Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Cubano's closer to opening in downtown Bethesda

The new Bethesda location of Cubano's at 4907 Cordell Avenue looks to be close to opening. It looks nearly finished inside, with seating already in place. They are hiring for all positions through January 4, so stay tuned for an opening date.

New Capital Crescent Trail plaza celebrates car culture

The new plaza for users of the Capital Crescent Trail on Bethesda Avenue at Ourisman Honda is taking final shape. Ironically, a central feature of the plaza for hikers and bikers is a monument to the automobile, and to the history of auto sales in downtown Bethesda. A tribute to "We drivers!," the elevated plaque recalls auto dealerships of Bethesda's recent and distant past, and the automobile's role as a "tangible means of living 'the American Dream.'"

Monday, December 30, 2019

Jim Coleman displays new Cadillac XT6 at Bethesda Row

Bethesda Cadillac dealer Jim Coleman is displaying a gift many wish they had received Christmas morning on Bethesda Lane. The new Cadillac XT6 is an SUV with three-row seating that competes with Lincoln's Aviator. I'm still waiting for Cadillac to bring back a full-size, V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive sedan.

Lilly Pulitzer closes at Bethesda Row

Lilly Pulitzer has closed at Bethesda Row. Formerly The Pink Palm, the store has been cleared out. It was an abrupt closure without a closing liquidation, but has been in the works for some time.
Last August, a source told me Lilly Pulitzer would be closing. A store employee told me at that time that there were no plans to close.
While we never saw the "Store Closing!" and "Everything Must Go!" signs now ubiquitous across moribund Montgomery County, it's troubling to see a popular and enduring brand store closing in what was once a target market. The rapid flight of the rich from Montgomery County to lower-tax jurisdictions in our region seems to have impacted their favored stores as much as it has the County's collapsing tax revenue haul.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Bethesda construction update: Edgemont II (Video+Photos)

Construction of the Edgemont II is still in the very early stage at the corner of Woodmont Avenue and Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda. You can see how the curb lane taken from the public is being used for parking and storage, not to protect pedestrians. More evidence of an impotent Montgomery County Council controlled by their developer sugar daddy puppeteers.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

4919 St. Elmo Avenue sold in Bethesda

4919 St. Elmo Avenue has changed hands. The property, which is currently home to JS Audio - Video, was sold in November for $850,000 according to real estate records. Heffron Company, Inc. was the buyer.

Friday, December 27, 2019

How did Montgomery County fail to attract yet another Fortune 500 HQ?

Montgomery County officials have failed yet again to attract a major corporate headquarters; the county hasn't attracted a single one in over twenty years. Fortune 500 financial services giant Schwab was looking for an escape plan from California, a state that is an economic powerhouse but seemingly doing all it can to relinquish that title. Texas, as it so often is, was the winning suitor. An excellent article in the Dallas Morning News explains why suburban paradise Westlake, Texas crushed Montgomery County in the bidding war for Schwab.

Our elected officials, and their few supporters among county residents, continue to suffer from a severe case of Lake Wobegon syndrome. With no critical press corps, massive voter fraud, and unlimited money from the local political cartel, they've been free to continue believing that every day, in every way, Montgomery County is getting better and better.

"There’s a cachet associated with Westlake," the Morning News reports. "Westlake is one of the nation’s premier suburban markets. It has great schools, great hospitals, great gated communities, a lot of celebrities, athletes and former athletes live in that area. It’s highly desirable for the types of executives and high net worth individuals that will be working on this new campus."

In contrast, Montgomery County Public Schools have steadily declined this decade, with test scores and graduation rates plunging, and a widening achievement gap. Many of the ultra-rich who don't share the radical, Neo-Communist views of the Montgomery County Council have fled to lower-tax jurisdictions in our region, tanking County revenues in the process.

Transportation and airport access remain critical to corporate relocation decisions.

"The qualitative parts of site selection that a Schwab would look at have to do with lifestyle amenities like transportation assets. Dallas also enjoys unique access to the global marketplace with major air service."

Montgomery County, on the other hand, has nation-leading traffic congestion, an incomplete highway network that County officials have openly boasted they will not complete, and no direct access to Dulles International Airport, the only airport in the region with the frequency and international destinations of flights demanded by international businesspeople.

County officials have refused to construct the new Potomac River crossing to Dulles that would provide that direct access.

Also important, according to the article, are "the relationships with local elected officials. Are they pro-growth like the folks in the Dallas are? Or do they tend to be anti-business, like elected officials in the Bay Area?"

Montgomery County is clearly in the anti-business category, as demonstrated by its rock-bottom economic development status in the region. MoCo was even whipped by Culpeper and Rappahanock counties this decade. Now that's embarrassing.

Once again, the need to be a desirable destination for millennials and Generation Z is a significant factor. "Fortunately for cities like Houston, Austin and Dallas, you have high in-migration rates of working professionals and young people."

Young professionals are avoiding Montgomery County like the plague, by comparison. MoCo shares the "out-of-control housing costs" of California, and is busy approving demolition of what affordable housing exists - with a redevelopment of Battery Lane that will deliver a net loss of affordable units being the latest.

The County Council's disastrous Nighttime Economy Task Force effort ended up destroying the nighttime economy, with 18 nightspots closing in downtown Bethesda alone in its wake. Young people are going just about anywhere but Montgomery County for nightlife, as it continues to grow its reputation as the boring and sleepy bedroom community for the booming job centers elsewhere in our region.

One new factor not really discussed before is the concern of shareholders. The Morning News reports that choosing a business-friendly HQ site like Texas or Tennessee pleases shareholders, who can expect greater profit margins as a result.

Business friendliness is especially important when the national economy goes south, the paper notes.

