Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rockville construction update: CAVA at Montrose Crossing (Photos)

CAVA will be opening early this year at Montrose Crossing, at 12037 Rockville Pike. There's still a ways to go here, as you can see. Neighbor Honeygrow in this new building at the property is now open.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Town Square Jewelers still open during renovations

Don't let the plywood over the front of Town Square Jewelers fool you; the store is still open. The Rockville Town Square jewelry store is just undergoing renovations.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Golf Galaxy closes in Rockville (Photos)

Golf Galaxy has closed in the Montrose Crossing shopping center. The golf "superstore" sold golf equipment, offered repairs and accessories, and had on-site instructional programs and driving range/putting green facilities with a PGA professional.

The last few years have been a mixed bag for the chain, which is owned by Dick's Sporting Goods. On the one hand, up to two-thirds of Golf Galaxy's locations were expected to close four years ago, locations the company termed "low-performing." Yet just last year, Golf Galaxy opened 36 new stores across 16 states.

Their Montrose Crossing space is now available for lease, according to a sign in the window.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Daley to add a beer & wine store, dry cleaners, nail salon to Rockville property

Residents of The Daley at Shady Grove Metro apartments will soon have a suite of new on-site perks. Westside Beer & Wine, Inspire Nail & Spa and Fashion Cleaners will all open on the property's ground floor this year.

Inspire will be first to open early this Spring. Upscale craft beer & wine retailer Westside will be next in the summer. Expect Fashion Cleaners to also open this summer; the dry cleaners is locally-owned.

Tenants of the Bozzuto-EYA building already have an on-site Starbucks. The developers said in a statement Thursday that they have several additional retail tenants on the way, in addition to delivery of the townhouse portion of the Westside development adjacent to The Daley later this year.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

UNIQLO to open store at Pike & Rose this fall

Global apparel brand UNIQLO will open a store at Federal Realty's Pike & Rose development this fall. This will be the retailer's first Maryland location, and its third in the D.C. Metro region. The 8000 SF store will be one of many new additions to the property this year, including the soon-to-open Canopy by Hilton hotel. It will be located at 11853 Grand Park Avenue.

Japan-based UNIQLO opened its first store in Hiroshima in 1984. As of today, it has more than 1900 stores in 19 markets around the world, including Japan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S.

The Pike & Rose location will offer jeans made from authentic Japanese Kaihara denim, extra fine merino sweaters, and some of UNIQLO's fabric innovation lines like LifeWear, Ultra Light Down and the quick-dry/anti-odor AIRism. Apparel will be offered for men, women and children.

“Pike & Rose has quickly become the retail destination for the Montgomery County community,” Federal Realty’s Vice President of Leasing Stuart Biel said in a statement this morning. “We look forward to offering the internationally popular UNIQLO brand to the Pike & Rose neighborhood, its first location in Maryland.”

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Kuya Ja's Lechon Belly to open at White Flint Plaza this Spring

Kuya Ja's Lechon Belly has been serving Filipino specialties at a pop-up location inside Gwenie's Desserts at 12113 Nebel Street. Now the owner is gearing up to launch a stand-alone restaurant in White Flint Plaza this Spring. According to the owner, the current pop-up will only continue for a few more weeks, before changing over to the new carryout restaurant. The restaurant will be at 5268-H Nicholson Lane.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sherwin Williams to open new Rockville location

Sherwin Williams will open a new paint store location in Rockville this year. They have leased a 3200 SF space at 15215 Shady Grove Road, which has been home to Bank of America. Sherwin Williams has two existing stores in the Rockville area: one in Twinbrook, and another in Loehmann's Plaza.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Pour Vino n Hops coming to Rockville Town Center

Pour Vino n Hops will be the newest ground floor retail tenant at The Upton apartments at 44 Maryland Avenue in Rockville Town Center. This will be the second beer-and-wine based business at the Duball, LLC-developed property. World of Beer is around the corner facing "Regal Row." Pour Vino n Hops will be serving craft beer and wine, in addition to selling it.

Friday, January 19, 2018

MoCo Council asking Annapolis for eminent domain-on-steroids land grab power

For the third time in this term of office, the Montgomery County Council is trying to quietly ram a major change in the law through behind closed doors in Annapolis. In 2015, they tried to establish an Independent Transit Authority with unlimited taxation and debt power, and in 2017, they attempted a backdoor runaround the term limits voters had approved only months prior. This morning, they are exhorting the Montgomery County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to expand and increase their eminent domain authority.

The bill, like the others, is being filed at the eleventh hour, and with no fanfare. Bill MC 27-18, "Eminent Domain - Expansion of 'Quick Take' Authority," would streamline the property seizure process related to highway and transit projects. For example, it would eliminate the ability to compare a property to similar pieces of land for the purpose of determining fair market value. The Council would also be able to force residents out of homes, and businesspeople out of commercial properties immediately, as long as they make an immediate payment of that potentially less-than-actual market value to the landowner.

