Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Kenwood Station construction update (Photos)

When Kenwood Station on River Road placed a banner alerting patrons that all stores are "open during construction" at the entrance earlier this year, many asked themselves, "What construction?" Now that project is well underway, as you can see in these photos. The "whole front" of Whole Foods has been ripped off above the entrance, and the entire canopy facade above all storefronts is getting an update. 

It's unclear yet if we'll encounter any further archaeological finds from the shopping center structure's past as a Brunswick bowling alley in the 1970s. During a previous renovation, workers tearing up the floor inside Whole Foods discovered the original Brunswick bowling lanes still intact underneath the boards.

DC developer acquires former Midas property in downtown Bethesda

D.C.-based developer Community Three officially acquired the former Midas auto repair building at 4725 Cheltenham Drive in downtown Bethesda last month. It sold for $4,510,000, according to Maryland real estate records. The official purchaser was Community Three Maryland, LLC, a shell company. 

A plan by real estate firm Bozzuto to convert the building into residential housing was approved by Montgomery County this past January. The 1960s building is currently home to Bethesda Detailers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Wylie Grey to stay at Bethesda Row

Wylie Grey
, currently a pop-up fashion boutique at Bethesda Row, will become a long-term tenant at the Federal Realty property in August. The local business started online, and used Instagram to build a following over the last five years. Wylie Grey features a curated selection of apparel from the favorite labels of founders Nikki Yazdanian and Rachel Grinney. This will be their first bricks-and-mortar location that isn't a temporary pop-up shop.

Photo courtesy Wylie Grey.

Levain Bakery to open next month at Bethesda Row

Levain Bakery
's new Bethesda Row location is expected to open in July, the fresh-baked cookie bakery chain announced yesterday. The bakery is currently under construction at 4844 Bethesda Avenue.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Trader Joe's construction begins at new downtown Bethesda location

Construction has begun this morning at the new Trader Joe's location at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The popular grocery store will be the anchor retail tenant at JBG Smith's new 8001 Woodmont mixed-use development. That building has been scheduled for a Q3 2021 delivery. Trader Joe's is currently located at 6831 Wisconsin Avenue.

Staircase opens at The Elm in Bethesda (Photos)

The "Star Wars staircase" seen in one of my previous construction updates from 7272 Wisconsin Avenue is now open to the public. It leads from Wisconsin Avenue up to The Elm apartment tower. But it will be used by pedestrians and rail commuters in the coming decades, as well as residents of the apartments. For those with more than a cursory knowledge of Star Wars, the stairs evoke the lighted stairway from the iconic lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Bethesda Avenue resurfacing project underway

Bethesda Avenue is one of several downtown streets that have been battered by heavy construction equipment in recent years. At least this street is now getting a smoother surface, but is in the rough milling phase first. If you have a new or expensive vehicle, you may want to choose an alternate route to the parking garages for a few days.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Westwood Pet Center closing at Westwood Shopping Center in Bethesda (Photos)

Westwood Pet Center is closing at 5428 Westbard Avenue in the Westwood Shopping Center, according to signs in the store's windows. One sign - now found often in store windows across moribund Montgomery County - reads, "STORE CLOSING - EVERYTHING MUST GO!" A closing sale is underway.

The store has been a neighborhood fixture for 42 years. Its exit is somewhat of a surprise, as redevelopment plans for the shopping center property by owner Regency Centers had promised to allow this wing of the shopping center and Giant to remain operational, until a new retail building was completed on the other side of the parking lot. Numerous delays in groundbreaking after receiving approval from the County - some explained publicly by Regency, and others not - have also extended the life of the existing center much longer than expected in 2014.

Westwood Pet Center is one of several neighborhood-serving tenants - similar to the dry cleaners, Westwood Barber Shop, salons and Anglo-Dutch Pools & Toys - that draw such heavy traffic to the shopping center. Giant is the only one of those tenants to reach agreement with Regency on returning to the "New Westwood." If the developer fails to deliver on the promise of retaining the beloved small businesses, it could severely reduce the number of errands being run at the new development.

