Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Nada to open November 19 at Pike & Rose

Nada, a Mexican tacos and cocktails restaurant, will open this coming Monday, Novermber 19, 2018 at Pike & Rose. The 6300 SF eatery, located in the ground floor of The Henri apartments, will be the Ohio-based chain's first East Coast location.

With seating for 140, and 50 more on the outdoor patio, Nada will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Nada’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Photo courtesy Nada

Mayor & Council moving ahead with Rockville Town Center suggestions

Rockville's Mayor and Council approved a set of recommendations to address the growing crisis in the city's Town Center at a City Hall worksession last night. Topics most urgently to be addressed, based on the discussion, are parking, creating a new City position that would be an active point person for Town Center issues, and the impending development moratorium that will be triggered by overcrowding at Richard Montgomery High School in 2020.

Parking was by far the highest priority item for the Mayor & Council. Solutions boiled down to the desire to have up to 3 hours of free parking at Rockville Town Square, a potential parking district that were create more uniform parking policies around the entire Town Center neighborhood, and issuing warnings for a first parking violation instead of the current $40 fine that has angered many a visitor.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and a majority of the Council agreed that a new City position that would create a contact person for all Town Center stakeholders is necessary. Newton and Councilmembers Beryl Feinberg and Virginia Onley supported having the position be under the city government rather than Rockville Economic Development Inc. However, Newton said that strategies for improving economic development should be developed under the auspices of REDI, rather than by City officials who lack their expertise and specialization in that field.

The new point person on City staff would not hold a desk job, but a shoe leather position that would center on engagement with stakeholders and all interests. A "diplomatic" position, "not a gotcha position," City Manager Rob DiSpirito assured the Mayor & Council. The new staff member would walk Town Center streets daily, meet business owners while making the rounds, note code enforcement and infrastructure problems, and report back to the appropriate departments and officials, DiSpirito suggested.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala said the crisis in Town Center has been a long time coming, and that a major factor is the lack of sufficient residential development in the neighborhood. He urged loosening of caps on classroom overcrowding and traffic congestion, to allow more density and growth in the Town Center. Pierzchala specifically sounded the alarm that Rockville is facing a development moratorium in as few as two years, due to overcrowding at Richard Montgomery. He suggested "targeted" APFO and APFS waivers for the areas around the Twinbrook and Rockville Metro stations.

Pierzchala undercut his argument for allowing more school overcrowding by citing the inaction of Montgomery County Public Schools in addressing the RM situation. It was only a few years ago that Pierzchala and others on the Council, in tandem with developers, argued that accepting the looser MCPS overcrowding standards would bring long-overdue school construction funds and projects to the City.

Now, despite a Council majority passing that unpopular adequate public facilities change, MCPS is doing nothing more than it was when the City had the tougher standards. That does not make for a very convincing case to further weaken school overcrowding limits.

Eliminating the 2-hour parking validation requirement at Rockville Town Square was expected to cost $290,000 a year, Feinberg noted. But DiSpirito advised against using that number in decision-making. He said property owner Federal Realty is currently conducting its own parking study, and that it should produce a more accurate and timely cost estimate for such a parking change.

Pierzchala warned that the total costs of all of the recommendations were likely to "blow up the budget" in the coming years, and undercut other priorities. He urged a greater role for the private sector in solving Town Center's problems.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Rockville Town Square tree lighting this Friday night

The annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockville Town Square is scheduled for this Friday evening, November 16, 2018, from 6:00-9:00 PM. Join Santa Claus for live music and entertainment, ice skating, merchant specials, and a special performance by students from Dawn Crafton Dance Connection.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Olive & Loom to open first bricks-and-mortar location in Rockville

This Larissa throw is the bestselling
product for Olive & Loom this month
Olive & Loom, a retailer of home, lifestyle and gift items from around the world, will open at Pike & Rose in the spring of 2019. The store will be located at 11815 Grand Park Avenue, between Stella Barra pizzeria and Francesca's.

The company is owned by the owner of Sabun Home at Bethesda Row. Olive & Loom has sold its products online, in retail stores, and at Sabun Home since 2016. The 765 SF Pike & Rose location will be its first standalone bricks-and-mortar location.

Photo via Olive & Loom Instagram

Friday, November 9, 2018

Los Primos Tex-Mex & Grill soft opening underway

Los Primos Tex-Mex is having a soft opening all this week. The new restaurant is located at 12303 Twinbrook Parkway, next to Peak ReLeaf. Although the cuisine leans Mexican, pupusas are on the menu. Other dishes include Caldo Ranchero short ribs, Sopa de Mondongo, and Pollo Relleno con Espinaca. They've also got the big games on TV. A nice addition to a block that has been dead for a while.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Public hearing set for North Stonestreet Avenue master plan amendment

The Rockville Planning Commission will hear public testimony regarding an amendment to the North Stonestreet Avenue master plan on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall. If passed, the amendment will affect properties along North Stonestreet Avenue between Spring Avenue to the north, and Howard Avenue to the south. That area is currently occupied by Montgomery
County Public Schools and Crusader Baptist Church, in the historic former Lincoln High School.

