Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Patisserie Manuel to open at Montgomery Mall

Patisserie Manuel is expanding to Bethesda. L’Academie de Cuisine graduate Claudia Olea started the bakery in the Aspen Hill area, and this year moved to 8810 Brookeville Road. Named for her father, Patisserie Manuel will soon open a new location in the Dining Terrace at Westfield Montgomery Mall, by McDonald's.
Patisserie Manuel offers the standard French-style pastries you would expect to find at an upscale bakery. What sets it apart is the special Chilean pastries you will also find on the menu. And why settle for a Tres Leches Cake when you can order the Four Leches Cake at Patisserie Manuel?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Panera Bread reopens at Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville

Panera Bread has reopened at the Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville. Contrary to rumors, the restaurant did not close permanently, but temporarily closed for renovations.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Another Extreme Halloween in Rockville

Halloween will be extreme again in Rockville this year. Extreme Halloween is back at 1616 Rockville Pike with costumes, props and decorations. They are located next to Mattress Firm, at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, across from Congressional Plaza.

Police to close Maryland Avenue during dueling immigration rallies today

Dueling rallies between opponents and advocates of Montgomery County's new policy restricting ICE agents' access to County facilities, and to prisoners with federal immigration detainers being released by the County, at 11:00 AM in Rockville today have led Montgomery County police to close parts of two streets.

Maryland Avenue will be closed between Fleet Street and E. Jefferson Street between 8:00 AM this morning and 2:00 PM this afternoon; the rallies are taking place in front of the County Council office building at 100 Maryland Avenue between 11:00 AM and noon.

Vinson Street will be entirely closed during those same hours.

The rally against the County's sanctuary policy will be headlined by television commentator and author Michelle Malkin and conservative commentator and talk radio personality Larry O'Connor. A coalition of progressive, immigration, and faith-based organizations has scheduled a counterprotest at the same location. Expect police to try to keep the two groups separate, but if you are not participating in one side or the other, you'll probably just want to steer clear of this area mid-day today.

Montgomery County Interfaith Community Liaison Rev. Mansfield Kaseman released a statement saying he has advised police that he and his team are available to assist in "maintaining peace" at today's rally, and has discussed the event with County Executive Marc Elrich.

Hiro Sushi closed in Rockville

Hiro Sushi has closed at 5268 Nicholson Lane in the White Flint Plaza shopping center. No reason is posted for the closure. However, I can find no listing online showing the space available for lease yet.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Michelle Malkin, sanctuary opponents to rally Friday in Rockville; counterprotest planned in Montgomery County immigration stand-off

Opponents and advocates of Montgomery County's policy of not detaining prisoners with ICE detainers being released from the Montgomery County jail until federal agents can take them into custody will face off outside the Montgomery County Council building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville tomorrow, Friday, September 13, 2019 from 11:00 AM to noon. A rally headlined by political commentator and author Michelle Malkin and WMAL conservative radio host Larry O'Connor will take place on the steps of the Council building.

Rally organizers say they will call on Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich to withdraw his executive order,"Promoting Community Trust," that put further restrictions on ICE cooperation this year. Elrich has said he will review aspects of the policy, and determine whether to make changes.

Activists and organizations who support the County policy, which has come under national political fire from the Trump administration after eight immigrants in the country illegally were accused of separate sexual assaults of women and children in the County over the last few weeks, are pledging to turn out in force to counter the rally. "Let's drown out the hate with NOISE," Showing Up for Racial Justice - Montgomery County said in a Facebook announcement of their counter-rally, "MoCo Stands with Immigrants," that will take place at the same time and location.

Malkin is touring the country to promote a new book, Open Borders, Inc.: Who's Funding America's Destruction?, the release of which has coincided with the Montgomery County controversy. Others slated to appear at the original rally include Shari Rendall of FAIR, Brad Botwin of Help Save Maryland, author Ying Ma and Montgomery County Republican Party chair Alexander Bush.

The counterprotest will include members of SURJ, host Takoma Park Mobilization, Jews United for Justice, CASA de Maryland, UFCW Local 1994, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, Action in Montgomery, JCRC of Greater Washington, Poor People's Campaign, United We Dream, Sanctuary DMV, and other local unions and organizations.

