Monday, September 30, 2019

Potomac construction update: Playa Bowls (Photos)

Slowly but surely, work continues inside the future Playa Bowls at the Cabin John Village shopping center in Potomac. The healthy superfood restaurant comes to us from New Jersey, at the Jersey Shore. Here are some on-location photos of the progress inside the brightly-colored interior.

DoubleTree Bethesda switches signage to The Bethesdan Hotel (Photos)

The rebranding of the DoubleTree Bethesda is pretty close to official. Exterior signage is now changing over to The Bethesdan Hotel. The property, which is owned by the Bernstein Companies, remains in the Hilton portfolio, It is now within Hilton's Tapestry Collection, instead of DoubleTree by Hilton.
Work continues in the new Leo & Liv restaurant inside the hotel. Dining tables are being loaded in, so they must be nearing the finish line.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Water shutoff for buildings near Marriott construction site Monday evening, September 30

The development team for the Marriott construction project at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue is warning of a temporary cutoff in water service for buildings near their site tomorrow evening, Monday, September 30, 2019. Water service will be interrupted between the hours of 9:00 PM and midnight, they say, but they will make an effort to turn it back on sooner if possible. The shutoff will be due to installation of water, sanitary and stormwater lines to and from the Marriott site.

Bethesda construction update: 4747 Bethesda Avenue (Photos)

The remaining construction work at JBG Smith's 4747 Bethesda Avenue development is almost entirely inside. Office floors are being built out, as well as the lobby. Kastle is a familiar security access company to anyone who frequents office buildings in the D.C. region (I've used a Kastle Kard myself at one of my past jobs), but there is a backlit screen as part of the system here, as you will see in one of the photos below. I'm not sure what functions it has, but it looks cool and is a good ad for the company. You can also see fancy furniture in place already, but with protective covering on it, as workers and equipment are still passing by it.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bethesda construction update: Avocet Tower (Video+Photos)

Here's a look at the progress on StonebridgeCarras' Avocet Tower development, located at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Montgomery Avenue in downtown Bethesda. This is the former site of the 2nd District Montgomery County police station. From the aerial vantage point, you can see how much these few blocks near the Bethesda Metro station are going to change in the next four years, with new buildings also planned for the blocks north of the 7272 Wisconsin project.

Friday, September 27, 2019

No MCPS schools make 2019 Blue Ribbon Schools list

Montgomery County Public Schools were shut out again in the U.S. Department of Education's 2019 Blue Ribbon Schools list. Not a single MCPS school was named a Blue Ribbon School this year, and it's not the first time this decade this has happened. MCPS performance has steadily declined across the board since 2010. Its failure to close the achievement gap certainly did not help earn an award that partly considers schools' success in doing so among its criteria. Overall academic excellence is the other major consideration for recognition as a Blue Ribbon School.

The failure to show in this annual federal measure of academic excellence is just the latest embarrassment for MCPS. Surging drop-out rates, questions about student safety, failure to fully-vet staff, repeated sexual abuse scandals, a persistent achievement gap, poor test scores, and a chronic class attendance problem have already tarnished what was once considered the premiere school district in the Mid-Atlantic. MCPS has also begun to earn a national reputation as lightweight in academic rigor; a new, easy grading system has really taken the shine off top marks, and when students continued to fail final exams, MCPS simply got rid of the exams. Neither move will impress college admission officials as word spreads.

Unlike Montgomery County, public schools from Calvert, Howard, Prince George's and Worcester counties were recognized on this year's Blue Ribbon Schools list. Only one Montgomery County school made the list this year, and it was a Catholic school - St. Raphael School in Rockville. Students there celebrated with Chick-fil-A, according to the Catholic Standard. 

Montgomery County officials have continued to throw greater amounts of money at MCPS, with no positive result, clearly indicating that the problem is not funding alone. With Montgomery County floundering on every front from education and economic development to crime and traffic congestion, it's clear we need new leaders who actually know what they are doing, and will put the best interests of children ahead of their own political calculations. We must overcome a political cartel that suffers from a severe case of Lake Wobegon Syndrome, and accept that this County is in real trouble, folks.

Another Montgomery County job center lost

Montgomery County continues
to become the bedroom community
for job centers elsewhere in region

The developer of 1800 Research Boulevard in Rockville, a property approved for an office development, is requesting a master plan amendment to flip it to residential. FG Office Group, LLC, a Lerner shell company, is seeking to build a 350-unit residential building with courtyards and two "amenity spaces." One will be a pool, and the other a green space with patio and picnic areas.

Previously, the site had been designated for a 210,981 SF office building. The site would seem ideal for a biotech or medical research company, given its proximity to the I-270 biotech corridor, Shady Grove Hospital and The Universities at Shady Grove. But Lerner says it has concluded there is no market demand for office presently. Lerner adds that it has been unable to find tenants for their existing Fallsgrove office building on Shady Grove Road.

The moribund Montgomery County economy continues to stymie the office market. Some developers have even been forced to move their own headquarters into their new office buildings because they are unable to sign an anchor tenant.

Montgomery County hasn't attracted a major corporate headquarters in over twenty years. The end result is that a planned job center at Fallsgrove, similar to changes at King Farm, Bethesda, Wheaton, Silver Spring, and elsewhere in the County, will now be permanently lost. So even if the County changes leadership and policies to be more business-friendly down the road, those new jobs can't be placed here to reduce the number of County residents driving to job centers in Northern Virginia and the District.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Bethesda construction update: Matchbox at Bethesda Row (Photos)

The pizza oven now says, "Matchbox," at the local chain's latest location, opening soon at Bethesda Row. Some seating is now in place, and even some decor on living room-style shelves. This is where American Tap Room used to be at the corner of Woodmont Avenue and Elm Street. Still no Matchbox sign outside.