Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Winter Wonderland this Saturday, December 4 in downtown Bethesda

Downtown Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle neighborhood will once again become a Winter Wonderland this coming Saturday, December 4, 2021. Bethesda Urban Partnership will host its annual holiday event that afternoon, from 1:00 - 4:00 PM at a new location, the Bethesda Streetery on the closed block of Norfolk Avenue between St. Elmo and Cordell Avenues.

Enjoy an ice-sculpting demonstration from 1:00 - 2:00 PM. When the sawing stops, you'll be able to hear the festive sounds of the elite choir groups from the Academy of the Holy Cross, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Georgetown Prep, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, and Walter Johnson High School. For kids, there will be games and arts and crafts activities throughout the event.

There are many restaurants at and near the event location, and Smoke BBQ and Red Bandana Bakery will both be selling food at the event as official vendors. However, admission and participation in the event's activities are free.

Photos courtesy Bethesda Urban Partnership

Pulse Fitness to relocate in February 2022

Tenants at the Westwood Center II mini-mall at 5110 Ridgefield Road in Bethesda continue to seek future locations, as the demolition of the structure nears. Yirasai Sushi will eventually move to Park Potomac. Kumon Math and Reading Center will go a much shorter distance, and reopen in the Westwood Shopping Center across the street. Now Pulse Fitness is preparing its relocation plan.

Pulse will relocate to the Crescent Gateway building at 6931 Arlington Road in downtown Bethesda on February 1, 2022. The new facility will feature a gym, three Pilates studios, and a covered 3000 square foot outdoor space. Construction is already underway. Westwood Center II is being demolished to make way for a rerouted Westbard Avenue, and an assisted living development.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Sneak peek: The Hunter's Hound in Friendship Heights (Photos)

Here's a sneak preview of the impressive interior of The Hunter's Hound, the "modern Irish Americana" restaurant opening soon at the Collection at Chevy Chase in Friendship Heights. The decor is definitely hunting-themed. There is also an interesting ceiling design, and an overall rustic, hunting lodge vibe to the interior.

PetWellClinic opening at Pike & Rose

When your dog goes to Pike & Rose next year, it may not just be for fun and treats at Bark Social. That's because PetWellClinic is opening a location on the Rockville Pike/Old Georgetown Road corner of the Federal Realty property. The preventative-care veterinary clinic will be between Visionworks and Chipotle.

Franchisees Dave Ballow and Liz Overmann plan to open this and 24 other locations in our region. The Knoxville-based clinic chain was founded in 2009 by Dr. Sam Meisler, who sought to catch pet illnesses early through preventative care, while lowering vet bills for pet owners by stopping disease before it requires more expensive treatment.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tacombi Bethesda update (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress at Tacombi at 4749 Bethesda Avenue, as the restaurant gets closer to opening day. It hasn't advanced as far as I expected in nearly a month since my last update. Many things look the same as they did in late October. They are now hiring for all positions, however.

Where to buy Christmas trees in Bethesda 2021

Christmas tree-buying season is fully underway in Bethesda for 2021. I noticed The Washington Post is pushing exurban Christmas tree farms hard this weekend - but why spend two hours driving, when you can buy your tree right here in town? Here is a list of some of the live Christmas tree options in Bethesda and Chevy Chase for 2021:

American Plant
- 5258 River Road & 7405 River Road (curbside pickup available at 7405 River); Open 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM daily

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad - 5020 Battery Lane at Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda; Open 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM weekends, 2:00 - 9:00 PM weekdays until sold-out

Dan & Bryan Christmas Trees at
4600 Davidson Drive at Wisconsin Avenue

Dan & Bryan Christmas Trees
- 4600 Davidson Drive at Wisconsin Avenue (across from the Chevy Chase Club property, just south of downtown Bethesda); Open 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM weekends, 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM weekdays; Dan & Bryan provided the 2009 and 2020 Christmas trees for the White House

Home Depot - 7111 Westlake Terrace in Bethesda by Montgomery Mall

Hughes Landscaping - Lot is at St. Bartholomew's Church at 6900 River Road in Bethesda, but they also offer contactless delivery to your Bethesda, Potomac, Cabin John or Glen Echo-area home if you order by phone at 301-330-4949; employees will not enter your home due to Covid-19 protocols; Open 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM weekends, 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM weekdays

North Star Christmas Trees at 
2550 East-West Highway in Chevy Chase

North Star Christmas Trees
- 2550 East West Highway (MD 410) Service Road in Chevy Chase, (corner of East West Highway and Grubb Road); Open 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM weekends, 12:00 - 10:00 PM weekdays, and special hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Christmas Eve

Shops at Sumner Place - The D.C. Palisades Georgetown Lions Club makes a triumphant return to their classic spot in the parking lot of the Shops at Sumner Place at 4701 Sangamore Road in Bethesda, near the vacant PNC Bank by the Sentinel Drive entrance to the shopping center; Open 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM weekends, 3:00 - 8:00 PM weekdays

