking a similar approach to difficult times here to that of the also-shuttered Redwood space; the Lebanese Taverna space has been divided into two new units, the other still available for lease. There's no end in sight for the County's moribundity, either: a follow-up report by the Sage Policy Group last week confirmed that Montgomery's economy remains utterly moribund, and forecasts an even-gloomier future.

Reality check: The Montgomery County Council hasn't moved a muscle to address the crises facing our jurisdiction in the nearly two months since their term began. While they've had time to weigh in on the federal government shutdown, accuse County police officers of racial profiling, and shill for developers who want to turn single-family home neighborhoods into urban mixed-use zones, they haven't taken a single step to make the County more business-friendly, end our archaic government liquor monopoly, reduce congestion for automobile commuters, eliminate the achievement gap and sex scandals in MCPS, cut our record-high taxes, or attract a major corporate headquarters to the County for the first time in 20 years. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Marriott HQ developers release new utility work schedule

The development partners for the new Marriott International headquarters in downtown Bethesda have released a new schedule for upcoming utility work related to the project. This work will require sidewalk and lane closures. They will be working in a clockwise direction, starting the second week in February on Woodmont Avenue.

By late April, they should be working at the intersection of Woodmont and Norfolk Avenue. The block of Norfolk between Woodmont and Wisconsin Avenue is scheduled to be completed over the half of this summer. Wisconsin Avenue utility work will follow from late July to just before Thanksgiving.

None of this work involves Pepco, however. It is primarily WSSC water lines and stormwater management infrastructure. Loud noise like sawing pavement will be performed only during daytime hours, but expect less noisy work to take place Monday-Friday, 6:00 PM to 5:00 AM, from February through November.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Blasting, lane closures ahead for Purple Line construction this week

Blasting is scheduled to occur this week at the Purple Line station construction site at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. A siren will sound prior to each blast. The blasting will take place between the hours of 5:00 AM and 8:00 PM.

This week and next week, expect potential lane closures along East-West Highway between Montgomery Avenue and Sleaford Road, between 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM. The closures are due to the relocation of utilities for the Purple Line in that area.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Morley to host End-of-Season Blowout Sale on Elm Street Jan. 31 - Feb. 4

Morley is hosting an End-of-Season Blowout Sale that is so big, it requires another storefront. From 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM from January 31 through February 4, 2019, the Bethesda Lane boutique will offer savings up to 70% off at a pop-up location at 4921 Elm Street. It will be a cash-only sale.

Friday, January 25, 2019

La Cosecha, a Latin market, to open this summer in NE D.C.

Could Latin food halls be the next trend in Montgomery County? Several Asian food halls have opened or are on the boards in the Rockville area. Word that developer EDENS is bringing a Latin food hall to Northeast Washington, D.C. this summer makes one wonder if such a market would be in the works for Montgomery County, which has a much larger Latino population.

La Cosecha will be a 20000 SF Latin market in the ground floor of the 1270 4th Street N.E. building designed by Shalom Baranes Associates Architects. The market, designed by Gensler, will include the second U.S. location of elcielo from international celebrity chef Juan Manuel Barrientos. Elcielo's first locations were in Colombia, and Miami has the only other American location.

Ali Pacha, which means ‘the plant universe’ in the Aymara language, will serve plant-based fine Bolivian cuisine. Fans of Venezuelan cuisine will want to check out Federico Tischler’s White Envelope Arepa + Ceviche Bar. Pedro J. Rodriguez and Julio Robledo will open a second location of their popular Shaw Grand Cata wine shop at the market. And Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone of Peruvian Brothers fame will open their first bricks-and-mortar concept here.

There will be more than food at La Cosecha, however. Brazilian native Carolina Furukrona’s NOVA BOSSA will curate artisanal Latin American brands, offering art and home d├ęcor, bain couture, fashion
accessories, handbags, jewelry and ready-to-wear fashions. At the market, there will be film screenings, art exhibits, and live performing arts. And the Culinary Immersion Studio will give top chefs and novices alike a chance to show their culinary skills. Additional tenants, including a coffee shop and a bookseller, are planned for the future.

La Cosecha is expected to open in June.

Renderings courtesy of Gensler

Prima installs "Coming Soon" signage at Bethesda Row

The first outward signs of Italian fast casual restaurant Prima appeared yesterday at Bethesda Row. "Coming Soon" window screens were installed at the former Taylor Gourmet space at the corner of Woodmont Avenue and Elm Street. Prima is the latest concept from Boston-based celebrity chef Michael Schlow. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pepco still working on Old Georgetown Road

Pepco was out on Old Georgetown Road near Del Ray Avenue again last night. This time they were in the center of the roadway.

TTR/Sotheby's moving into Bethesda Row

TTR/Sotheby's International Realty has put out a calling card for its imminent arrival at Bethesda Row. The real estate firm is taking over the Make Meaning space upstairs at 4809 Bethesda Avenue. They've installed some "Coming Soon" window screens.

Faryab restaurant available for lease

The building currently occupied by Faryab, a popular and well-reviewed Afghan restaurant in Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle, has been put on the market for lease. Faryab is still fully open for business at last check, and there is no public indication that it is closing yet.

But an online listing is at least testing the market for potential alternative tenants. The storefront is located in a prime spot at 4917 Cordell Avenue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bethesda police station sign malfunctions after less than 1 year

The new 2nd District Montgomery County police station has been open less than a year, and already the lighted sign out front is malfunctioning. Recent night have found the sign flashing on-and-off outside the station at 4823 Rugby Avenue, which opened last February 15. The Montgomery County Council has a poor record of procurement and major infrastructure projects, ranging from the Silver Spring Transit Center and Apex Building debacles to paying $23,000 for a $1000 security camera system in 2017.

Watch video of the sign on the fritz this week:

Urban Plates to offer Old Bay dish at future Bethesda location

Urban Plates, the new American restaurant opening where Naples pizzeria was in the Dining Terrace at Westfield Montgomery Mall, will offer at least one regional-exclusive dish when it opens. A side dish of Old Bay-seasoned roasted potatoes is on the menu. The Maryland-themed item is already found on the menu at Urban Plates in Columbia and Tysons. The chain has put up some additional promotional signage and materials at the mall in recent days.

Pepco work at Old Georgetown and Del Ray (Photos)

A Pepco crew was working at the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Del Ray Avenue last night, closing one inbound lane of Old Georgetown. There was no indication of a power outage at that location, so it may have been planned infrastructure work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Construction wall removed at Drybar at Pike & Rose

The construction barrier in front of the future Drybar at Pike & Rose has been taken down. While the salon's interior is still hidden from view, "coming soon" window screens are now installed. Drybar will be located on Grand Park Avenue, next to UNIQLO.

Meanwhile, there are similar window screens announcing the future arrival of Olive & Loom, also on Grand Park Avenue by Francesca's. Olive & Loom is a brand from the owner of Sabun Home at Bethesda Row. Its product line was originally was sold online and through Sabun Home's bricks-and-mortar location on Bethesda Lane, but now will get its own storefront here at Pike & Rose.

First look: Poki DC at Georgetown Square

Here's a sneak peek at the latest poke bowl restaurant to arrive in Montgomery County, Poki DC at the Georgetown Square shopping center in Bethesda. Located next to Not Your Average Joe's, the fast casual eatery manages to present an upscale interior despite the tiny space. The chain tells me they are hoping to open this location in February.