Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Want to buy a Chinese supermarket?

Are you in the market for a Chinese supermarket? Here's the opportunity for you. The shuttered Meixin Supermarket at 460 Hungerford Drive is now for sale.






Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Wegmans opening Rockville store

B.F. Saul has scored as big an anchor tenant as you can get for their Twinbrook Quarter development. Wegmans has signed on, and their store will be at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, according to a statement from Saul Centers.
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This will be a major vehicle and foot traffic generator for the future development, but also is a big blow to Lerner's plans for the White Flint Mall property down the Pike. Wegmans was about the only thing that could have given them an advantage in the future megaretail battles along the Pike. Even if they get Amazon, that doesn't guarantee retail traffic and success.

Image via Saul Centers

The Block Asian food hall to open Pike & Rose location

Here's a story I've been working on for months, but I've finally gotten confirmation today from Federal Realty that Northern Virginia Asian food hall The Block will indeed be opening a Pike & Rose location. The 8500 SF location will be under Pinstripes, at 967 Rose Avenue.

Confirmed vendors so far include Taiwanese Snocream and Pokeworks, which specializes in Hawaiian poke bowls.

The Block is scheduled to open in 2019. It will be the third Asian food hall to open in Rockville in the next year.


Monday, April 23, 2018

More townhomes proposed for King Farm

A developer is proposing to build 65 more townhomes in King Farm, on lots at 1503 Piccard Drive and 801 King Farm Boulevard. No filing has been made yet with the city, but a required public meeting for the project will be held this Thursday, April 26, 2018 at the King Farm Saddle Ridge Community Center at 300 Saddle Ridge Circle at 7:30 PM.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Xi'an Gourmet opens in Rockville

Xi'an Gourmet has opened at 316 N. Washington Street in Rockville. Featuring cuisine from the Northwestern region of China, the restaurant takes over the former Fusion Supper Club space.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

MDOT meeting on Hogan Express Lanes plan for I-495, I-270 tonight in Bethesda

The Maryland Department of Transportation held a public meeting last night in Clarksburg to introduce basic information about Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes proposal for I-495 and I-270, and get preliminary feedback from attendees. An identical open house will be held tonight, Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 6:30-8:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

Officials said future meetings will offer more specifics on alternatives, as well as environmental and property issues. Another public meeting will be held this year, and a public hearing on the environmental impact statement in 2019. MDOT anticipates a final Record of Decision on the project in 2020.

Hogan is aiming for an expedited design and approval process for the project, which will largely be built through private funds, costing taxpayers very little. Among the private firms who have already joined the Express Lanes team are Ernst & Young and CDM Smith.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Business groups to hold MoCo Democratic county executive debate April 27

Several Montgomery County and regional business groups will host a debate between Democratic candidates for County Executive on Friday, April 27, 2018 from 8:00-10:30 AM at The Universities at Shady Grove. Republican Robin Ficker is also running for the office, but has not been invited to participate. Attendees will also receive a presentation on County economic indicators from Anirban Basu (pictured) of the Sage Policy Group.

The event is free, but you need to register online in advance.

MoCo Council proposes taxpayer-funded lawyers for illegal immigrants facing deportation

Illegal immigrants
convicted of murder,
rape would be eligible
for taxpayer-funded
lawyers if they have 
a "potentially 
meritorious" case

The Montgomery County Council has introduced a "special appropriation" of $373,957 to fund free lawyers for illegal immigrants facing deportation. County Councilmember Nancy Navarro said she was proud that the Council would use taxpayer funds to defend illegal immigrants from deportation, adding that Tuesday's proposal "doubled down on our commitment to protect our immigrant community."

While the Council resolution claims in one section that illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes such as murder and rape would not be eligible for the taxpayer-funded legal assistance, that claim is negated by later wording.

On Page 3 of the resolution, the text notes that illegal immigrants convicted of murder, rape, sexual offenses, armed carjacking, kidnapping, child kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse, gang participation, human trafficking and "abducting a child under 16 for prostitution" would be eligible for taxpayer-funded legal counsel if "the individual has a potentially meritorious claim for immigration relief from removal in the form of a claim to United States citizenship, protection under the Convention Against Torture, U/T Visa, or Refugee Adjustment."

