Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tips to Toes salon for sale in Bethesda

Tips to Toes, a nail salon forced out of its space by construction of the relocated Marriott International headquarters in downtown Bethesda, is now available for sale according to an online listing. The salon's current location is at 4715 Cordell Avenue, and it remains open for business. According to the listing, the sale price is $108,000.

Sign installed at Poke Dojo at Bethesda Row

The permanent sign has been installed above the storefront at Poke Dojo, opening soon at 7110 Bethesda Lane at Bethesda Row. Work inside has picked up steam in recent weeks. The restaurant gives a pop-up poke menu at Hanaro Sushi its own bricks-and-mortar location.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Delay requested for Bethesda townhome development

The developer of 8 townhomes on a site at 4702 West Virginia Avenue in East Bethesda is requesting an extension for its sketch plan from the Montgomery County Planning Board. An attorney representing the applicant says the delay is necessary to address issues raised during review of the project by the Development Review Committee. Planning staff are recommending approval of the extension, which would push back review of the plan until June 6, 2019.

Windsor posts Coming Soon signage at Montgomery Mall

Windsor, a women's fashion boutique, has posted some "Coming Soon" signage on their future space at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The company began in 1937 as a lingerie and hosiery store owned by two brothers. Now best known for their special occasion dress line, Windsor boasts 200 stores nationwide.

The company is now hiring staff for the new Bethesda store. Their space is located on Level 1 by GNC. Windsor will open this spring.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Chase Bank sets opening date in Bethesda

The first Chase Bank branch in Bethesda at 4749 Bethesda Avenue is now officially scheduled to open on May 14, 2019. Finishing touches are being completed on the interior, and ATMs have now been installed. Even the doormat is in place.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Loyal Companion pet store to open in downtown Bethesda

The Bradley Shopping Center has finally found a tenant for the vacant old pharmacy space at 6900 Arlington Road in Bethesda. Loyal Companion is a national chain pet store that promises to provide all essential pet needs under one store roof, from pet food to grooming and vet services. The company says it has brought together several top brand names, including Kriser's, Especially For Pets, Bark! Dogma – Life, With Your Pet, Pet Source, Pet Life and Whole Pet Central.

Loyal Companion is making a nationwide grand opening event push this coming week. This Bethesda location, however, is so new it is not yet even listed on the website to participate. Stay tuned for an opening date. They're very smart to lease here, because the shopping center is always packed, and people go up and down the row of storefronts for one-stop shopping. I'm surprised this spot stayed vacant for so long, given that reason.

Veterans Park fountains activated in Bethesda (Video+Photos)

The fountains in Veterans Park have been turned on for the summer. They are located at the memorial in the park, which is at the corner of Norfolk and Woodmont Avenues in downtown Bethesda. The memorial recognizes soldiers from Bethesda and Chevy Chase who died in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.

Shoppers Food Warehouse on Nicholson Lane not closing, but pharmacy will

Rumors of the demise of Shoppers Food Warehouse at 5110 Nicholson Lane in White Flint Plaza reached my desk earlier this week. However, a call to the grocery store confirmed it remains open indefinitely. A corporate spokesperson for the grocery chain responded to an inquiry earlier this week on Friday. She said the store will stay open for the immediate future, but that the pharmacy inside the store will close on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Baked Bear franchise for sale

The Baked Bear franchise at Pike & Rose, and an option to open five additional Montgomery County locations, appear to be for sale for $1,200,000. An online listing cites the franchise's gross revenue as $2,100,000. The Pike & Rose ice cream shop is often crowded, and scores highly in online customer reviews. It is the only Baked Bear location located east of the Mississippi River.

Framebridge sets opening date at Bethesda Row

The new Framebridge store looks ready to open any day now, and the custom framing chain says it will open April 30. They can frame more than just photos and diplomas, as you can see in these photos. Framebridge is located at 4806 Bethesda Avenue.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition fundraiser tonight at 7 PM

An event to raise funds for the ongoing fight to preserve, restore and memorialize the Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda will be held tonight, Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the American Legion Post, located at 8110 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring. For a $10 admission fee, attendees will enjoy food, a cash bar, entertainment and speeches.

