Wednesday, August 15, 2018

51 Monroe St. part of Brookfield securitization move

Brookfield Property Partners has been criticized for carrying too much debt by some investment experts. The company also has office properties in moribund office markets like Montgomery County, also considered risky. Now BPP is placing several D.C. area properties into a $223.4 million securitization scheme through Morgan Stanley.

51 Monroe St., the tallest building in Rockville, is one of the office properties. Also in the securitization deal are One Central Plaza and 6110 Executive Boulevard, both located in Bethesda.

Whether the move will ease critics fears of risk is unclear, however. Some argue that such deals themselves magnify risk, and obscure the equity the owner holds in the properties in question. Such securities were one of several factors that led to the "Great Recession" a decade ago.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fireside Park improvements to be review by Development Review Committee August 16

Proposed renovations and improvements to the Fireside Park Apartments will be reviewed this Thursday, August 16, 2018, by the Rockville Development Review Committee. The meeting will be held at 10:00 AM in the Black Eyed Susan Conference Room at City Hall. Improvements proposed include interior renovations, landscaping and ADA-compliance upgrades. The meeting is open to the public, but there is no opportunity for public comment.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Rockville construction update: Chapman Row townhomes (Photos)

Winchester Homes' Chapman Row townhome development is still in the early stages. Officially addressed as 1904 Chapman Avenue, it is the second phase of the redevelopment of 1900 Chapman Avenue, formerly home to Syms. Thompson Crescent, the internal circular street mandated by the Rockville Planning Commission, already has a gleaming new street sign, as seen in the above photo.

The site is hemmed in by the CSX railroad to the east, and Twinbrook Parkway to the south. Homes will range from 2,100 - 2,315 SF, and feature three bedrooms, and two or three bathrooms. Winchester is not offering details yet on amenities, but is citing the proximity to Twinbrook Metro, restaurants, shopping and Pike & Rose. The latter is a good distance away on foot, it must be said.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Hogan announces initiatives to reduce human trafficking in Rockville appearance

Just weeks after it was revealed that human trafficking is up in Montgomery County in 2018, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made an appearance in Rockville yesterday to address the issue. “As governor, I am committed to ensuring that not only are the violent perpetrators brought to justice, but that we also provide the resources necessary to help survivors recover and rebuild their lives,” Hogan said. “One of our most important responsibilities is to protect Maryland citizens, and human trafficking strikes at the very fiber of our Maryland communities, our families, and our children.”

Among the $9 million in funding and new programs Hogan announced Thursday were a new executive order creating an Anti-Human Trafficking Director position; a new crime, research, and innovation center; strengthened data collection; an updated identification protocol; $5 million in funding for anti-human trafficking efforts; and new legislation to categorize felony human trafficking as a violent crime. Hogan also announced more than $4 million in new grants to target gangs and violent criminal networks as part of the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network (MCIN). Gang violence is up 72% in Montgomery County this year, thanks to our soft-on-crime County Council.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Rockville construction update: Escher apartments at 1900 Chapman Avenue (Photos)

The most mysterious residential development in recent Montgomery County history is becoming more of a known quantity each day. Escher is an apartment building located at 1900 Chapman Avenue in Rockville. It has perhaps the greatest selection of floorplans of any residential building in Montgomery County, which you can see on their website. The sidewalk has now reopened to pedestrians, and a freshly-painted bike lane can be spotted outside the pet-friendly building in the street.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Rockville woman missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing Rockville woman. Natasha “Alex” Mukaka, 18, was last seen leaving her Montrose Road residence on foot Tuesday around 2:00 AM.

Police describe Mukaka as a black female, 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighing 110 pounds. She has black hair (currently shaved) and brown eyes. When she was last seen, she was wearing black spandex pants, a white t-shirt, and a black shawl.

Police and family are concerned for Mukaka’s emotional and physical welfare. She regularly takes medication but does not have that medication with her. She is unfamiliar with the Washington, D.C. area, detectives say.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Natasha Mukaka is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24-7).

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

JINYA Ramen Bar Rockville review (Video+Photos)

Fire pit seating on the patio outside
JINYA Ramen Bar at Pike & Rose
JINYA Ramen Bar opens this morning at 11:00 AM at 910 Prose Street, at Pike & Rose in Rockville. The first 100 in line will receive a free bowl of ramen. Is it worth the trip? Watch my review for my opinion on the ramen, and several other menu items.

Garden of Todai-Ji cocktail

Tequila infused with matcha & basil,
agave syrup, fresh lime juice and rose water

Crispy Chicken appetizer dipped
in ponzu sauce

Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen

Brussels Sprouts Tempera with white truffle oil

JINYA Tonkotsu Black Ramen

Pork Gyoza

Noodles in the vegan ramen

The vegan ramen uses all-vegetable broth, which
is not always the case at other ramen places

Green Tea Mochi ice cream

It is ice cream inside a sweet-rice
dumpling exterior

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Beer Junction finally moving forward in Rockville

After almost a year of delay, there is finally some activity at the future home of The Beer Junction at 1800 Rockville Pike in the Galvan apartment building. A coming soon banner has been installed at the beer and wine store, and construction work is underway inside. The store will be located next to Floyd's Barbershop, facing the Pike.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Rape in Rockville

Just days after Montgomery County reported a 53% spike in rapes this year, a suspect has been arrested in a July 28 rape case in Rockville. Terrance D. Zimmerman, 27, of Chesley Knoll Court in Gaithersburg, was arrested Wednesday, and has been charged with the first-degree rape of an adult female victim.

The victim met Zimmerman and a second person at the Rockville Metro station on July 28, and exhanged words and phone numbers. She then accompanied Zimmerman to the rear of a home on MacArthur Drive. At that point, Zimmerman allegedly pulled out a folding knife and placed it at the victim's throat, and proceeded to rape her.

She reported the alleged rape to police two days later on July 30. Police were able to use phone calls, texts, and Metro surveillance video to identify and locate the suspect. Zimmerman is being held without bond.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Christ Episcopal Church wants to relocate future school building on its property

Christ Episcopal Church at 109 S. Washington Street in Rockville is seeking an amendment to its approved special exception and site plan, so that it can change the location of a future school building on its property. The new school was previously approved for 22 W. Jefferson Street. CEC would now like to build the school on a site fronting S. Washington Street. CEC's property is located just across the street from Rockville City Hall.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Montgomery County murders, gang-related crime spiking again in 2018

Massive 72% surge
in violent
gang-related crime;
"Most alarming"
53% jump in 
rape cases

Montgomery County's soft-on-crime County Council continues to have real consequences for victims of crime and gangs in our community. The latest statistics show that, after a 31% spike in murders last year, there have already been more homicides in 2018 than at this time of the year in 2017. That represents a 10% increase in murders this year on top of the 31% increase last year.
Gang related robberies have increased by 36% in 2018, and gang-related assaults have shot up 43% this year. There have been 247 reported cases of rape as of June 30, compared to only 161 by the same point in 2017 - a shocking 53% increase, which Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger called "most alarming" in his testimony before the Council Public Safety Committee on July 23.

Despite recent passage of "common sense gun laws" in Maryland, weapons violations are up 6% in 2018. And even after the Council loosened marijuana laws in 2014, marijuana violations are up 11% this year. Drug offenses are up 7.4% overall so far this year. There has also been an increase in human trafficking and kidnappings.

Assaults are up 3.3% in 2018. That increase was driven by an "uptick in gang activity," Assistant Police Chief Russ Hamill told the committee. The department released a list of unsurprising hot spots of gang activity in the County, with Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village being the hardest hit areas. Cider Mill and Lakeforest Mall are being worked overtime by MS-13, and the Hittsquad and L3 gangs.

MS-13 continues to dominate in the Wheaton and Piney Branch areas of the County; an MS-13 "destroyer house" was discovered on University Boulevard last year. "One Way Hustle" is now the dominant gang in Germantown, and Silver Spring is beset by multiple gangs, according to the Council staff report.

Violent gang-related crime is up an astonishing 72% in 2018, a clear failure of the County Council's weak 2017 anti-gang initiative.