7770 Norfolk rebrands as Windsor Bethesda apartments

The 7770 Norfolk apartment tower on Norfolk Avenue has made a number of high-profile changes since its arrival on the downtown Bethesda skyline in 2016. It has switched from luxury apartments to condos, and then back to rental apartments again - all before the building even opened. It switched owners. And it switched out its anchor restaurant tenant from Community to Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza. Now its branding is changing.

Marketing materials are now referring to 7770 Norfolk as the Windsor Bethesda. While a costly, permanent sign above the entrance still reads "7770 Norfolk," a banner has been tacked up next to it promoting "Windsor Bethesda" luxury apartments. The name change probably won't be much of an issue for residents, and having Anthony's and Medium Rare in the ground floor of your apartment building remains a major perk.

Ege Market closes in Bethesda for "renovation"

Ege Market
is closed at 4923 St. Elmo Avenue in Bethesda. The length of the closure is not yet clear. Signs in the window state, "renovation in progress" and "we are remodeling," while brown paper covers the windows. 

But earlier this week, a "for lease" sign had been hung in the window. That sign has now been removed. The international grocery store has been open for less than a year.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Avocet Tower interactive LED art installation lights up for first time in Bethesda (Photos)

The hanging art installation over the entrance plaza to Avocet Tower was lit for the first time last night. It will probably stand out even more when the building is completed, because it currently is under the harsh glare of powerful lights at the construction site. 

Inspired by astronomical star fields, the 60' long light installation was created by ESI Design. It is also interactive. Touchpoints on the plaza below can be manipulated by pedestrians with varying pressure to change the patterns of the 1800 LED light nodes (once construction fencing is removed).

Developed by StonebridgeCarras, the office tower and AC-branded hotel is located at 7373 Wisconsin Avenue at Montgomery Avenue. Delivery is expected this fall.

NEW4YOU thrift store coming to Bethesda

, a thrift boutique, is coming to downtown Bethesda. It will be at 4909 Cordell Avenue, next to Cubanos. The shop will be a non-profit operation, with proceeds from sales going to charities in Montgomery County.

Items accepted and sold by the boutique will include in-season clothing, jewelry, books, art, furniture, housewares, collectibles and antiques. July 31, 2021 is the shop's tentative opening date.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Montgomery Avenue closure ahead this week in downtown Bethesda

Eastbound MD 410 will be closed at Wisconsin Avenue starting this Friday, June 25, 2021, and continuing through Sunday, June 27. Electronic signs regarding the closure have been posted on Wisconsin by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Use Jones Bridge Road or Bradley Lane as a detour to reach Connecticut Avenue.

New crossing signal activated on Wisconsin Avenue (Photos)

A new crosswalk with pedestrian-activated crossing signals has been activated at Wisconsin Avenue at Chase Avenue in downtown Bethesda. Pressing the button on the control box activates flashing lights installed on signs at the intersection.

Fireworks displays in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac 2021

UPDATE: Good news - The Kenwood Golf & Country Club fireworks display is on for 2021!

Montgomery County has canceled its government-funded public fireworks displays this year, making it an outlier among our neighbors Frederick and Howard counties, who are proceeding with theirs. The City of Rockville has also canceled its display, and City of Gaithersburg officials have postponed theirs. What is a traditionalist to do? If you are near any of these mostly-private fireworks displays, you may be able to enjoy a free show anyway (just don't trespass on private property).

Bethesda/Chevy Chase/Potomac

Chevy Chase Club - July 3, 2021/9:30 PM
Columbia Country Club - June 29/9:10 PM
Congressional Country Club - July 4/9:15 PM
Kenwood Golf & Country Club - June 30/9:15 PM

Poolesville (PUBLIC)

Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department at soccer fields on Hughes Road at Sugarland Road - July 4/Event begins 5:00 PM, fireworks "after dark"/Parking $5.00


Manor Country Club - July 1/9:30 PM
Norbeck Country Club - July 1/9:20 PM
Woodmont Country Club - June 26/9:30 PM

Silver Spring

Argyle Country Club - July 2/9:30 PM

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Construction begins at Sports & Social at Pike & Rose

Sports & Social
is now under-construction at 11800 Grand Park Avenue at Pike & Rose. Massive windows screens promote the upscale sports bar in the former Del Frisco's Grille space. One touts the giant video wall that will be a centerpiece on game days. I spy scrapple and "boozy cereal" on the brunch menu.