You can read the hearing draft of the amendment online here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Sneak peek at the new Rockville AT&T Store (Photos)

The AT&T Store looks close to finished at the Montrose Crossing shopping center on Rockville Pike at the Montrose Parkway. They are also currently hiring part-time employees. The storefront has a very slick and modern appearance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Rockville construction update: Julii (Photos)

Here's a sneak peek at the progress inside Julii, the latest restaurant concept from the owners of CAVA coming to Rose Park at Pike & Rose. Wall and floor tiling is in place, as are lighting fixtures.

Please get out and vote today to end
our County's archaic government
liquor monopoly!
Robert Dyer

Monday, November 5, 2018

Riemer charged taxpayers for private meetings with donors, violated ex parte communications rules

Developers had projects
before Council in Westbard,
Bethesda Downtown 
sector plans

Exclusive investigative report

Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer has met privately with developers who donated to his Council campaigns, and charged taxpayers for his travel costs to those private meetings, according to Montgomery County Council reimbursement records. Riemer also did not disclose these private, ex parte communications at the next Council meeting, as he is required to do. Like all Council members, Riemer sits as a land-use commissioner when the Council votes on land-use and zoning issues as the "District Council."
Riemer meets Westbard developer privately
at La Madeleine, who then donates money
to Riemer's campaign, and Riemer then
charges taxpayers for his gas money to and from
the meeting, Council records show
Riemer met with Evan Goldman of EYA privately at La Madeleine restaurant in downtown Bethesda on October 21, 2016. On January 8, 2018, Goldman made a $150 contribution to Riemer's Council campaign. Riemer was an outspoken supporter of EYA's Westbard project, and of the Westbard sector plan that was overwhelmingly opposed by residents, which financially benefited EYA and partner Regency Centers.

Riemer met with Larry Walker of The Walker Group privately at Clyde's Tower Oaks restaurant on October 31, 2016. Walker has contributed $2400 to Riemer's campaigns, including $100 in May 2017.
Riemer demands reimbursement from
taxpayers for his private meeting with
downtown Bethesda developer who had
given him almost $1000
Riemer met with Charles Nulsen of Washington Property Company privately at WPC's headquarters in Bethesda on March 8, 2017. Nulsen has donated at least $970.70 to Riemer's campaigns.

Riemer requested reimbursement from taxpayers for all three private meetings with his donors, according to Council records.

It's no secret Hans Riemer is cozy with developers, as his voting record and campaign finance reports clearly show. But even an ethically-corrupt politician like Riemer cannot be allowed to charge taxpayers for private meetings with his campaign donors, nor to violate ex parte communications rules. Private meetings with donors can only be paid for with political campaign funds, not taxpayer funds.

Local media, including The Washington Post, have refused to report on this late-breaking scandal I uncovered. In fact, the Post's Montgomery County political reporter Jennifer Barrios hasn't written a single sentence about the County Council At-Large general election race. Intriguingly, while the Post has declined to investigate any of the scandals I've forwarded to Barrios and reporter Robert McCartney throughout the election, it dispatched a reporter at the 11th hour to write a hit piece on a Republican in Anne Arundel County regarding a...developer scandal (which is a nothingburger compared to the scandals of Riemer, others on the Council, and the Planning Board).

The question is, why does the Post not want you to know about the questionable activities of Hans Riemer and other Montgomery County officials? This is a question that must be answered, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election. Secondly, the State Board of Elections and Montgomery County Office of the Inspector General should investigate Riemer's activities, which appear to be violations of both ethics rules and campaign finance laws.

Third, it's time for voters to oust Riemer on Tuesday, and his cartel-funded running mates Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass and Will Jawando, who each have received thousands of dollars from developers.

Flower Child opening Wednesday in Rockville (Photos & Review)

Flower Child, a new restaurant at 10072 Darnestown Road emphasizing healthy eating and vegetable dishes, will open this Wednesday, November 7. I visited during a soft opening night Sunday, and here is my review. The dining room is loud when crowded, but brightly-lit, with flowers on each table. There is a large open kitchen. You order at the front counter, and then wait at your table for your meal to be brought to you.