A public hearing on the appropriation will be held on May 1 at the County Council Building, located at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The County is currently facing a budget shortfall of $208,000,000.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Humiliating: Montgomery County loses another one

Gerber to move
New Jersey HQ to
Rosslyn

The Gerber baby is the latest to hand the Montgomery County Council their [briefcases] in our newest loss to Northern Virginia in the economic development sphere. 1812 North Moore in Rosslyn will be the new address for the baby food giant's world headquarters, bringing 150 more good jobs to Virginia. Gerber has leased 23392 SF of office space at the gleaming new office building.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the Commonwealth's latest defeat of Montgomery County "reaffirms that Virginia is a prime location for headquarters operations." Gerber joins Northrop Grumman, Hilton Hotels, Volkswagen, Corporate Executive Board, Nestle and Intelsat in Northern Virginia's economic development trophy case. And those are just the ones in recent years - Montgomery County, by contrast, hasn't attracted a single major corporate HQ in two decades, a humiliating comparison.
“Gaining the headquarters of the iconic Gerber brand is an important win for Arlington County and the Commonwealth, and we are thrilled to welcome Gerber to Virginia’s corporate roster,” Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade Esther Lee said in a statement Monday. Virginia will give $862,500 and a Major Business Facility Tax Credit to Gerber. In return, Arlington County will enjoy a $5 million headquarters investment by Gerber, and an estimated $4.2 million in net revenue as a result of the new HQ.
"We are thrilled to welcome Gerber to Arlington's business community," said Katie Cristol, Chair of the Arlington County Board. The Montgomery County Council? Not so much.
MoCo's latest economic development defeat comes on the heels of a devastating report that the County has had the worst new business growth rate in the entire D.C. region; only tiny Falls Church City had a lower growth rate, and has only 12,000 residents to Montgomery's 1.4 million inhabitants.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Creative Playthings moves into AT&T Store space in Rockville

Creative Playthings, a retailer of children's play equipment, is the new tenant in the space recently vacated by AT&T at 1600 Rockville Pike. The store features "premium" swing sets, made in the U.S.A.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Historic home on Frederick Ave. likely to be demolished

The owner of a two-story Colonial Revival home at 214 Frederick Avenue is seeking to demolish the structure. It is located in England's Addition to Lincoln Park. City staff finds that the home does indeed meet the criteria for historic designation, but "has lost the physical characteristics that are required for the building to have integrity." They are therefore recommending against historic designation for the home.

Rockville's Historic District Commission will review the matter at its next meeting, on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7:30 PM at City Hall.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Choice Hotels partners with Spanish lodging chain

Rockville-headquartered Choice Hotels announced a new alliance with a Spanish hotel chain Wednesday. Partnering with Sercotel Hotels will create "new opportunities for additional hotel development across Europe and Latin America," Choice said in a statement.

"Teaming up with Choice Hotels is a natural fit. Both companies value quality and are committed to providing unmatched service to guests and franchisees. By combining the complementary attributes of Sercotel and Choice Hotels, we can continue to deliver a high level of service at our hotels, while benefiting from the global reach of Choice," Sercotel's president, Marisol TurrĂ³, said in a statement yesterday. "This is especially true in the flourishing Latin American market where the combination of Choice's powerful hotel brands and our Spanish hospitality management have great appeal."

Photo courtesy Choice Hotels

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mayor & Council unanimously approve voting by mail for Rockville city elections

Rockville's Mayor & Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve voting-by-mail for City elections. Early voting and most physical polling places will be eliminated; voters who wish to vote in-person will have to go to City Hall to cast their ballots.

The new voting-by-mail option will be available in the next election for Mayor & Council, in 2019.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

MoCo Council bill would steal money from disabled, seniors for BRT slush fund

After voting to tax Uber rides to subsidize failing Barwood Cab, which ended with Barwood filing for bankruptcy anyway, now the Montgomery County Council is trying to convert funds the tax earmarked for seniors and the disabled into a slush fund it can use for the $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle. Bill 13-18, sponsored by Council President Helpless Hans Riemer, would strip all language from the Uber tax that directed funds to transportation for the disabled, elderly and poor, and "instead allow use of the fund for any transportation purpose in the County."

We already knew that the Uber tax, as I warned in my testimony opposing it, would hurt County residents and Uber drivers alike. Exactly as I predicted, Uber rides became more expensive, Uber drivers are being paid less than they were a few years ago, and no new ride-sharing competitor has entered the Montgomery County market since the tax was imposed.

This also made the County less appealing to the young professionals the Council has tried to publicly claim they wanted to attract, as millennials overwhelmingly use Uber rather than taxicabs. To our stuck-in-the-60s Council, diesel buses and Barwood Cab are still considered state-of-the-art transportation.

But now the Council is adding insult to severe economic injury to the County. When passing the Uber tax, the bleeding-heart language related to improving transportation for the disabled and elderly was used by the Council in the media as a fig leaf, to cover the anti-progress, fight-the-future nature of the Uber tax.

Now the Council is cravenly plotting to steal the money out of the hands of the disabled and elderly, and use it to fund their struggling $10 billion BRT boondoggle. The County, currently facing a $208,000,000 budget shortfall, has been unable to find enough funds for the BRT scheme. They failed to create an independent transit authority twice, which would have had unlimited power to tax and spend with no oversight by any elected official. Recently, they tried and failed to have their allies in Annapolis give them "quick-take" land seizure authority, which would have allowed them to seize homes and businesses - not only for the demolitions BRT will require along each route, but which could also have been sold to generate more money for the unfunded BRT boondoggle.

Desperate for money, the greedy Council will now try to pry it from the hands of disabled, poor and elderly residents, and put it into the pockets of themselves and their developer sugar daddies, whom the whole BRT scheme was dreamed up to profit.

It's outrageous.

It's bad enough Uber and Lyft riders have had to pay more, and via the tax pay Barwood Cab even if they weren't using their services. But to then find out the Council used the disabled and seniors to actually gain a new revenue source for their BRT boondoggle, this is a new low for even this corrupt Council.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Montgomery County Council to raise property taxes, after claiming they wouldn't

Remember when I reported that the Montgomery County Council would raise property taxes again this year, despite elected officials' and the local media's claims otherwise? More proof is in. Here is the announcement the County Council is required to print in local newspapers before they can raise your taxes, and it reads, "The County Council of Montgomery County proposes to increase property taxes."
It also details what I had explained: The County's tax scheme deviously increases taxes automatically each year, in an attempt to trick the public into thinking the Council had nothing to do with it. In fact, as the announcement notes, in order to avoid the automatic tax increase, the Council would have to "reduce its real property tax rate enough to fully offset increasing assessments. The proposed budget does not provide such a reduction.
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Hence your tax rate for FY-2019 will be 4.1% higher, and the Council will steal an estimated $56,120,926 from their constituents' bank accounts in the coming year, on top of what you payed last year. The Council's historic 2016 8.7% tax hike walloped many County homeowners at effective 9%-10% rates based on their rising home assessments. Councilmembers had falsely claimed the increase was for "education," but student performance and graduation rates have actually continued to decline after the tax hike, as they have throughout the decade.
If you re-elect Helpless Hans Riemer and 3 new equally-controlled At-Large candidates chosen by the MoCo political cartel, wait until you see the tax increase you'll get in 2019, 2020, etc. A better choice would be to vote for Robert Dyer, who will offer a #DyerTaxCut, repealing the 2016 property tax and 2010 energy tax hikes incrementally over 4 years. Riemer's own former chief of staff recently noted that the energy tax hike appeared to have a devastating effect on the net number of new businesses created in Montgomery County this decade. MoCo had a net increase of only 6 new businesses, while D.C. and Fairfax enjoyed a net addition of 3000 new businesses each.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Moribund MoCo has lowest new-business growth rate in region

You know a jurisdiction's business climate is at rock bottom, when one of its biggest critics is the former chief-of-staff of that jurisdiction's sitting County Council President. Thus, some of the best analysis of the moribund Montgomery County economy has come from Council President Helpless Hans Riemer's former chief-of-staff Adam Pagnucco on the Seventh State blog. Pagnucco has done it again, producing another set of mindblowing stats on the walking-dead MoCo economy.

In a recent post, Pagnucco showed that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Montgomery County has the lowest rate of growth of new business establishments in the region since 2000. Only the tiny City of Falls Church has fared worse, and think of how small they are in relation to Montgomery County (they have only 15,000 residents vs. our 1.4 million).

