Friday, May 31, 2019

Moribund Montgomery County asleep at the (medical device) switch again

Missed another one. And another one! Montgomery County officials have failed to attract the relocating corporate headquarters of two healthcare firms. International medical device company Medacta is moving its HQ from high-crime Chicago to high-energy Nashville. And dental equipment supply firm Dentsply Sirona is leaving its gleaming York, Pennsylvania headquarters behind for Charlotte, North Carolina.

This is only the latest win for both Tennessee and North Carolina. Charlotte snagged the HQs of Honeywell, BB&T and SunTrust in the last six months alone. And one of Tennessee's scores included Montgomery County's own Discovery Communications, which moved the vast majority of its Silver Spring jobs to beautiful Knoxville.

Medacta has chosen a site at 6640 Carothers Parkway in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, where it will not only locate its HQ, but also construct a research and development facility, the Williamson Herald reports. This is exactly the type of suburban office park site Montgomery County could have offered. Barring the fact that the Montgomery County Council is hostile to business, and just raised taxes yet again, why didn't the County make a bid for Medacta?

Dentsply Sirona will create 320 new jobs in Charlotte, the York Daily Record reports. Considering that biotech has been the only bright spot in Montgomery County's moribund economy for two decades, why is the County not even pursuing healthcare-related firms like DS and Medacta?

Norman's Farm Market opening new location this weekend in Bethesda

Norman's Farm Market will open its newest roadside stand this Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 8804 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda. This is the location of the old Bethesda Community Store just north of Suburban Hospital. The market will operate daily through October.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hinata to take usual summer break until June 12

Many of downtown Bethesda's dwindling number of mom-and-pop businesses close temporarily for an annual vacation. Hinata, the Japanese grocery store and sushi spot at 4947 St. Elmo Avenue, is no exception. They have closed for an early summer break, and will reopen on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

Outdated Bethesda wayfinding signs put public at risk

The 2nd District Montgomery County police station moved to Rugby Avenue last year. But according to wayfinding signage in downtown Bethesda, it's still located at the corner of Wisconsin and Montgomery Avenues. This could put the public in danger in an emergency situation.

For example, if a woman noticed she was being followed late at night, this sign at the Cordell-St. Elmo public parking garage would direct her to the old police station site. Instead of losing her pursuer by approaching a police station, she would find herself at a dark construction site where the old station once stood.

In fact, she would actually be closer to the new police station at this garage than the old one. Now that wayfinding signage is more important than ever, since it is primarily used by pedestrians and cyclists, it needs to be kept current. Knowing the location of the downtown police station is particularly important for new residents, visitors and tourists, who are the most likely to refer to such signage.

We've learned in the last week that the Montgomery County Council intentionally decided to spend big money on their cronies over this past decade, rather than invest in updating the public safety communications system. That system has failed several times recently, putting first responders and the public in danger. The lack of funds and effort to address outdated wayfinding signage is another indication of putting political priorities ahead of the basic functions of government, such as protecting the public.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

7340 Wisconsin Avenue gas station property redevelopment back on

The vacant lot once home to a gas station that has been idle for most of this decade at 7340 Wisconsin Avenue is getting the green light for redevelopment again. A public meeting on the project has been scheduled for Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda.

The latest iteration of the project calls for a mixed-use development of up to 319,000 SF, but does not yet break down the number of square feet designated for residential, retail or restaurant space. Developer Bainbridge put a smaller project here on hold several years ago, waiting for greater height and density to be approved in the 2017 Bethesda Downtown sector plan. Real estate observers have been looking for a much bigger project here, a site that literally sits atop the Bethesda Metro station, and will be only a block away from the future Purple Line station at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue.

Lotus Grill & Bar opens in Bethesda

It's turning into a big week of openings around the Bethesda Row area. First, Prima opened Monday at Bethesda Row itself. Then Lotus Grill & Bar opened yesterday at 4929 Elm Street in the Shoppes of Bethesda. The restaurant combines traditional Indian cuisine with tacos and pizza on its menu.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Prima opens at Bethesda Row

Prima, an Italian fast-casual bowl concept from celebrity chef Michael Schlow, is now open in Bethesda. They will be giving away free bowls on Wednesday. Prima is located in the old Taylor Gourmet spot at 7280 Woodmont Avenue.

Bethesda Memorial Day wreaths at Veterans Park

As part of the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Bethesda's Veterans Park, community organizations place wreaths at the park's memorial to the Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents who died in the wars since World War I. Monday's wreaths included those from Montgomery County government, Bethesda Urban Partnership, the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club.

Le Vieux Logis for sale in Bethesda

Longtime downtown Bethesda French restaurant Le Vieux Logis is for sale. The asking price is $150,000, according to an online listing. Le Vieux Logis got a new lease on life with a change in ownership a few years ago, which earned it a rare rave review from the notoriously Bethesda-averse Washington Post.

Sisters: The Village Cafe targeting June opening at Cabin John Shopping Center

Sisters: The Village Cafe is now only weeks away from opening at the Cabin John Shopping Center at 11325 Seven Locks Road in Potomac. The Thai restaurant's manager says they are aiming for an opening in the second week of June.
You can see the outdoor patio is ready to go. Inside is a dessert bar serving Magnolia bakery items, with a retro movie theater marquee. Sisters is right next to Shake Shack, and is from the owners of the Sisters restaurants in Fairfax County.

Audi dealership proposed for Arlington Road in Bethesda

One block of Arlington Road may need to be renamed with an automotive theme, as a new dealership could be added to the existing EuroMotorcars and Ourisman VW/Volvo businesses already there. An Audi dealership is being proposed for 7015 Arlington Road, currently home to Crawford Tire and Auto Service (a.k.a. Goodyear).
7015 Arlington Road
EuroMotorcars' Audi Bethesda today is located at 7106 Woodmont Avenue. Its service center is at 5206 River Road, slightly closer to the proposed 7015 Arlington location. Ourisman VW/Volvo is right next door to the potential Audi site, and EuroMotorcars' main dealership is directly across the street from it.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Bethesda construction update: 4747 Bethesda Avenue (Video+Photos)

While the exterior of JBG Smith's new 4747 Bethesda Avenue office building appears largely finished, much work remains to be done inside. The lobby and office floors above are being built out. Here's a close-up video of the lobby:

A banner near where the building steps down to the two-story retail structure announces the future arrival of JBG Smith. In a moribund Montgomery County that has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in over two decades, the developer found a novel solution to nonexistent demand - moving its own headquarters from down the street in Chevy Chase into this building.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tower cranes to be installed at Marriott construction site next month

The development partners of the relocating Marriott International headquarters have announced the schedule of installation for two tower cranes needed at the site, at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. Crane #1 will be installed on June 8, 2019, a Saturday. Crane #2 will follow on June 22, weather permitting.