Purple Line opponents suspect the law may be used in short order for eminent domain seizures related to that light rail project. That would fit the "heckuva rush" manner in which it is being put forward in Annapolis.

But looking ahead, this law would be equally handy in the quick demolition of more than 150 homes and businesses along Georgia Avenue between Olney and Wheaton, for the planned BRT route there. We know that from a state analysis, but we don't have similar numbers yet for which properties would end up being seized for BRT along MD 355 and Route 29. How might this also be used in the Veirs Mill Corridor sector plan, which is about to begin the process of approval before the Montgomery County Planning Board? Land seizures along Veirs Mill have been strongly hinted at by planners.

The late-filed bill will be introduced at the 9:30 AM session of the Montgomery County Delegation this morning. If the bill receives the necessary votes to advance, a public hearing will be scheduled. One question will be: will that hearing be held in Rockville, or Annapolis?

It's no wonder they held this bill from you, despite planning it for months, and are now attempting to file it quietly at the last minute!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Theft from auto in Rockville leads to credit card spending spree (Video+Photo)

Here's another example of why you should never leave valuables in your car. And why you should...lock your doors. It sounds elementary, but one victim failed to do so in Rockville, and police say her credit card ended up being used in a 7-Eleven spending spree.

Detectives say that the victim parked her car overnight outside a home in the 4200 block of Flower Valley Drive on December 11, leaving her car unlocked. When she came out the next morning, she found thieves had ransacked the interior, stealing several items, including a credit card.

Police say those alleged thieves used that card at the 7-Eleven on Professional Drive in Gaithersburg, at approximately 4:30 AM on December 12. In the process, they were captured on the store's surveillance cameras (although, strangely, the video timestamp does not match the time police say they were at the store).

It is suspected that there may be more victims from this pair of thieves. Anyone with information regarding these suspects is asked to call the 4th District Patrol Investigations Unit at 240-773-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided that leads to an arrest in this case.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Public meeting tonight on new Rockville assisted living development

A public meeting will be held tonight, Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 6:30 PM at the King Farm Community Center, located at 300 Saddle Ridge Circle. It will be an informational meeting regarding a proposed 155-unit assisted living facility at the northwest corner of West Gude Drive and Frederick Road (MD 355).

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rockville officials consider allowing voting by mail

Rockville's Mayor and Council are considering a recommendation by the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections to allow residents to vote in city elections by mail. A public hearing on the proposal will be held on Monday, February 5, 2018 at 7:00 PM. Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing should call 240-314-8280 before 4:00 PM on February 5.

Only 15.87% of voters participated in the last city election in 2015, and that number has steadily declined over several consecutive elections. Some believe that mailing ballots to voters will increase participation.

Voters would sign an affidavit on the outside of the mailing envelope, which would have a trackable bar code on it, and then mail it back. Ballots could also be dropped off in-person. Switching to voting-by-mail could eliminate the costs of personnel and voting machines during elections.

Considering how many pieces of mail get lost, I would hesitate to vote by mail myself, out of concern that my vote would wind up in somebody else's house, or in the gutter (both have actually happened to me). I would probably return it in-person to make sure my vote counted.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Chelsea Manning to take on Ben Cardin in Maryland U.S. Senate Democratic primary

North Bethesda resident
would be first
transgender member of

What should have been a sleepy stagger over the finish line for Senator Ben Cardin (D - Maryland) has turned into a battle royale with national implications overnight. The Maryland Democratic political machine and Republicans alike melted down upon hearing Red Maryland report that Chelsea Manning has entered the race. Manning, a North Bethesda resident, is best known for her role in providing damaging information about U.S. actions and operations during the Iraq War to Wikileaks in 2010. She was serving as an Army intelligence analyst deployed to Iraq at the time.
Incumbent U.S. Senator
Ben Cardin (D-Maryland)
Cardin has essentially ignored Manning's announcement so far. He will have plenty of money, and remains very popular among Democrats, despite having no notable legislative achievements. Manning is making a clear appeal to progressives, in a state where the Democratic party's progressive wing is growing restless with the throwback leadership of their establishment. At the same time, many in both parties consider her a traitor whose actions disqualify her from office.

Manning can capitalize on national attention and money. The victory of Danica Roem in Virginia last November showed just how much national money was out there for a minor state legislative race. Manning would be the first transgender U.S. Senator, if elected. That's a strong selling point, when 2018 is expected to be another Year of the Woman in politics.