Photo via @michellemalkin Twitter account

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Rockville construction update: Barnes & Noble at Congressional Plaza (Photos)

More news from Congressional Plaza in Rockville today. Construction on the future Barnes & Noble bookstore, opening in 2020, has begun in earnest across several empty storefronts. A covered pedestrian shelter has been erected to protect Plaza patrons during the work, and it also shows that this will be a more-complicated build-out than the typical tenant switchover.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Orangetheory Fitness, CorePower Yoga opening at Congressional Plaza in Rockville

After losing several tenants, Congressional Plaza in Rockville has been adding new ones in spades. Orangetheory Fitness and CorePower Yoga are the latest two officially announced by property owner Federal Realty. Both fitness facilities will be part of a new section of Congressional Plaza they are branding as FITRow.

One space remains to be filled in the FITRow section, which will be next to the future Barnes & Noble bookstore in the north wing of the property. Federal Realty says it found success with its original test of the FITRow concept at its Assembly Row property in Boston. I can say there has been a huge response to the recent announcement of Orangetheory's future location at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda, which bodes well for a warm reception in Rockville.

“FITRow is a lifestyle, a community where people have access to several boutique studios that can evolve with their fitness wants and needs,” Federal Realty Director of Asset Management Kari Glinksi said in a statement this morning. Orangetheory and CorePower will both open in 2020.

Rockville strip mall to be redeveloped as Rock Grove (Photos)

The Shady Grove Professional Building's retail strip mall at the corner of MD 355 and Shady Grove Road is going to be redeveloped as Rock Grove, a more-modern strip retail center. A rendering shown by JBG Smith promises a more modern and attractive appearance, while keeping the same retail use.
Dunkin' Donuts (which is not in the strip mall structure, but rather in the building itself) and Minerva Indian Cuisine are still operating, but other storefronts have been cleared out. It's uncertain which vacated tenants might return in the new center, as JBG Smith is advertising spaces as available in the future Rock Grove Center. It would be nice if they added a fast food restaurant with drive-thru to the parking lot, such as Steak and Shake, Jack-in-the-Box, or Hardee's - any chain currently not found in Montgomery County.


Monday, September 9, 2019

Friendship BBQ opens at Rockville Town Square

Friendship BBQ has opened at 33-E Maryland Avenue at Rockville Town Square. It's not Carolina or Texas barbecue, but Chinese barbecue. The cuisine, and even the wood used to grill the skewers, are native to the Xinjiang region of China, according to property owner Federal Realty.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Rockville construction update: Jersey Mike's Fallsgrove (Photos)

Jersey Mike's looks pretty close to the finish line for opening at the Fallsgrove Village Center. Even the chip bags are in place. What's better - Jersey Mike's at Wintergreen Plaza or Firehouse Subs at Upper Rock? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bank with drive-thru proposed for site of shuttered Rockville supermarket

A bank branch with a drive-thru has been proposed for the former Meixin Supermarket location at 460 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. It's interesting to see another Town Center Phase II property going to a low-density, traditional automobile-oriented MD 355 use. Their application has been deemed incomplete by planning staff, however, so there may be at least a brief delay in this moving forward.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Panera Bread closed for renovations in Fallsgrove

Panera Bread has temporarily closed for renovations at the Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville. No reopening date has been announced. You can see a lot has been removed from the interior.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sears Gaithersburg closing, company spokesperson confirms

The Sears store in Gaithersburg will close by mid-December 2019, Sears/Kmart Public Relations Director Larry Costello confirmed to Suburban News Network, publisher of RockvilleNights.com. Located at Lakeforest Mall, the Gaithersburg store appeared on a list making the rounds of national news organizations, Reddit and Facebook groups, but the impending closure had not been officially confirmed by Sears until now.

Costello said a liquidation sale will begin mid-September at the Gaithersburg Sears and Stevensville Kmart stores. One Sears store in White Oak, and a Sears appliance outlet in Wheaton, will remain in Montgomery County after the Gaithersburg store has closed.

Monday, September 2, 2019

TPB approves funding to improve Stonestreet pedestrian access to Rockville Metro

Park Road near the Rockville Metro station
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has approved $280,000 in funds to provide better pedestrian and bicycle access to the Rockville Metro station from the east side. They especially focus on the area of Park Road between N. Stonestreet Avenue and S. Stonestreet Avenue.

Including wider sidewalks, a new intersection alignment, and bike lanes, the improvements were among the recommendations of the Stonestreet Corridor Study. They also again show the benefit of Rockville having an active seat at the table - Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton has been a member of the TPB, and was elected as its chair for 2017.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Kneipp closes at Montgomery Mall, EJJI Ramen reopens

Kneipp, a German retailer of natural, vegan bath and body products, has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The shop was the latest victim of the moribund Montgomery County economy, which has suffered a net loss of over 2100 retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association. Kneipp's storefront is now blacked out, but inside it has been cleared out.

