Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Saul Centers moving forward with 10-building project on Rockville Pike (Photos)

Saul Centers is preparing to begin the process of redeveloping 18.36 acres of commercial property at 1500-1616 Rockville Pike. The mixed-use project is like a small city, consisting of 10 buildings of residential, office and retail use. It will directly abut the Pike, Halpine Road and the Metro/CSX tracks at the rear of the site. Saul won key concessions from the city after lobbying the Mayor and Council, which included deletion of a long-planned access road on the east side of the Pike.
Sketch plan of
Twinbrook Metro Place
The development will have its own road network, including extensions of Chapman Avenue and Congressional Lane, and a main road called Festival Street. This project will be only 150 feet from single-family homes in Twinbrook, and 600 feet from the entrance to the Twinbrook Metro station.

Notably, Saul is requesting a cap on the total number of vehicle trips generated by the project, rather than specific limits on the number of housing units, etc. The company says that will allow them flexibility for a project that will take a significant number of years to complete. Saul will also request a parking reduction, and designation as a "Rockville Champion Project," which will give them more flexibility on retail tenant spaces and signage restrictions. However, the developer is giving a rough estimate of what will be included in the development as follows: up to 1865 residential units, 431440 SF of office space, 472950 SF of retail (including shopping, dining and grocery store), a 9000 SF theater, and a 226-seat "cultural amenity" space.
1.1 acre Central Park shown
in upper right corner
A 1.1 acre "Central Park" is the dominant green space feature planned. An anchor building for the park will have two levels of dining, with dining terraces that overlook the park. Attorneys for the applicant say that this building will become "a destination for the entire City of Rockville." The park is expected to host regular events and activities.

Seven of the buildings will have elevated courtyards for residents and office workers to use. The residential buildings and office building fronting Rockville Pike are expected to have two levels of retail at their bases. All parking will be in garages, with a proposed total of 3900 parking spaces for all uses on the site.

The properties assembled by Saul for this project are: 1500 Rockville Pike, 1580 Rockville Pike, 1582 Rockville Pike, 1584 Rockville Pike, 1592 Rockville Pike, and 1616 Rockville Pike.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sign installed at Pandora Seafood House and Bar in Rockville (Photos)

The construction of Pandora Seafood House and Bar at Rockville Town Square has drug on for many months. Finally, the sign is in place on the front facade, however. The restaurant is expected to open by September.




Friday, August 18, 2017

3 arrested in Rockville armed robbery after squatters are found in vacant Fallsgrove apartment

Zackery Conrad Thompson
Rockville police have arrested three suspects in a Fallsgrove armed robbery, potentially ending a crime spree in that area. Officers responded to a report of an armed robbery around 4:30 PM on August 6, in the 700 block of Fallsgrove Boulevard. Upon arriving, the victim told them he and his child were walking near the footbridge along the trail near the Thomas Farm Community Center, when he was robbed of his wallet and phone at gunpoint by two individuals. The two suspects then fled toward the Fallsgrove Village Center.

Despite establishing a perimeter around the area, police were unable to locate the two suspects. On August 9, Fallsgrove apartment management staff entered a vacant apartment in the same block of Fallsgrove Boulevard. Inside, they startled 3 people squatting in the unit, who ran past them out the door and fled. Again, police were unable to locate any of the suspects, who had foolishly left behind evidence of the August 6 armed robbery.

A day later, Rockville officers detained 3 people after observing suspicious activity in the 100 block of Jersey Lane. They discovered a home on that block had just been robbed, and arrested the three.

Zackery Conrad Thompson, 19, of the 100 block of Brookes Avenue in Gaithersburg, was arrested and charged with one count of armed robbery and two counts of fourth-degree burglary. He is being held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center.
 
Charges are also pending against two additional juvenile subjects related to the robbery and trespassing.
 
Anyone with information about this subject or these incidents is asked to call the Rockville City Police Department's Criminal Investigations Unit at 240-314-8938.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Comment period extended for proposed East Rockville asphalt crushing plant

The public will have an additional 60 days to comment on the proposed M. Luis Company asphalt crushing and screening plant at 14900 Old Dover Road in Rockville. This comment period will close on October 6, 2017.

Comments may be sent by U.S. Mail to Maryland Department of the Environment, Air Quality Permits Program, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 720, Baltimore, MD 21230-1720 or emailed to shannon.heafy@maryland.gov.

If you were unable to attend the July 19 public hearing, and have questions beyond what is covered in that report or my previous report, a docket with full information on the project is available for review at the Rockville Memorial Library in Rockville Town Square.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Addie's sets opening date at Park Potomac

Addie's Restaurant will open Tuesday, August 22 at Park Potomac. Although the new iteration won't be in an actual house like the original Rockville Pike location, chef-owner Jeff Black has tried to make his ground floor space at 12435 Park Potomac Avenue to be "as welcoming as Grandma Addie's home," in homage to the namesake and inspiration for the restaurant. There is a "living room," a "dining room," a bookshelf-lined "den," and for a lucky few, a six-seat oyster bar.