Noted guests will include master of ceremonies the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Harvey Matthews, 2018 County Council candidate Brandy Brooks, Luci Murphy, Maceo Kemp & Friends, Alfonso Coles & the Capitol African Drummers, and the "HOC 7," who were recently acquitted of all charges after being arrested during peaceful protests at the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, which owns the land the cemetery is located on at Westwood Tower.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams to open at Bethesda Row

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams will provide some competition for Haagen-Dazs and Dolcezza at Bethesda Row starting this fall. The chain will open its first Maryland "scoop shop" on Elm Street, Federal Realty announced in a press release Wednesday.

No street address is given for the shop, and there are two possibilities for its location assuming no current tenant closes. First, is the remaining half of the former Lebanese Taverna space at the corner of Elm and Arlington Road. However, a construction permit has been requested from Montgomery County to divide the Mamma Lucia space on Elm Street into two spaces, one being about a third of the existing 3000+ SF Mamma Lucia.

Mamma Lucia has not responded to inquiries about the construction permit as of this writing.

The Bethesda Row Jeni's will feature established favorites like Brambleberry Crisp and Gooey Butter Cake, along with a new line of dairy-free flavors to appeal to current trends. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams was founded by Jeni Britton Bauer, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, in 2002.

Photo courtesy Federal Realty

Guru Groceries & Chaat House opening in Bethesda

Guru Groceries & Chaat House, an Indian grocery store, is coming to downtown Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle. The store will be opening soon at 7817 Old Georgetown Road, in the recently-renovated Saah Building.

Guru's space used to be home to Sports Extra. Shelves inside the future grocery store are already being stocked.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The "new" Montgomery County Council still beholden to developer sugar daddies

Pro-developer plan will increase
commuting time, destroy affordable 
housing, demolish homes & businesses

The "new" members of the "new" 2018 Montgomery County Council faced their first test of loyalties Tuesday, as they voted on the controversial and unpopular Veirs Mill sector plan. Well, as I warned everyone during last year's election, the "new" Council proved to be just like the old Council, but worse. Without Marc Elrich on the body, all nine councilmembers voted for the pro-developer plan.

Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass, Will Jawando and Hans Riemer all received thousands of dollars in developer contribution in 2018. And their "Yes!" votes yesterday were a thank-you to their developer sugar daddies for the hefty election help.

The plan will allow demolition of single-family homes and businesses along the Veirs Mill corridor between Wheaton and Rockville. Changes to the layout of Veirs Mill Road, reduced speed limits, reduction of left-turn lanes, and longer stoplights are estimated to extend travel times for commuters up to 35 additional minutes on the already-congested road. Single-family home and public recreation properties are rezoned for mixed-use, "town-center" urban-style development in the plan.
The developer-driven plan will allow
clearcutting of this wonderful green space...

...and demolition of several homes behind it on
Robindale Drive, Adrian Street and Weiss Street,
replacing them with a steel-and-concrete urban
town center development
A fake "no net loss" program devised by Riemer's staff will allow demolition of naturally-occurring affordable housing such as Halpine View. While it purports to create just as many new MPDUs, most people who will lose their homes in Halpine View and other properties make too much in salary to qualify for MPDUs, creating a net-loss in affordable housing in the plan area. And even the MPDUs soon expire and revert to market-rate housing permanently.

This is the same thing the Council is allowing to happen on Battery Lane and Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, where many people who can't afford market-rate single-family homes and newer apartments - but who make too much to qualify for MPDUs - currently live. They've already done it in Glenmont, where many residents of apartments like the wonderful Privacy World were forced out never to return to Glenmont.
The Council-approved plan allows this
tree-lined green Montgomery County-owned
property at 4010 Randolph Road to be redeveloped
as a steel-and-concrete urban town center - and
you can bet the Council will sell it to one of their
developer sugar daddies at a sweetheart price!
Halpine View, Rock Creek Woods, Halpine Hamlet, Parkway Woods and other apartment complexes are now rezoned to encourage demolition, and replacement with urban-style, luxury apartment "town centers."