Magic Hat #9

Flower vase on every table

Wait at your seat with your
number, and servers will
bring you your meal when it
is ready

Tuscan Chicken Soup

I got a plate with organic chicken, smashed
organic potato (right), Spiced Indian Cauliflower (left)
and gluten-free vegetarian Mac & Cheese (center)
for $14

Smashed organic potato

The patio out front will be a
nice place to dine when it gets
warmer outside

Mayor & Council to hold another meeting on Rockville Town Center Nov. 13

The Mayor and Council will have another special meeting devoted to the future of Rockville Town Center on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall. Unlike the open-comment public forum a few weeks ago, there will be no public testimony at this meeting. There will be no Community Forum at this worksession, either. The public is invited to attend and listen to the discussion, and the meeting will also be shown on Channel 11 on cable TV, and live-streamed on Facebook.

Options, ideas and suggestions compiled by stakeholders and City staff will be the basis for the conversation at the meeting. The City has also released a set of responses from Rockville Town Square developer and landlord Federal Realty to questions asked at the previous public forum:

How are Federal Realty Investment Trust and the City marketing Rockville Town Square and Rockville Town Center?

FRIT creates and produces a special events program for Rockville Town Square. For 2018, exclusive Rockville Town Square marketing programming included Fitness on the Square, Salsa at the Square, The Rockville Town Square Ice Rink, Holiday Tree Lighting, digital media outreach, and promotional support for merchant-initiated events & promotions such as the Finnegan’s Wake St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival and Dawn Crafton Dance Connection’s non-profit initiative to provide dance classes to the underserved community of special needs children and adults.  Federal has also partnered with VisArts by donating for free their Pop-Up spaces on Maryland Ave which offer creative workshops to the public throughout the year as well as with the revolving art installation in the windows facing Route 355.  Collaborative initiatives executed in 2018 between Federal Realty, the City of Rockville and VisArts includes the summer “Create” program featuring free, weekly, artistic workshops on The Square and the art display from local artist, Emily Eisinger, whose art is featured under the ice at the ice rink.  The City of Rockville also funded six additional concerts for the 22-week Friday Night Live concert series produced by Federal Realty.

Why are so many stores closing?

Federal Realty has a reputation for creating a unique mix of local, regional and national merchants to create entertaining and attractive shopping and dining experiences.  It’s not uncommon for independent business owners to have more challenges than the larger chains, and unfortunately, this can result in lower success rates, causing a higher turnover of tenants.  We understand that this can be frustrating to consumers and is equally frustrating to us.  However, we still believe that adding local and independent merchants can add exclusive and unique offerings to the property not found anywhere else. We have had some successful independent merchants at Rockville Town Square such as Finnegan’s Wake, SushiDamo and Spice Xing. In addition, many of the national franchise chains are locally and regionally owned.

What are the lease rates and how do they compare to Federal Realty Investment Trust’s other local properties?

Lease rates are determined through the evaluation of many variables including, but not limited to, location, product or service type, store size, capital investment and length of the lease term.  After all of this is assessed, the rent is then measured in the context of lease rates within the broader marketplace. Additionally, lease rates and lease provisions are negotiated between the landlord and merchant over a period of time and then mutually agreed upon at the time of lease signing.

Does anyone debrief with the businesses that close to understand what went wrong and learn from it?

Federal Realty is in constant communication with our merchants from beginning to end.  Whether a merchant is opening, operating or closing a store, we value and pursue feedback and knowledge from our merchants, not only from the perspective of the individual, but from a broader view of the market as well.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Montgomery County shut-out of contest for UK firm's first US factory

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announces
another win over Montgomery County
Score another one for Virginia, as Montgomery County continues to sit out the regional economic development competition. British firm Harlow Group Ltd. has chosen Danville, Virginia for the site of its first U.S. precision sheet metal manufacturing plant. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the win Thursday. Alabama was the other Harlow suitor; Montgomery County did not even try to woo the firm.

Virginia will spend only $147,000 in financial incentives, while Harlow will invest $8 million in the state building the facility in Danville's burgeoning Cyber Park. Meanwhile, Montgomery County leaders are turning office parks ripe for aerospace, defense and tech campuses into bedroom community townhome developments instead. No wonder Montgomery has a $208 million budget shortfall this year.