As I previously reported, Addie's Mussels and Addie's Rolls are back on the menu, along with a customizable Seafood Tower with a broad array of selections from ponzo marinated uni to old standbys like Addie's premium raw oysters.

Addie's will take reservations, and serve dinner seven nights a week, brunch on weekends and lunch every weekday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ride On Extra buses will be free during October

Two of the alternatives to the proposed boondoggle of Bus Rapid Transit in Montgomery County - express buses and free Ride On fares - will be realized on a very limited basis in October: A new express bus service called Ride On Extra will begin service along MD 355, and fares on Ride On Extra will be free that month. Service will run between Gaithersburg and Medical Center station in Bethesda.

The buses are a lite version of BRT, with similar features like low-floor boarding, 10-minute peak rush hour headways, and free Wi-Fi, but will not take travel lanes along Rockville Pike from cars (as BRT will). Ride On Extra buses will also have traffic signal priority, but the County has never addressed how that random impact on traffic signals will affect the synchronization of lights up and down the Pike. It could cause major rush hour delays on an already-jammed road.

There's no mention of how much the month of free service will cost taxpayers, either. Ride On Extra stops will include Lakeforest Transit Center, Summit Ave., Westland Dr., Shady Grove Metro, Montgomery College, Rockville Metro, Edmonston Dr., Halpine Rd., Marinelli Rd., Security Ln., Tuckerman Ln., and Medical Center. There will be new bus shelters and bus stop flag signs to identify Ride On Extra bus stops.

Monday, August 14, 2017

MoCo Council Spanish radio program discusses...federal immigration issue?

A taxpayer-funded Spanish-language radio propaganda program used to promote Montgomery County Council incumbents to the Latino community was an even-greater waste of taxpayer funds this past Friday. En Sintonía con el Concejo del Conado de Montgomery is said to be a program that "talks about important issues before the Council." But the most recent program topic was on a federal immigration law decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, which extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) eligibility for some immigrants.

This issue is not before the Council, and surely is being discussed on other programs on WACA-AM and other Spanish language radio stations in the area. Instead the Council used taxpayer money to comment on national politics, a complete abuse of the system. The main guest was a representative of CASA de Maryland, which is one of the largest benefactors of Montgomery County taxpayer funds, and biggest political backers of the County Council.

No political challengers to the Council - Democrat, Republican, or Green - have ever been allowed to appear on this taxpayer-funded program, a violation of the FCC rules on equal time. The payment of taxpayer funds to WACA also raises serious ethical issues, as WACA provides news coverage of the County Council that is paying them.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fleming's Ultimate Garage displays classic Mustang, Porsche at Park Potomac

Fleming's Ultimate Garage has been out-of-sight, out-of-mind for many in the general public since its move to a less-visible location on Lofstrand Lane from heavily-traveled Rockville Pike. The classic car restorer and dealer is generating some publicity with a display at Park Potomac, featuring a classic Mustang and newer Porsche.







Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rockville construction update: Metropolitan at Rockville Town Center apartments (Photos)

Kettler's Rockville Town Center Phase II development, the Metropolitan at Rockville Town Center, is starting to look more like a residential building now that the real exterior facades are visible instead of the white Tyvek. There's still plenty of Tyvek on the building, especially on the Beall Avenue side.
275 apartments will range from one-bedroom lofts to three bedrooms on the former site of the historic Suburban Trust Building. Amenities will include a fitness center, a yoga room, a pet grooming station, bike storage, two courtyards with outdoor grills, a swimming pool, and a two-story entertainment lounge and terrace. The building is located at 255 N. Washington Street.
 






Wednesday, August 9, 2017

155' telecommunications tower proposed for Derwood Road

NB+C, an Elkridge, Maryland-based wireless site development firm, is proposing to erect a 155' monopole telecommunications tower "near Derwood Road" in Derwood. There are quite a few homes around that immediate area, but the announcement does not identify the specific spot the 15-story-tall tower will be placed.

The tower will be in a historic area of Derwood, and the public may comment on its impact on any nearby historic sites by writing to Environmental Corporation of America, ATTN: Dina Bazzill, 1375 Union Hill Industrial Court, Suite A, Alpharetta, Georgia 30004. You can also call her at 770-667-2040, ext. 111.