A campaign video and fundraising page have been posted by Manning's campaign in the last 24 hours.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Historic District Commission to decide if barn in Rockville's West End Park can be demolished

A barn believed to date from at least the early 20th century is holding up approval of demolition of all structures at 537 Anderson Avenue in Rockville. Examining the request in November, the Historic District Commission determined the home and an additional rental home on the site have no historic significance. However, the barn was a sticking point for commissioners, as little information is available on its history, and it is a unique structure in the city of Rockville these days.

City staff has consulted with Peerless Rockville and others with historical expertise, but has so far been unable to obtain much more information about the history and significance of the barn. They hope to have found more information by the time commissioners take the matter up again at their January 18, 2018 meeting, which will be held at 7:30 PM at City Hall (and will be televised on Channel 11 for cable tv viewers).

Photo via City of Rockville

Thursday, January 11, 2018

European Wax Center coming to Rockville (Photos)

European Wax Center, a major hair removal salon chain founded in 1975, will open a new location in Rockville early this year. It will be located in Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. The company already has a Bethesda location. At Congressional, European Wax Center will be next to Smoothie King, and is scheduled to open by spring.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Discovery move is all about why Knoxville beats MoCo in business climate

Discovery Communications is moving from Silver Spring to New York City because it is a content company? Not quite. Unless you believe they film their Shark Week programs in giant water tanks on the seventh floor of their Silver Spring headquarters - as many embarrassed Montgomery County elected officials apparently do. Put aside the spin in Discovery's press release, and carefully study their public statements to media yesterday, and you'll find the real story here is A) why Knoxville has a better business climate than Montgomery County, and B) the big Discovery "move" may actually be a big layoff of extraneous workers, as the company merges with Scripps.

The County's spin, of course, is that there "was nothing Montgomery County could do to retain Discovery." Discovery is a content company! They need to be near other content and advertising companies in New York! Aren't taxes terrible in New York City? Isn't the cost of living even higher in New York City?

Ah - but there's the key point. Discovery's move isn't about New York in the end. Analyze Discovery's public statements, and you find there's no certainty as to how many jobs are going to New York City. Some key high-level positions had already been moved to Discovery's current New York base of operations. Some positions at Scripps in Knoxville will also be moved to New York in 2019.

Scripps already has over 1000 employees in Knoxville doing a lot of the business and administrative jobs that many Discovery employees are doing now in Silver Spring. Again, read Discovery's statements carefully - they don't mention x-number of jobs moving from Silver Spring to Knoxville (or to New York). It could be that Montgomery County not only suffers the shame of losing one of its few Fortune 500 companies, but almost certainly also winds up with hundreds of unemployed Discovery workers as a result. Knoxville will gain all of the jobs Discovery needs from Silver Spring, but not likely all 1300.

Knoxville has everything Montgomery County's elected officials keep telling us we don't need - lower taxes, suburban living, and highway infrastructure. Discovery's press release noted "infrastructure" as a key reason they chose Knoxville. It's very easy to see why:
Discovery's new HQ in
Knoxville is right at an
interchange with I-40
The new Discovery campus in Knoxville is right on Interstate 40, a major cross-country route from California to North Carolina. In fact, they've got an on-ramp right next to them.
Discovery's new Knoxville HQ
is only 18 minutes by car from
the airport
Discovery's future Knoxville campus is also only 18 minutes by car from McGhee-Tyson Airport. Try getting to an airport in 18 minutes from Montgomery County (Hint: You can't).

Tennessee has no income tax. Property taxes are about half of what they are in Montgomery County, even on a million-dollar home. The Volunteer State's sales tax rate is 7%. There is no estate tax, and after a recent change in Tennessee's tax law, the "Hall Tax" on interest and dividend income is being phased out by 2021. The latter change is simply the capstone on why Tennessee's tax structure is so business (and worker) friendly. Robin Ficker was absolutely correct yesterday when he cited taxes as a factor in the Discovery move.

When you consider that neither Discovery, nor New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, cited any specific number of jobs moving to New York yesterday, the picture becomes more clear. Some key positions may well move to New York, and Cuomo and Mayor Bill Blasio can celebrate winning the "global headquarters."

But Discovery is the real winner here. By moving the real nuts-and-bolts of their company to Knoxville, they and their employees (however many actually get moved) will both save bigly on their annual tax bills. Significant layoffs that would have been bad publicity for the company in Silver Spring now get hidden and deodorized by a "big move" and merger.

Montgomery County, as usual, is the real loser. Not only has no major corporation relocated its headquarters here in twenty years, but now we've lost one of the few Fortune 500 companies we had.  We've lost the taxes Discovery and many of their employees paid.

This is a major financial blow to Silver Spring, as well. Residential buildings continue to replace workplaces in downtown Silver Spring at a rapid pace. There are now fewer workers eating lunch at restaurants as a result. Residents of new apartment buildings in Silver Spring are dining out for lunch in downtown Washington, Tysons, and other growing job centers in Northern Virginia. Turning the Discovery HQ into an apartment building won't help matters.
Discovery's new low-rise,
suburban office park campus
in Knoxville (Google Maps)
If you look at the new Discovery national headquarters campus in Knoxville, it's just that - a suburban office park campus. Nearby are roads and commercial strips that look like Rockville or Gaithersburg. Much like Apple, Google and other successful corporations, Discovery has traded urban for suburban.
It looks more like Rock Spring
than downtown Bethesda -
adjacent water bodies included
Just beyond either side of the suburban commercial area where Discovery will be are single-family home neighborhoods along tree-lined streets. Sure, certain companies are willing to take a financial hit to be "downtown" on a transit station. Discovery obviously isn't one of them, and neither is Apple or Google. Montgomery County's office parks aren't the problem - it's our anti-business County Council, taxes and gridlocked transportation system that are the problems.
Single-family homes on
tree-lined streets near the
new Discovery HQ in
Knoxville (Google Maps)

Montgomery County can lower its taxes. After throwing record amounts of money at Montgomery County Public Schools in recent years, and the results only getting worse by the year, we know spending money is not the solution to the decline in our public schools. Wasteful spending was epitomized last year by the Council spending over $20000 on a security camera system I was able to find for less than $1000 online - including installation. Imagine how many other un-itemized expenditures like this one there are in the operating and capital budgets, and the potential for cuts becomes crystal clear.

Attempts to blame Gov. Larry Hogan for the Discovery debacle only open the door to blaming our County Council for the loss. "The first County Council to lose a Fortune 500" certainly has a nice ring to it. When apologists say, "We were going to lose Discovery no matter what the incentive package was," they are actually correct. Without a business-friendly tax system, without a new Potomac River crossing to provide an 18-minute trip to the airport, without a functioning and complete master plan highway system, and without elected officials who understand international business in the 21st century, Montgomery County is always going to be the loser.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

AT&T Mobility to open at Montrose Crossing

AT&T Mobility will open in the
storefront at far right at
Montrose Crossing
AT&T Mobility is the latest tenant to sign on at the new addition to Montrose Crossing. The store will join CAVA Grill, Pieology, Five Guys, Honeygrow, and Allure in the building that replaced Timpano Italian Chophouse. Montrose Crossing is at the interchange of Montrose Parkway and Rockville Pike.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Marijuana dispensary coming to Rockville (Photos)

A medical marijuana dispensary is coming to Rockville. Peake ReLeaf will open this year at 2001 Chapman Avenue in Twinbrook, right near Twinbrook Parkway. Patients can already begin the process of registering via their website. It looks like there's still a ways to go on the build-out of the interior.

Peake ReLeaf's founders are Maryland natives. Some are lifelong residents, while others have moved to Colorado in recent years to gain experience from their medical marijuana system. The company says they will bring that hands-on experience back to Rockville to the benefit of customers here, where many other Maryland dispensaries are new to the industry.

The dispensary will be next to Urban BBQ.

Friday, January 5, 2018

MoCo Council's war on the homeless spreads across the pond

The Montgomery County Council's war on the homeless, including a proposal to ban panhandling, appears to be contagious. A British official is demanding the Thames Valley police remove homeless people from the streets before the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, scheduled to take place on May 19 at Windsor Castle.

Our County Council has set a similar deadline. Claiming they will end homelessness by housing every single homeless person by December of this year, they conveniently are seeking to pass laws criminalizing homelessness, in an apparent scheme to drive the homeless away - - to make it appear they were successful.

But what's so interesting about the British case, is that Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council leader Simon Dudley's talking points are almost identical to those of our Montgomery County Council. "A large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless," Dudley wrote to police, "and if they are homeless they are choosing to reject all support services ... In the case of homelessness amongst this group, it is therefore a voluntary choice.”

The Montgomery County Council, during their last attempt to pass the panhandling law, claimed that the homeless asking for money in Montgomery County are actually "professional panhandlers" who travel here from outside the County each day. They provided no evidence to support their claim. A national non-profit organization condemned the County's proposal at that time, writing that the Council was trying to "criminalize homelessness."

Similarly, homeless advocates in Windsor blasted Dudley for his claims. “For someone to ask for loose change, your self-esteem is at its lowest," Murphy James of the Windsor Homelessness Project told The Guardian. "No one does this from choice. We shouldn’t be demonising these people, but asking them what we can do to help.”

A public hearing will be held on the panhandling ban on January 30 at 1:30 PM at the County Council Office Building.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Rockville construction update: The Halal Guys (Photos)

The Halal Guys at 891-A Rockville Pike in Wintergreen Plaza looks pretty close to opening. Not only is the permanent sign now up outside, but the tables and chairs are already in place in the dining area inside. The popular gyro and chicken chain is also readying a downtown Bethesda location.