"Virginia has once again attracted a leading international manufacturer, and we are thrilled to welcome Harlow Group to this region’s impressive corporate roster,” Northam said yesterday. Harlow Group CEO and Founder Alan Pearce praised Virginia's pro-business climate. “Virginians have been amongst the most welcoming and friendly people and their appetite to make things work and overcome obstacles is second to none," Pearce said. "The ambition of Virginia to embrace new technology and invest in the future will keep the Commonwealth as the number one destination for expansion and business investment, and we are extremely proud to be associated with Danville and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Montgomery County has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in two decades, and just lost one of its few high-tech manufacturing facilities to Frederick. It hasn't pursued lucrative aerospace firms in any serious way in the same amount of time.
Tired of losing to Virginia?
CLICK HERE for the only
County Council At-Large candidate
with a detailed plan to make
Montgomery County a major
economic development player in 
the region again:
Robert Dyer
Meanwhile, Danville's Cyber Park is becoming the latest aerospace hub in Virginia. “The community’s vision of becoming a hub of automotive and aerospace suppliers is now reality," said Robert Warren, Chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority (Montgomery doesn't even have such an authority). Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones was equally celebratory Thursday. "We believed we would create a magnet to draw aerospace and automotive metal working companies from around the world," Jones said. "Our students and residents could be employed in jobs here in our home community that would be highly paid. It is so rewarding to see this vision becoming a reality.”

Another humiliating defeat for Montgomery County. Another reason to throw the bums out on Election Day. You'll notice the four developer-funded Democrats running for Montgomery County Council At-Large have no specific economic development plan on their campaign websites; just generalities and mindless pablum. That's because they don't understand how business works in the year 2018, and because their developer sugar daddies want all the potential land that could hold corporate HQs, and related research and manufacturing facilities to instead be developed as residential housing.

The only way to break this cycle of failure and corruption is to vote for Robert Dyer on Tuesday, November 6.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Riemer makes taxpayers pay for his GoDaddy website

Exclusive Investigative Report

Just days before the 2018 Montgomery County elections, County Council President Hans Riemer has been caught charging taxpayers for a political website promoting him hosted by GoDaddy. County Council reimbursement records show that Riemer sought, and received, reimbursement from County taxpayers for the GoDaddy website's monthly and annual fees.
Council staff signature on statement approving
Riemer's GoDaddy website fees being
picked up by taxpayers
The website is clearly a campaign vehicle, touting Riemer's results-free "work" on the Council, and imagined accomplishments. It improperly displays a Montgomery County Government seal at the top of the page, despite not being hosted by Riemer already has an official Councilmember page on the Council's website, as do all other members of the Council.
Riemer's invoice from GoDaddy
But Riemer's page features a "Blog" link that sends users to the outside website - and the County website loads a disclaimer declaring the user is now leaving the official government site in the process. Other councilmembers' pages have "News" that is printed right on the site, and an option for an email newsletter, but not an independent campaign-style PR page like
Second GoDaddy invoice
Riemer's expense reports show him requesting, and receiving, taxpayer-funded compensation for the full costs of this rogue campaign website - hosting, and domain charges for both .com and .org versions. The total appears to cost taxpayers about $255 a year for a personal, political Go Daddy website promoting the candidate Hans Riemer.
Riemer email requesting taxpayer
reimbursement for his
political GoDaddy website
Hans Riemer is free to publish as many websites promoting himself as he wishes, but he's not free to make County taxpayers pay for them. This is an ethics and campaign finance violation. I'm not surprised Riemer would be this audacious, considering he has served two full terms without any media scrutiny.
Riemer email seeking reimbursement from
taxpayers for a second GoDaddy invoice
for his website
So far, the media has looked the other way as Riemer accepted massive amounts of out-of-state money from Wall Street crooks and their K Street lobbyists, took checks from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and MItch Rales' Danaher Corporation - two pioneers in outsourcing - while claiming to be a "progressive," boasted repeatedly at candidate forums in 2010/2014/2018 about being responsible for Barack Obama's 2008 youth vote victory when he was out of the Youth Vote Director position long before Obama had even clinched the Democratic nomination, voted to create a $360 million federal tax shelter for a campaign donor in exchange for $4000 in campaign contributions, and failed to disclose illegal activity he was apparently aware of in the County liquor department until after he was safely reelected in 2014.

It's past time the media scrutinize an elected official making $137,000 a year who is refusing to even debate his opponents, and is attempting to steal another victory, with no investigation of his questionable actions. And it's past time County voters replace ethically-challenged Riemer with a candidate who can end corruption and restore confidence in our County government: Robert Dyer.
Second reimbursement of taxpayer
funds to Riemer for his GoDaddy website

UBREAKIFIX opening Rockville location

UBREAKIFIX is coming to Rockville. The store is moving in at 1532 Rockville Pike. Once open, they will fix everything you broke from cell phones to tablets to video game systems, with a 90-day warranty on repairs.
Does anyone really want another
sequel to our horrifying, developer-controlled
puppet show of a County Council?
If so, there are
four Democrats
on the ballot
who have each taken thousands of dollars
from their developer puppet masters.
CLICK HERE for a real alternative:
Robert Dyer
Robert has taken NO money
from developers