Another closure at the mall earlier this week was temporary. EJJI Ramen was closed at the beginning of the week. But the company, which has another location in Baltimore, says they had to close due to a mechanical problem. EJJI Ramen is now open again in the Dining Terrace.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Chase Bank coming to Rockville?

Chase Bank is aggressively expanding across the country, having already opened two branches in downtown Bethesda alone, with a third Bethesda location in the works. But they don't yet have a Rockville branch. Now I'm hearing they will open a future branch at Pike & Rose, on a pad site along Prose Street.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Rockville Mayor & Council TV debate schedule set

Before Rockville residents vote by mail on who will become the next Mayor and Council, three live, televised candidate forums will be held. The public can attend in person, or watch live on Channel 11 or on a livestream on the City website. They will also later be uploaded to YouTube.

Here is the debate schedule, with more community and organization-hosted non-televised debates likely to be added in the coming weeks:

  • 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive. Presented by the League of Women Voters.
  • 1-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Thomas Farm Community Center, 700 Fallsgrove Drive. Presented by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce.
  • 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center, 12920 Twinbrook Parkway. Presented by Twinbrook Village in association withTwinbrook Community Association

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Escher apartments under new management in Rockville

The Escher apartments have been open for fourteen months at 1900 Chapman Avenue in Rockville. Owner Compatriot Capital has just announced the building is now under new management. Village Green, a property management firm based in Detroit, will now be in charge. The company has been around since 1919, which is pretty impressive.

"By partnering with Village Green, we know we're getting a team with a proven track record for delivering the personal touches and prioritizing the needs of residents that will enhance their living experience beyond the walls of their apartment," Compatriot President Mark Van Kirk this morning. "With more than 100 years of experience creating homes and over 50 years in apartment management, we're thrilled to leverage that expertise to provide Escher residents with a truly meaningful living experience and sense of community," Village Green CEO Diane Batayeh added.

The management of the property changed hands August 1, according to Village Green.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Partial power outage last night at Rockville Town Square

Power appeared to be out to several businesses on the west side of Gibbs Street early last night at Rockville Town Square. The businesses impacted were those between SunTrust Bank and Five Guys.

Five Guys Rockville Town Square closes for renovations

You'll have to head north or south on Rockville Pike to satisfy your appetite for Five Guys in the coming days. Their Rockville Town Square location has temporarily closed for renovations. It will reopen September 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM.

Friday, August 23, 2019

MOD Pizza Rockville opening date set

Last week, I showed you a preview of the interior of MOD Pizza at the Montrose Crossing shopping center on Rockville Pike. Now they have announced their opening date - next Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 10:30 AM. The first 50 people through the doors when they open will get free pizza.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

White Flint Mall site reclaimed by nature (Photos)

The former site of White Flint Mall on Rockville Pike has been reclaimed by nature. Several years have passed since the mall was demolished, and now it is an overgrown field guarded by hyperaggressive security. Perhaps they fear a giant rabbit may jump the fence and munch on the vegetation. The heady greed that led the owners to pull the plug on a fully-leased mall, with crowded parking lots and popular restaurants, has dissipated. Replacing it is stagnation and malaise. And lots of weeds.
An area touted as Montgomery County's answer to Tysons fell victim to MoCo's moribund economy, corrupt and incompetent County Council, and hostile business climate. Tysons is booming, while White Flint Mall's former site is only blooming with weeds and brush. Developers and investors have fled, abandoning or downsizing their plans. Only Federal Realty moved forward with a fully-realized development, leading their CEO, Don Wood, to criticize County officials for not delivering on their end of the bargain in White Flint.
The Montgomery County Council hasn't taken a single action to address our economic development crisis since taking office last December, as MoCo stagnates with the lowest-ranked economy in the region by every relevant measure. No major corporation has moved its headquarters to Montgomery County in over twenty years. County taxes are at an all-time high, but tax revenue is declining, as the ultra-rich flee to lower-tax jurisdictions in the region.

Yet our elected officials have decided to simply put a piece of carpet tape over the "Check Engine" light screaming at them from the civic dashboard. It's intriguing that Lerner is compelled to provide entertainment for the public on a future development site they own in bustling Tysons, but here the Council allows them to leave us an overgrown field. That says a lot about the difference between the two jurisdictions, and the competency of their respective leadership.

This stretch of Rockville Pike looks
exactly the same as it did over nine years
ago, when the White Flint sector plan passed