Strosniders Hardware in the 
Bradley Shopping Center in Bethesda

Strosniders Hardware
- 6930 Arlington Road in downtown Bethesda; also sells Christmas decor and lights; Open 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM Sundays, 7:00 AM - 8:00 PM weekdays, 7:30 AM - 7:00 PM Saturdays, and special hours of 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM on Christmas Eve

Sutherland Christmas Tree Market - Lot is on the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church lawn/parking lot at 3514 Garfield St. N.W. (on Massachusetts Avenue N.W., before Observatory Circle)

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Small Business Saturday at Anglo Dutch Pools & Toys in Bethesda

Today is Small Business Saturday across America, a day promoted by American Express to highlight holiday shopping opportunities at small businesses nationwide. While big box stores and malls tend to dominate Black Friday, today is a day for the mom-and-pop shops and independent retailers to take the spotlight. Anglo Dutch Pools & Toys in Bethesda has been given the spotlight by American Express, having been named both a Neighborhood Champion and a Member Favorite by the firm over the years.

Anglo Dutch is a family-owned, independent toy store at 5460 Westbard Avenue, in the Westwood Shopping Center. But you'll be surprised at the inventory of the hottest, in-demand toys they have in stock, both in the store and online. In fact, the store has received national and international attention from collectors of Squishmallows over the last year, with buyers lining up outside the store and unboxing their Anglo Dutch deliveries online from other states and countries.

For Small Business Saturday today, November 27, 2021 and again on Cyber Monday, November 29, you can save 20% off on products in-store and online. Just use the code BFSSCM21 at checkout.

Coronavirus doesn't take a vacation, but Maryland Health Department does

Coronavirus case numbers appeared astoundingly good in Bethesda, Montgomery County and the state of Maryland on Thursday and Friday. A little too good, given that cases are trending upward across the country and the world. In fact, Maryland's coronavirus website is inaccurately showing zero new cases for Thursday and Friday, November 25 and 26, 2021. It turns out that the Maryland Department of Health took Thursday and Friday off, and did not provide accurate data for new cases of Covid-19 during this period. 

The failure to inform the public is remarkable, given the firm government hand regarding masks, school and business closures, lockdowns, and vaccinations by Maryland officials over the last two years, and the announcement of the new Omnicron variant. According to The Washington Post, Virginia and the District of Columbia also did not report case numbers for Thursday and Friday. The Post (in its print edition, at least) did not report that Maryland would also fail to do so, however.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Lego menorah lighting at Bethesda Row on November 28

Start the celebration of Chanukah in a memorable way this Sunday, November 28, 2021 (or the year 5872, to be completely accurate) at Bethesda Row. Join the Chabad of Bethesda at 5:00 PM on Bethesda Lane across from the Apple Store for the construction and kindling of a giant Lego menorah. 

Attendees at this event for all ages will be able to build their own Lego dreidel, and take selfies with Judah Macabee. Enjoy Chanukah music, a magic and juggling performance, and tasty latkes, donuts, and chocolate gelt.

The event is free, and no RSVP is required. If you have questions or need more information, call Chabad of Bethesda at 301-913-9777.

South Block to open first Maryland location at Pike & Rose

South Block
is expanding to Montgomery County. The healthy smoothie and acai bowl eatery will open its first Maryland location in 2022 at 11803 Grand Park Avenue at Pike & Rose. South Block also serves fresh pressed juices, and avocado or banana toast. Right now, their existing locations are serving non-dairy Cavenog, which I look forward to trying next holiday season! South Block currently has stores in the District and Northern Virginia.

Photo courtesy South Block

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Black Friday at Westfield Montgomery Mall 2021

Westfield Montgomery Mall
will be closed today, Thanksgiving Day 2021. The mall will open for Black Friday tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM, and close at 10:00 PM. Stores that have their own outside access may have different hours, so call ahead. Have a hearty Thanksgiving dinner tonight, to fortify yourself for shopping Friday.

Black Friday deals will include 20% off regularly-priced items at Windsor, 60-70% off women's coats at Macy's, 30% off entire purchase at Soma Intimates, 25% off everything at White House | Black Market, 40-50% off everything at Express, 50% off everything at Fabletics, 40% off everything at Gap, 40% off your purchase at Banana Republic, and 30% off your purchase at Pandora.

Santa Claus
will be in the house from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Black Friday. Make your reservations for photos with Santa online, and to learn more details about pet photos, and the Sensitive Santa's special appearances for those with sensory concerns or who need extra time for photos on December 5 and 12, from 9:30-10:30 AM both days.

Give yourself a boost while shopping with the limited-edition holiday treats at Auntie Anne's on Level 2. Snowball Nuggets are pretzel nuggets tossed in powdered sugar. The Peppermint Chocolate Frost is an iced beverage topped with whipped cream and peppermint sprinkles. A must-try!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II to Montgomery County officials: "Quit trying to sell this property" containing black cemetery

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign and a civil rights activist with national influence, excoriated Montgomery County officials yesterday while celebrating a court victory by advocates for the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. After the court granted advocates an injunction blocking the sale of the Westwood Tower property that contains the cemetery, Bethesda investment firm Charger Ventures withdrew its $51 million offer to purchase it from the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission. "Quit trying to sell this property," Barber admonished County officials in a statement on Tuesday.

Barber called on the County to turn the cemetery property over "to those who want to preserve it," describing the now-scuttled sale agreement as "illegal." He praised Charger Ventures for walking away from the deal with the HOC. "We are heartened by this company’s decision, which is a victory for all who organized to honor their ancestors there and prevent the exploitation of their ancestors for economic gain," Barber said. "The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has been honored to stand with those who stood for justice, and we say with them, ‘forward together, not one step back!'’’

BioTec USA opening Montgomery Mall location

BioTec USA,
a skin care clinic offering a range of products and spa services, is expanding to Montgomery County. A new location will be in Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Founded by Science Director Tanya Gospodinova, BioTec has an existing location in the Foxhall area of Northwest Washington, D.C. Look for BioTec soon on Level 2 next to Avalon, right outside of Nordstrom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Martin's-branded grocery bags spotted at Bethesda Row Giant

Mergers and acquisitions are heating up to 1980s levels across much of the world, and the impact can be seen right here in Bethesda. When residents aren't wondering why Acme trucks are pulling up to the loading dock at Safeway, they're finding other grocery chains' bags at the checkouts at Giant. Like these Martin's plastic bags spotted at the Bethesda Row Giant

Both chains are owned by the Dutch firm Ahold Delhaize USA. For Today's Table is a branding campaign launched by The GIANT Company for Martin's last year. The GIANT company is separate from our local Giant chain, but is also owned by Ahold. As is Stop & Shop, whose public address announcements occasionally find their way onto Giant speakers in Bethesda.

Trump endorses Dan Cox in Maryland governor race

Republican candidate Delegate Dan Cox has received President Donald Trump's "Complete and Total Endorsement" in the 2022 race for governor of Maryland. Trump declared Cox "MAGA all the way," after speaking with him by phone while Cox was visiting the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis on Monday. He called Cox a "tough lawyer and smart businessman."

The Trump endorsement was another opportunity for the 45th president to roast current Gov. Larry Hogan (R) almost as much as touting Cox's MAGA bona fides. Trump's statement blasted Hogan as a "RINO," or Republican-in-name-only, who "has been terrible for our Country." Hogan has been highly critical of Trump, and briefly entertained the idea of running against him in 2020.

Trump praised Cox as an advocate for low taxes, election security, veterans, school choice, and 2nd Amendment rights, and for opposing further pandemic lockdowns of schools and businesses. Last year, Cox sued Hogan over coronavirus restrictions in a case that was ultimately dismissed, but which raised Cox's statewide name recognition.

Cox expressed his "sincere gratitude" to Trump for the endorsement in a livestream on Facebook Monday evening. He is competing against Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz, Montgomery County attorney Robin Ficker, Nottingham resident Minh Thanh Luong, and Baltimore County attorney Joe Werner in the Republican primary.

Capital Properties exits Westbard redevelopment picture in $100 million sale

The Residences at Capital Crescent Trail

Capital Properties won't be a part of Montgomery County's plan to urbanize the Westbard area of Bethesda. The real estate firm has sold its Westbard Avenue property to Air Communities, leaving EYA as the only original developer to survive the bruising, seven-year battle with residents over the future of their community. Air Communities acquires the Residences at Capital Crescent Trail and two development sites that are zoned for up to 498 additional residential units under the 2016 Westbard sector plan. The firm says it won't develop those sites - currently parking lots behind and next to the building - itself, but seek out a third-party development partner.

The Capital Properties parcels have always had the highest density potential, as the firm had promised County officials it would make 25% of the units affordable. CP originally sought to construct 30-story towers on the two Westbard parcels, with up to 1000 units. Equity One also sought more units on its Westbard properties, but gave way to successor Regency Centers as a legal battle with residents played out in court.

One of the two redevelopment sites on the property
is the parking lot at bottom right in this photo
taken from a unit in the 
Residences at Capital Crescent Trail

After years of court hearings and protests, redevelopment at Westbard is going to be significantly lower-density than developers sought in 2014. Entire buildings were scrapped as Regency Centers sought a less-contentious plan that didn't require special exceptions - but also doesn't have to provide as many affordable units as a result.

Capital Properties didn't walk away a loser, however. It purchased the property it just sold to Air Communities for $29,000,000 in 2005. Sale price of that property to Air Communities earlier this month? $100,000,000, according to Maryland real estate records. Capital Properties once held all the cards at Westbard for seven years, but sold the rest of its "Westwood Complex" parcels at Westbard to Equity One in 2012.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Marriott International new Bethesda HQ update (Photos)

Work continues on the construction of the new Marriott International headquarters and Marriott Bethesda Downtown hotel at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, on the ground and in the air. The tower signage atop the south facade of the office tower is now complete, and is prominently visible from Arlington Road when entering downtown Bethesda from Little Falls Parkway. Sidewalks and plaza hardscaping continue to be installed, and work on the lobby is picking up steam. 

The plaza is expected to be completed by the first week of December, Marriott's development partners report. By the end of December, they expect the project to be substantially complete. Lights are now visible on the office floors in the tower. Furniture and finishes are being installed in the hotel's guest rooms, but signage atop the hotel is still missing.