Who was ahead of Montgomery County in new establishment growth? [If you are a Montgomery County elected official, consider this a trigger warning, and an opportune time to slip a paper bag over your head before your constituents read the following list] Loudoun County with 134% growth of new businesses established, Spotsylvania County 86%, Prince William County 82%, Stafford County 79%, Culpeper County 58%, Arlington County 42%, Fauquier County 42%, Warren County 37%, District of Columbia 37%, Rappahannock County 32%, the D.C. region as a whole 32%, Frederick County 31%, Fairfax City 30%, Fairfax County 30%, Manassas City 28%, Manassas Park City 27%, Jefferson WV 23%, Calvert County 22%, Alexandria 20%, Clarke 19%, Charles County 16%, City of Fredericksburg 12%, Prince George's County 12%.

Montgomery County, by contrast, had a paltry 10% growth rate in new establishments.

Good God. Humiliating!

The Montgomery County Council again has their [briefcases] handed to them by...Culpeper County???? LOL. Fredneck??? LOL. Jefferson bleeping West Virginia? Bleep, yes.

We already knew that Montgomery County has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in two decades. And that the Maryland Retailers Association reported a net loss of over 2100 retail jobs in Montgomery since 2000. But Pagnucco has found even more staggering statistics to add to the Montgomery Moribundity.

Just looking at the post-recession years alone, 2011-2016, the District of Columbia and Fairfax County enjoyed a net gain of 3000 new establishments each. Over those same years, Montgomery County had a net gain of...6. That's a single digit folks. Six.

And how about this: Pagnucco discovered only 19 new business filings in Montgomery County were recorded with the State of Maryland in FY-2016. Nineteen. 

Again, a total humiliation.

Who beat us that year within our own state? Worcester County was at the top, with 138 new business filings. Somebody call Rodney the Lifeguard to save our drowning County Council!

Pagnucco notes that 2011 was the first fiscal year completely impacted by the County Council's massive 2010 energy tax hike. He ends one of his reports with perhaps the most pertinent question in this election year:

"Which candidates for office do you think can help turn this around?"

Myself, for one. Visit my website to see why I am the best choice for the Montgomery County Council At-Large to turn around Montgomery County's utterly moribund economy.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Police searching for man who vanished in Rockville

Montgomery County police are asking the public's help in locating a man who vanished in Rockville last month. Tibebe Yorannes Shenkute, alias "Michael Johnson," is described by police as a black male, 5′ 6″ tall, weighing 150 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. When he was last seen in Rockville, he was wearing a brown pullover jacket, sweater, button-down shirt and pants (with no confirmed descriptive colors).

Shenkute is a former resident of Rockville, but had been recently staying in Gaithersburg. He is also known to frequent the Silver Spring area. Police and his family are concerned for his welfare.

Anyone with information regarding Johnson’s whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Mayor & Council to hold closed session Thursday morning

Rockville's Mayor and Council have scheduled a closed session for tomorrow morning, April 5, 2018 at 9:00 AM, in the Diamondback Terrapin Conference Room at City Hall. According to the agenda, the meeting is to receive legal advice, and to consider a proposal for a business to locate, expand, or remain in the city. It may also involve discussion of the acquisition of real property with a "public purpose."

The City of Rockville has not been publicly identified as a potential home for Amazon's HQ2, but County officials have not publicly confirmed all of the specific properties they are offering to the company. White Flint has been the area most-discussed in relation to the Amazon search so far.

Thursday's meeting is not open to the public.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mayor & Council to host Twinbrook neighborhood meeting April 10

Rockville's Mayor and Council will host a neighborhood meeting in the Twinbrook community this coming Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be held at the Twinbrook Recreation Center, located at 12920 Twinbrook Parkway, according to the meeting agenda.  Any person with a disability who requires assistance in order to attend this meeting is asked to call the ADA Coordinator at 240-314-8100.

Monday, April 2, 2018

NASA Federal Credit Union opening new Rockville location (Photos)

NASA Federal Credit Union is opening a new location in Rockville. Their branch will now be in Wintergreen Plaza.

The Upper Marlboro-based credit union has previously been found in Rockville next to burger joint Fuddrucker's down the Pike, which is part of the land that will be soon redeveloped by Saul Centers. NASA Federal Credit Union will continue to have the coolest sign of any financial business in Rockville. Now next to Habit Burger Grill, we can say the NASA folks do love their hamburgers.