An environmental review may be requested from the FCC, as well. You must identify the specific environmental impacts you believe the tower will have when filing under the FCC "Pleadings System" at FCC.gov.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fredericksburg office market is hot, moribund MoCo's is not

Fredericksburg is a boom town compared to moribund Montgomery County. While our County Council is fighting any attempt to build the roads necessary to jumpstart our lethargic private sector economy, and only talks about increasing MARC rail capacity and a White Flint station, Virginia is building Express Lanes down to Stafford County and more Virginia Railway Express stops and extensions. Along with the business-friendly policies of Virginia and Spotsylvania County, Fredericksburg is booming, while Montgomery County has suffered a net loss of jobs over the last decade, and a loss of over 2000 jobs in retail alone since 2000.

The latest evidence of the difference in business climate is the Liberty Place project in downtown Fredericksburg. Once conceived of as luxury condos, the project will now be an 86000 SF office building with ground floor retail and restaurants facing William Street. "We're responding to the market," Liberty Place developer Tom Wack told The Free Lance-Star of Frederickburg, which noted the "strong demand for commercial property" in the city. The developers will offer free parking for the public in a garage connected to the office building (imagine that in any urban center of Montgomery County!) as part of a deal with the city.

The Fredericksburg City Council is set to vote on a memorandum of understanding for the deal tonight. Very few office projects are being developed in Montgomery County. The JBG Companies is constructing a new office building on Bethesda Avenue, but could not find an anchor tenant, and will now move its own headquarters into the building from down the road in Friendship Heights to fill the vacancy.

"Downtown's gotten pretty hot," Wack said of Fredericksburg. The office market is heating up as home construction continues to explode around Fredericksburg, which recently scored the idX Corporation factory that fled Maryland and the Lidl distribution center with 200 jobs (Virginia also won the sweepstakes for the Lidl corporate headquarters).

Every imaginable restaurant can be found in Fredericksburg, as well as the kind of hip breweries our County Council likes to talk about. Stafford and Spotsylvania counties are adding the jobs that will put less cars on the roads into D.C. every morning. And new infrastructure to reduce congestion for the commuters and businesses who make the increasingly-smart choice to locate in the Fredericksburg area.

Meanwhile, the bedroom-community-building Montgomery County Council is - as usual - asleep at the switch.

La Limeña Grill to open this week in Rockville (Photos)

It's been a longer road to opening day than expected, but La Limeña Grill is finally reaching the finish line at 1093 Rockville Pike. Owner Emma Perez was on-site Sunday, and said the restaurant would likely open Wednesday, August 9. If you're passing by today, it wouldn't hurt to check in case they open earlier.

As you can see, the dining room looks great. The Peruvian restaurant is in the former Potomac Grill space.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Acquitted Rockville HS rape suspect thinks he can get a green card

Jose Montano, the supposedly-17-year-old illegal immigrant who was charged in the Rockville High School rape case last spring, has plead guilty to a child pornography charge related to the incident, according to the Washington Post. Montano and a second suspect in the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old female student, Henry Sanchez, were charged with possessing photos and video of the victim after Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy made the bizarre declaration that he would not prosecute either man on rape charges.

"Only a fraction of the offenders are punished." 
- Barack Obama, 2014

McCarthy never provided any tangible evidence to support his assertion that he could not pursue the rape case, never addressed the substantial volume of forensic evidence detectives stated they had collected in the school bathroom where the alleged attack took place, and never stated that the victim had recanted her original account to police. The victim was thrown under the bus by County officials, who joined local media in a round of unprecedented victim-shaming, summing up their version of the case as, "she was asking for it."

"It’s there when you’re forced to sit in the same class or stay in the same dorm with the person who raped you; when people are more suspicious of what you were wearing or what you were drinking, as if it’s your fault, not the fault of the person who assaulted you."
- Barack Obama, 2014

The fact is, not a shred of evidence has been proffered by anyone that proves a gang rape did not occur, nor that the victim is no longer seeking justice in her case. Notably, the victim was never charged with filing a false report. County officials never even stated if they had verified the two men are actually the ages they claim to be - yet both may have avoided prosecution on statutory rape as a result. As it is, they skated on statutory rape charges thanks to the dirty old men who serve in the Maryland General Assembly, who have made the law such that a college student can now have legal sex with a 14-year-old. Sick.

"Understand that if someone does not or cannot consent to sex, it's rape.
Never blame the victim."
- Barack Obama, 2014 

Eager to capitalize on anti-Trump feelings in Montgomery County for sympathy, Montano's attorneys allowed Post reporter Dan Morse to observe the proceedings Friday in Montgomery County Juvenile Court. What's perhaps as troubling as the evidence-free acquittal, are the suggestions by Montano's attorney that the judge "may ultimately release Montano to his relatives," and that "he has a chance to get a green card."

Let's recap here: Two grown men sneak into United States. Are intercepted by Border Patrol. Should be sent back, but because of Obama-era policy, are instead allowed to live with relatives until a court hearing can be held in a backlogged court. Incredibly, both men enroll as "freshmen" at Rockville HS. They proceed to either gang rape, or have consensual sex with, a 14-year-old "classmate" in a school bathroom. The girl immediately reports she has been raped to the police. McCarthy announces he won't prosecute either man. Both men now believe...they should be given residency status?