"There's an enormous amount of uncertainty about the economy. What the economy will look like a couple of years from now with respect to potential tax increases, regulations and uncertain trade issues.

"And that’s really bringing back a focus on the old fashioned cost-of-doing-business business climate analysis. Because states that will best weather the storm of an economic downturn are states like Texas and Florida that have pro-business policies, low taxes, fiscal restraint."

Canal Road lane closures begin today

Temporary lane closures on Canal Road N.W. are scheduled to begin today. The one lane closure will be between Chain Bridge Road and Foxhall Road, N.W., and is scheduled to last until January 6, 2020. According to the D.C. Department of Transportation, the closures for road construction will take place Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM, to avoid impacting rush hour traffic.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Chef Tony's owner to open new restaurant at The Promenade in Bethesda

Great news for fans of Chef Tony's in Bethesda - and greater news if you live in The Promenade on Pooks Hill. Chef-owner Tony Marciante will be opening a new restaurant in The Promenade in 2020. Known and highly-rated for its great service and commitment to fresh, high-quality seafood, Chef Tony's has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in downtown Bethesda for many years.

The new restaurant will be located in the existing restaurant space in the co-op condominium building. That restaurant closed about a year ago. The Promenade's Board of Directors has been seeking a new tenant, and one that would provide a top-notch dining experience. They employed restaurant consultants to assist in their search.

Marciante's Promenade venture is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-to-late 2020. The Nathan Landow-developed building is like a luxury cruise ship on land, and now sweetens its extensive on-site amenities with fine dining from one of the top restaurateurs in Bethesda.

Bethesda misses the boat on return of Tommy the Matchmaker to site of Yacht Club

"Missed it by that much." That's what singles 35 and older, and those with nostalgia for the boom times of the legendary Yacht Club of Bethesda, may be saying when they learn the club's famous captain - Tommy "the Matchmaker" Curtis - almost made a triumphant return to that spot for New Year's Eve.

A source reports that The Bethesdan Hotel and Curtis were in negotiations for a New Year's Eve hosting appearance in the totally-renovated hotel's ballroom, but ultimately could not come to terms on the compensation. The Bethesdan was the Bethesda Holiday Inn in the late 20th century, when Curtis and the Yacht Club had their massively-successful run in the lower level of the hotel. It is estimated that over 200 couples married after being matched at the Yacht Club over the years.
Signage referring to the Yacht Club
remained in the hotel decades after the
legendary nightclub closed
Asked for comment, Curtis said the negotiations were amicable, and he didn't rule out the possibility of an appearance at the hotel in the future. "Cupid doesn’t come cheap and we couldn’t come to an agreement on my compensation," Curtis quipped. "Negotiations were actually congenial at the highest level and we left the door open for some deal in the future."

The missed opportunity hasn't left Curtis idle. He is still busy commuting between the D.C. area and Hollywood in what has been a longtime career in the movie business. His latest effort will be a documentary with a high-profile public personality as its subject, a project he inherited from his late uncle, Robert Cohn. Working with him on the movie is his producer brother Bruce Cohn Curtis.

In addition to his own resume of films he had a hand in, ranging from Hell Night with Linda Blair to Dreamscape to The Seduction, Curtis' great uncle and grandfather founded Columbia Pictures. Assisting the deal for the documentary on this side of the country is former D.C. Councilman and Manatt Phelps senior partner John Ray.

Could the Yacht Club sail once again? After all, its former space in the Bethesdan remains vacant, and nightlife in Bethesda has collapsed since Curtis and his contemporaries ruled the scene.

“I constantly receive inquiries from developers and the like regarding a new Yacht Club, and may even consider an opportunity in Georgetown," Curtis confided. "Of course, I could come back to Bethesda, the area that Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row has said is so in need of nightlife,” he added.

No more left turns from Westbard Ave. to River Road in Bethesda

Left turns from Westbard Avenue onto River Road in Bethesda have been banned. A sign was installed just before Christmas on Westbard at the intersection that forbids drivers from turning left to the westbound lanes of River Road. Right turns onto eastbound River are still permitted.

Under the 2016 Westbard sector plan, Westbard Avenue is to eventually be sealed off at River Road to all traffic except emergency vehicles. This smaller step addresses what has always been a risky maneuver at this unsignaled intersection with poor sight lines.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Lions at Bethesda's Lionsgate condos ready for Christmas

The lions out in front of the Lionsgate luxury condos in downtown Bethesda are clearly ready for Christmas. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to each and every one of my readers. Each time you share these articles on social media or by email, we each become stronger and the corrupt Montgomery County political cartel weakens by an equal amount.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hogan follows Trump in creating new Christmas Eve holiday

Days after President Donald Trump surprised federal workers with a new holiday designation for Christmas Eve, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan provided the same Christmas Eve bonus to state workers. Today, December 24, 2019, is now an official state holiday. Maryland state government agencies and offices will be closed today in observance of Christmas Eve.
“I am declaring Christmas Eve a state holiday this year to give our dedicated employees more time to spend with their families and loved ones,” Hogan said in a statement. “We hope that our hardworking state workers, and all Marylanders, have a merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season.”

Interesting trivia: The last president to give federal workers a full holiday on Christmas Eve was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Bethesda construction update: The Wilson/The Elm (Video + Photos)

Carr Properties' 7272 Wisconsin Avenue redevelopment project is beginning to exert its presence on the Bethesda skyline downtown - and beyond. Already looming dead center to drivers on Wisconsin Avenue heading towards the District as they enter the Central Business District, twin towers The Wilson and The Elm can now also be seen from the Kenwood and Springfield areas of southwest Bethesda. The 29-story development appears ready to supplant the Chevy Chase Trust building as the building in downtown Bethesda seen miles away from downtown Bethesda.