Even while failing to defend the interests of current homeowners, business owners and commuters who are paying record high taxes, the Council bizarrely found time to add a racially-charged political diatribe to the plan. To score political points, and create division among residents, the Council added a section that falsely claims racial covenants ensured the communities around Veirs Mill Road were white-only. In fact, enforcement of such covenants was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948.

The Veirs Mill sector plan as passed will displace thousands of residents, greatly increase traffic congestion, and radically transform the existing green, suburban character of Veirs Mill Road to a stifling corridor of vehicle exhaust and boxy steel-and-concrete Soviet apartment blocs. It was hard to believe that even some civic groups were fooled that the "new" Council would bring back residents' role in planning decisions, and not vote for this kind of pro-developer sector plan. Now it's just plan laughable.

You got steamrolled again.

You can't say I didn't warn you. And while media outlets like the Washington Post colluded with the Montgomery County cartel to prevent candidates like me from getting our message out, I certainly did notice the sheepish smiles of some "woke" voters who knew it was morally wrong to vote for Albornoz, Glass, Jawando and Riemer, who clearly did not represent the change they were claiming to seek in the planning process. Voting simply to ensure a sweep of all nine Council seats by one monopoly party was a really bad idea, now with tragic results for yet another Montgomery County community with this sector plan.

Next up: Aspen Hill. Fasten your seatbelts, folks.

Bethesda Metro escalators: Oh, no, not again!

I am shocked...shocked!...to report that some of the same escalators are out of service again at Bethesda Metro Center. The plaza-to-bus-bays escalator has been closed early this week for what WMATA calls a "major repair." WMATA also reports that a bus bays-to-mezzanine escalator will be out of service for at least part of today for an "inspection repair."

Riders have fled the system for their own personal vehicles or Uber, and only those who get free rides from the government or other employers are returning. The Washington Post has hilariously published recent editorials acknowledging that Metro is still terrible, and demanding that someone devise a way to force people to use it anyway. "Someone figure out how to keep those darn stagecoaches in business!" Good luck!

Reports of rape continue to surge in Montgomery County

Montgomery County police have released a sketch of the Montgomery Village rape suspect, the latest incident made public as reports of rape continue to surge in the County. Detectives report that the white male suspect followed a woman after she got off a Ride On bus in the 19300 block of Watkins Mill Road Saturday night, April 20, around 10:15 PM. Realizing the man was following her, the victim began to run. The suspect then knocked the woman down, dragged her into a grassy area by the nearby woods, raped her, and fled.

The victim went home, and then to a local hospital, where the police were called. She identified the suspect to detectives as a white male in his late 20s, with brown hair. She said he is approximately 6-feet-tall, and weighs about 180 pounds. The suspect also has a tattoo behind his left ear, and was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. Based on the sketch, the sweatshirt has a hood.

Detectives are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect or who may have information about this rape to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050.  Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to their line that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Reports of rape skyrocketed by 53% in mid-2018, according to an official police department memo submitted to the County Council. Police recently reported that rapes had spiked 28% by the end of 2018. The County Council has been silent on the surge in rapes in Montgomery County, and their allies in the local press colluded to silence the topic during the 2018 Council election. I was outspoken on the importance of the issue during the campaign, and my words have been vindicated by the continued increase in reports of rape.

Wake up, folks! Public indifference, and the propagandizing Pravda-style media coverage of County government, are perhaps the biggest challenges we face. The people of Montgomery County need to avail themselves of the information being provided by this Suburban News Network website, start asking why the Council has failed to take action, and begin intelligently voting for councilmembers who will actually take the problem of violence against women seriously.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Wang Dynasty to open May 1 in Bethesda

Wang Dynasty just put up their awning out front last week. Now they've announced a May 1, 2019 opening date. The new restaurant is from Michael's Noodles owner Wei Wang, and is located at 4929 Bethesda Avenue.

Christian Science Reading Room closes in Bethesda

Reading room relocates
to church in Chevy Chase

The Christian Science Reading Room at 4520 East-West Highway in downtown Bethesda has closed. You can now access a Reading Room at the nearby church itself, First Church of Christ, Scientist, which is located at 7901 Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase. On foot, you can take East-West Highway to Connecticut, and the church is about a block-and-half north of East-West, across from the Columbia Country Club.

Christian Science Reading Rooms have existed for over 100 years, and are designed to provide a quiet place to read and reflect on the Bible and Christian Science literature. The loss of the downtown location is certainly a blow for the church in reaching a larger number of workers and residents.

Kate Spade closes at Bethesda Row as the rich continue to flee MoCo

Kate Spade New York closed at Bethesda Row Monday, yet more evidence that high-tax Montgomery County no longer possesses the concentration of ultra-wealthy residents to sustain such high-end boutiques anymore. The closure put a harsh, laser-beam spotlight firmly on Montgomery County, as there are no media reports or corporate announcements of Kate Spade stores closing elsewhere in the country.

Despite the localized nature of MoCo's moribund economy and dwindling "1%," Kate Spade the company didn't come off well in the closure Monday, either. I first heard that the Bethesda Row store would be closing from a reader who shops there on Sunday night. She had received an online notification that the store would be closing, which did not give a closing date. When I attempted to get a comment from the corporate office of Kate Spade early Monday morning, the handbag brand was clearly in denial.

The company would not answer emails all day Monday. A Kate Spade representative in an online chat feature on their website said she had no indication the Bethesda Row store was going to close.  I then called their store at Bethesda Row. Over several attempts, no one answered the phone, which kept ringing and ringing. Meanwhile, pressing 1 during the call would still prompt a voice recording of a chipper employee reciting their street address and operating hours.

Finally, I went to the store in person. It turned out the company had been pretending all day that the store was still open for business, when in fact - while they were telling me this - local contractors were removing the sign from the storefront and covering the boutique's windows. This was misleading to both customers and journalists.
Inside Kate Spade Monday
While Bethesda Row isn't yet becoming Skid Row like the once-touted "Montgomery County's Rodeo Drive" in Chevy Chase, the departure of Kate Spade is a major "check engine light" event. With new retail tenants like LensCrafters in the works for Bethesda Row, it's clear that the market is moving downscale, as the rich continue to flee Montgomery for lower-tax jurisdictions in the region.

Revenues for the County government continue to decline, even as property taxes have increased each year, and taxes are now at a record high for Montgomery County taxpayers. This is an obvious indication that the uppermost tier of the tax base has been sharply reduced. We are now in a downward spiral, where no matter how much you jack up taxes, you are going to get less and less revenue over time. And we have an ongoing structural budget shortfall, as far out as the projections go.

If things seem bleak now, with Montgomery at rock bottom in the region by every economic development statistical indicator, imagine what will happen if the country falls into a recession in the next few years. As I've warned since 2010, we can't go on like this. We must grow our lagging commercial business sector, to recover all of that lost revenue we are currently ceding to booming job centers in Northern Virginia. We need more boardrooms, not more bedrooms. And we must lower our Draconian taxes to levels competitive with rival jurisdictions, so that the wealthiest part of our tax base can begin to return and supply the revenue we need. Finally, we must cut spending drastically, before the County goes bankrupt, which could easily happen now if we have another Great Recession.

Montgomery County Public Schools, as we learned again during a classic Friday "bad-news" dump by MCPS, are continuing to sharply decline along with graduation rates. Our archaic County government liquor monopoly is causing us to lose massive amounts of liquor sales and nightlife revenue to D.C. and Virginia. Our incompetent County Council and their Nighttime Economy initiative ended up tanking the nighttime economy in the County with record numbers of nightspot closures, which caused other businesses to slash late-night hours, and left streets quiet and dark in urban areas after 9 or 10 PM. And our belligerent, radical County Council, pursuing a far-left ideological "War on Cars," continues to oppose completion of our master plan highway system, Express Lanes, and a long-planned new Potomac River crossing.

As a result, Montgomery County hasn't attracted a major corporate headquarters in over two decades. We are in real trouble, folks. Can enough residents wake up in time to stop the Montgomery County cartel before they take us over the financial cliff? Or will we just keep going the way we've been going, badly managing a decline, slouching towards disaster?