Hell, no.

Release Montano to relatives? Hell, no.

Both of these men have ICE detainers on them, and should be deported immediately. Montano has his next hearing August 16; Sanchez is due in court on his own porn charges October 30. If both men are not greeted shortly after their hearings by ICE agents with restraining devices, Montgomery County officials should be held fully responsible.

According to the Post report, Montano's attorney David Wooten says Montano now knows he "needs to respect girls more." Just makes you want to give this sensitive clown a green card, right?

Get him the hell out.

The only thing as shocking as the outcome of the rape case, and the delusions of the two aliens in custody, is the absence of outrage by advocates for rape victims in the County and region about the total lack of transparency in this case. Nobody gave a damn about this girl. Montgomery County officials who have declared the two men innocent aren't facing questions or criticism, much less the recall effort facing the judge in the infamous Stanford rape case.

"It’s a haunting presence when the very people entrusted with your welfare fail to protect you."

- Barack Obama, 2014

This is interesting, instructive, and again illuminates that Montgomery County officials - and their political allies - are held above the law. Both the Montgomery County Council and the Bell, California City Council raised their own salaries to obscene levels, while raising taxes on their constituents to record levels. Both councils also slammed their constituents with millions of dollars in highly-suspect and capricious traffic tickets.

Bell's Council is in prison. Montgomery County's Council is running for reelection.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Construction update: Pandora Seafood House and Bar

We still can't see the construction progress inside Pandora Seafood House, but another permit has appeared. This is a public improvement permit. Pandora already requested a liquor license, and their hearing is scheduled for August 17. Pandora will be located at 36-A Maryland Avenue, at Rockville Town Square.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

MoCo has the Lockheed HQ, but didn't try to get the Lockheed "factory of the future"

"We don't need the Lockheed headquarters," Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen infamously declared at the Aspen Hill Library in 2010. Such a blase attitude about one of only 3 Fortune 500 headquarters in the County is indicative of why our private sector economy has been moribund for so many years. MoCo intentionally passed on the FBI headquarters; didn't even bother to pursue the idX factory that wound up going to Fredericksburg; and was soundly defeated by Virginia in the contests to woo the headquarters of Volkswagen, Hilton Hotels, Intelsat, Corporate Executive Board, and Lidl, to name just a few. As a result, we've suffered a net loss in jobs over the last decade.

Yesterday, we found out just how blase County officials' attitude toward Lockheed Martin was. While current elected officials inherited the Lockheed headquarters in Bethesda, they apparently have no ongoing dialogue or partnership with the defense and aerospace megafirm. In fact, they've even tried their best to push Lockheed out of the County. As a result, Lockheed is now building a $350 million, 266000 SF "satellite factory of the future" in Waterton Canyon, Colorado, not Montgomery County.

We have many, many vacant properties that could have easily accommodated this factory. Even the recently sold Comsat Building in Clarksburg and former IBM property in Gaithersburg could have been a good fit in terms of size. Montgomery County continues to have the potential aerospace advantages of being near Goddard Flight Center, the Wallops Island launch facility, and numerous airbases as well as the Pentagon - but has yet to take advantage of the advantages!

This is exactly the type of facility I've been arguing we need - aerospace corporate offices, research facilities and high-tech aerospace and defense manufacturing. Why were we not in the running for this factory, or even engaging Lockheed about how we could partner on future ventures? This was clearly in the planning stages early enough that we could have filled the Comsat or IBM site before they were sold. That could have put hundreds of high-wage jobs in the I-270 corridor, and enable Montgomery County residents to drive west or north to work, without leaving the County. Instead, the Comsat site will be residential, and dump hundreds more cars going south on 270 every morning.

Montgomery County is notorious across the country, and across the region, for its anti-business climate fostered by the County Council. In contrast, "State and local officials in Colorado have helped strengthen the aerospace industry and foster an environment that helps aerospace companies thrive and grow," according to a statement from Lockheed Wednesday. What a contrast. What a loss.

It takes a special kind of incompetence to get shut out by a company located in your own jurisdiction. A special kind of ignoramus, to not grab the lowest-hanging economic development fruit in the area you are elected to represent. It's "business"-as-usual for moribund Montgomery County.

First look: Gringos & Mariachis nears opening at Park Potomac (Photos)

The second location of Gringos & Mariachis at Park Potomac is nearing the finish line. This one has the benefit of a custom-designed exterior, and an outdoor bar/counter similar to the one at Owen's Ordinary at Pike & Rose. There's no official opening date yet, but the owners say "the wait is almost over." Here's a sneak peek: