Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Crown Dental is first retail tenant at Escher in Rockville

Escher, the new apartment building that opened last June, has finally gotten a retail tenant for its ground floor. Crown Dental will be the first business to lease space at the building, located at 1900 Chapman Avenue in Rockville.

More Montgomery County headlines:

Suburban News Network - MoCo's leading local news source

Monday, April 29, 2019

Construction underway at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Rockville

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant is now under construction at the Research Row shopping center in Rockville. Part of the parking lot in front of the future restaurant's space has been closed off for construction vehicles.
While a substantial amount of work has been done inside, it is still in the earliest phase of construction. This will be a nice sit-down dining addition to Research Row, and the second Cooper's Hawk location in Maryland. Cooper's Hawk is expected to open this summer.

Windsor posts Coming Soon signage at Montgomery Mall

Windsor, a women's fashion boutique, has posted some "Coming Soon" signage on their future space at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The company began in 1937 as a lingerie and hosiery store owned by two brothers. Now best known for their special occasion dress line, Windsor boasts 200 stores nationwide.

The company is now hiring staff for the new Montgomery Mall store. Their space is located on Level 1 by GNC. Windsor will open this spring.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Olio Nails & Spa opens in Rockville

Olio Nails & Spa is now open at the Research Row shopping center in Rockville at 1403 Research Boulevard, Unit 102. They are easiest to find if you enter the shopping center from the W. Montgomery Avenue entrance, as they are on the back side of the building that Robeks Juice will be in, a side you can't see from the center's most-popular businesses Chick-fil-A and Onelife Fitness.

Sign installed at Robeks Juice in Rockville

The permanent sign has been installed at Robeks Juice at 1403 Research Boulevard, Unit A-7 at the Research Row shopping center. Construction inside looks like they are getting close to opening day. There's a lighted sign inside already lit up that reads, "Robeks Rockville."

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Public hearings set for Rockville 2040 Comprehensive Master Plan

A three-year public process to update and revise a comprehensive master plan for the entire City of Rockville is coming to a close as the public will now have a chance to weigh in the document, which will then be voted on by the Mayor and Council. Public hearings on the Rockville 2040 plan will be held at City Hall on Wednesday, May 15, 2019; Wednesday, May 22, 2019; and Tuesday, June 4, 2019, all beginning at 7:00 PM.

You can review the Rockville 2040 draft plan online before preparing your testimony. There will also be public information sessions on the plan at City Hall on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 from 6:30-9:00 PM, and on Saturday, May 11, 2019 from 9:30 AM to noon.

More Montgomery County headlines:

Suburban News Network - MoCo's leading local news source

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Montgomery County Council unanimously approves Veirs Mill sector plan

Pro-developer plan will increase
commuting time, destroy affordable 
housing, demolish homes & businesses

The "new" members of the "new" 2018 Montgomery County Council faced their first test of loyalties Tuesday, as they voted on the controversial and unpopular Veirs Mill sector plan. Well, as I warned everyone during last year's election, the "new" Council proved to be just like the old Council, but worse. Without Marc Elrich on the body, all nine councilmembers voted for the pro-developer plan.

Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass, Will Jawando and Hans Riemer all received thousands of dollars in developer contribution in 2018. And their "Yes!" votes yesterday were a thank-you to their developer sugar daddies for the hefty election help.

The plan will allow demolition of single-family homes and businesses along the Veirs Mill corridor between Wheaton and Rockville. Changes to the layout of Veirs Mill Road, reduced speed limits, reduction of left-turn lanes, and longer stoplights are estimated to extend travel times for commuters up to 35 additional minutes on the already-congested road. Single-family home and public recreation properties are rezoned for mixed-use, "town-center" urban-style development in the plan.
The developer-driven plan will allow
clearcutting of this wonderful green space...

...and demolition of several homes behind it on
Robindale Drive, Adrian Street and Weiss Street,
replacing them with a steel-and-concrete urban
town center development
A fake "no net loss" program devised by Riemer's staff will allow demolition of naturally-occurring affordable housing such as Halpine View. While it purports to create just as many new MPDUs, most people who will lose their homes in Halpine View and other properties make too much in salary to qualify for MPDUs, creating a net-loss in affordable housing in the plan area. And even the MPDUs soon expire and revert to market-rate housing permanently.

This is the same thing the Council is allowing to happen on Battery Lane and Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, where many people who can't afford market-rate single-family homes and newer apartments - but who make too much to qualify for MPDUs - currently live. They've already done it in Glenmont, where many residents of apartments like the wonderful Privacy World were forced out never to return to Glenmont.
The Council-approved plan allows this
tree-lined green Montgomery County-owned
property at 4010 Randolph Road to be redeveloped
as a steel-and-concrete urban town center - and
you can bet the Council will sell it to one of their
developer sugar daddies at a sweetheart price!
Halpine View, Rock Creek Woods, Halpine Hamlet, Parkway Woods and other apartment complexes are now rezoned to encourage demolition, and replacement with urban-style, luxury apartment "town centers."

Even while failing to defend the interests of current homeowners, business owners and commuters who are paying record high taxes, the Council bizarrely found time to add a racially-charged political diatribe to the plan. To score political points, and create division among residents, the Council added a section that falsely claims racial covenants ensured the communities around Veirs Mill Road were white-only. In fact, enforcement of such covenants was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948.

The Veirs Mill sector plan as passed will displace thousands of residents, greatly increase traffic congestion, and radically transform the existing green, suburban character of Veirs Mill Road to a stifling corridor of vehicle exhaust and boxy steel-and-concrete Soviet apartment blocs. It was hard to believe that even some civic groups were fooled that the "new" Council would bring back residents' role in planning decisions, and not vote for this kind of pro-developer sector plan. Now it's just plan laughable.

You got steamrolled again.

You can't say I didn't warn you. And while media outlets like the Washington Post colluded with the Montgomery County cartel to prevent candidates like me from getting our message out, I certainly did notice the sheepish smiles of some "woke" voters who knew it was morally wrong to vote for Albornoz, Glass, Jawando and Riemer, who clearly did not represent the change they were claiming to seek in the planning process. Voting simply to ensure a sweep of all nine Council seats by one monopoly party was a really bad idea, now with tragic results for yet another Montgomery County community with this sector plan.

Next up: Aspen Hill. Fasten your seatbelts, folks.

Montgomery Village rape suspect sketch released

Montgomery County police have released a sketch of the Montgomery Village rape suspect, the latest incident made public as reports of rape continue to surge in the County. Detectives report that the white male suspect followed a woman after she got off a Ride On bus in the 19300 block of Watkins Mill Road Saturday night, April 20, around 10:15 PM. Realizing the man was following her, the victim began to run. The suspect then knocked the woman down, dragged her into a grassy area by the nearby woods, raped her, and fled.

The victim went home, and then to a local hospital, where the police were called. She identified the suspect to detectives as a white male in his late 20s, with brown hair. She said he is approximately 6-feet-tall, and weighs about 180 pounds. The suspect also has a tattoo behind his left ear, and was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. Based on the sketch, the sweatshirt has a hood.

Detectives are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect or who may have information about this rape to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050.  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 to their line that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Reports of rape skyrocketed by 53% in mid-2018, according to an official police department memo submitted to the County Council. Police recently reported that rapes had spiked 28% by the end of 2018. The County Council has been silent on the surge in rapes in Montgomery County, and their allies in the local press colluded to silence the topic during the 2018 Council election. I was outspoken on the importance of the issue during the campaign, and my words have been vindicated by the continued increase in reports of rape.

Wake up, folks! Public indifference, and the propagandizing Pravda-style media coverage of County government, are perhaps the biggest challenges we face. The people of Montgomery County need to avail themselves of the information being provided by this Suburban News Network website, start asking why the Council has failed to take action, and begin intelligently voting for councilmembers who will actually take the problem of violence against women seriously.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Proposed Rockville sign regulations update before Planning Commission Wednesday

Businesses getting the attention of potential customers driving through Rockville might become even more challenging under changes proposed for the city's sign regulations. Those changes will be considered for final recommendations to the Mayor and Council by the Planning Commission Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

City staff have suggested outlawing pole signs in favor of ground-level "monument signs." Staff has also suggested the Commission declare existing pole signs as "nonconforming," and require them to be removed in eight years. You may notice that without such signs out at the property edge on Rockville Pike, for example, it's very hard to notice businesses set back from the road while driving.

The proposed changes would also eliminate the Sign Review Board, and have its primary functions reassigned to the Board of Appeals. To see changes that might affect your business or neighborhood sales and activities, review the staff report online before tomorrow night's meeting.

More Montgomery County headlines:

Suburban News Network - MoCo's leading local news source

Monday, April 22, 2019

Dream Aero Flight Simulator coming to Westfield Montgomery Mall in 2020

Westfield Montgomery Mall patrons will take to the skies next year without leaving the Bethesda mall. Dream Aero, a flight simulator similar to those used to train actual pilots, will arrive at a location on Level 3. Level 3? Could this be replacing the long-delayed Japanese steakhouse outside the ArcLight Cinemas? That's the only space available on Level 3.

Dream Aero is currently available in malls in places like Dubai and Moscow, where it provides an accurate simulation of flying a Boeing 737. It's an authentic closed-cockpit, moving simulator just like professional pilots use. Sessions are priced by length of time, with VIPs getting 120 minutes behind the controls. Westfield says more details about the specifics of their flight simulator operation will be available in the future. But for now, this sounds like a great innovation to add to Montgomery Mall as another entertainment option.

Also coming sooner to the mall are Eyebobs and Windsor. To be located on Level 2 in the Macy's wing, Eyebobs is an "irreverent" eyewear retailer opening this summer. Windsor is a women's apparel and accessories boutique, and will open this fall on Level 1 in the Old Navy wing.

Photos courtesy Westfield

Addition proposed for Collingswood nursing home in Rockville

The owners of Collingswood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at 299 Hurley Avenue in Rockville have proposed a new addition to the building. In a submission to planning staff, the applicant says the addition will not increase the footprint of the nursing home.

Instead, the plan is to convert the existing Family Dining and Activities Room with several adjacent rooms, and the porch above the entrance into a new Physical and Occupational Therapy space. That will change the exterior appearance of the building, by replacing the classic balcony with an enclosure. The applicant calls the change "a contemporary look." Not mentioned in the application is what provision will be made for families, and for patients who were able to enjoy fresh air on the porch, after the addition is completed.

The lobby will also expand into current office space, and the existing Therapy room will become a Conference Room under the proposal. If approved, construction could begin this fall.

No site plan is currently available. Collingswood was acquired from the original owners by a private-equity firm two months ago.

More Montgomery County news:

Suburban News Network - Montgomery County's leading local news source

Friday, April 19, 2019

More "signs" of Barnes & Noble moving to Congressional Plaza in Rockville

Barnes & Noble won't be moving from Montrose Crossing to Congressional Plaza for more than another year. But their first "Coming Soon" signage has already gone up at their future space. Barnes & Noble is currently scheduled to downsize into this new format store in the summer of 2020.

Sports Nation moves at Montgomery Mall

Sporting goods retailer Sports Nation has moved upstairs to Level 2 at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Their new location is across from the future 7-Eleven store.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rockville HDC approval sought for demolition of Beall Avenue home

515 Beall Avenue
The owner of a ranch home at 515 Beall Avenue in West End Park is seeking to tear the house down, and has applied for a ruling of historic significance from the Rockville Historic District Commission. While the West End Park subdivision first saw Victorian homes constructed in the 1890s, according to the HDC staff report, this ranch home was built in 1952 as part of the post-war wave of suburban growth in Rockville.

Preservation planner Sheila Bashiri has recommended against historic designation of the home, and that it meets none of the criteria for historic preservation. The HDC will review the application and report at their meeting tonight, April 18, 2019 at 7:30 PM. This demolition request will very likely be approved, as two very large new-construction homes have already been built adjacent to 515 Beall.
New home proposed for
21 Martins Lane
The HDC will also provide a courtesy review of a new home proposed for 21 Martins Lane. This two-story home would be on a lot behind the historic Hebron House at 17 Martins Lane, in the Haiti/Martins Lane community. Staff is suggesting the HDC encourage the homebuilder to add more windows to what will otherwise be large, blank exterior walls.

More Montgomery County headlines:

Suburban News Network - Montgomery County's leading local news source

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

12 Stories opening at The Wharf: D.C. is doing what moribund MoCo won't for nightlife

Montgomery County is still reeling from the collapse of its nighttime economy following the County Council's disastrous Nighttime Economy Task Force initiative. Where there were crowds on sidewalks and corners outside of downtown Bethesda's nightclubs and bars prior to the initiative, 16 nightspots have shuttered since the task force debacle. Many other businesses slashed or eliminated their late-night hours. Downtown Bethesda sidewalks now grow empty and quiet after 9 or 10 PM. Thousands of young professionals have taken their wallets and purses to the District for nightlife since, including to The Wharf, where an exciting new rooftop will open tonight.

I recommended years ago that Montgomery County put incentives and requirements for nightlife, including rooftop nightclubs at the new hotels being approved for urban areas like downtown Bethesda. Those suggestions fell on deaf ears at the Council and Planning Board, as of course, it is much cheaper to put up a hotel with a non-active roof use. Naturally, our developer-controlled Council and Planning Board never put the public before the developers, which is how we ended up with no replacement cineplex and no replacement Capital Crescent Trail tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue in the Apex Building redevelopment - even though the Council and Board held full authority to require both. Heckuva job, Brownie!

By contrast, the District is getting its latest rooftop nightspot tonight, April 17, 2019 with the debut of 12 Stories, high atop The InterContinental Hotel at The Wharf. The 3500 SF rooftop features spectacular views of the Potomac River, waterfront and Washington, D.C. We could have had something like this on top of the new hotels coming to Wisconsin Avenue here, but...the Council was too busy collecting developer checks, and debating a ban on circus animals instead.
Current and prospective MoCo bar and restaurant
owners said, "Yes, Yes, Yes!" to privatization of liquor
sales, but our cartel-controlled County Council said, "No, No, No!"
At 12 Stories at The Wharf tonight, 13-foot floor-to-ceiling windows will give you views of the Jefferson, Lincoln and Air Force Memorials, as well as the pinnacle of the Washington Monument and Hains Point. From the future Marriott hotel in downtown Bethesda, nighttime will give you lovely views of car dealerships and a concrete parking garage. So much winning!
The J Street Spritz at
12 Stories at The Wharf
Tonight at 12 Stories at The Wharf, you could be sipping a zero-degree “Superchilled Martini 24” and taking in the sweeping vistas of the Nation's Capital. Perhaps you would prefer a “J Street Spritz,” made with Tito’s Vodka, Amaro Nonino, lime juice, raspberries, Domaine Chandon and sparkling soda. It's enough to make Jack Evans bust out the old Constituent Fund.

All that's busting in Montgomery County is the County budget, in the red again this year, with residents facing yet another increase in property taxes. With what the Maryland Restaurant Association complained was a "flat" restaurant and bar market in Montgomery County, record numbers of closures, and profits declining in a business with thin margins already, we're losing nightlife spending and alcohol sales to the District and Virginia, thanks to our archaic County government-controlled liquor monopoly.
The Wharf Burger
Just some of that lost revenue will end up being spent in D.C. at 12 Stories, where brunch will be added in May to a windows-on-the-capital-of-the-free-world menu that tonight already features locally sourced oysters, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, and a ceviche-style crudo.

While Montgomery County's "leaders" turn to taxpayers again this year for yet another payday 4.8% property tax increase, the developers of The Wharf in D.C. turned to the Gerber Group, the geniuses behind NYC’s Mr. Purple, The Roof and The Campbell, and Atlanta's Whiskey Blue, "known for its signature elevated nightlife experience and top-notch food and beverage," it says.

Montgomery County's vision for an "elevated nightlife experience?" "More taxi stands [ever heard of Uber and Lyft, guys?], more buses," and continued total monopoly government control of liquor sales to restaurants, bars and the public. No wonder Montgomery County is at rock bottom in the region by every relevant economic development measure.

They blew it, folks.

Photos by Anna Meyer

Five Below to move up Rockville Pike

Five Below, the $5-or-less discount store located at Federal Plaza on Rockville Pike, is planning to move "just up the Pike." Their new space will be at the Congressional North shopping center, right next to the new Aldi grocery store. 

Teel Construction is the contractor for the fit-out of the new store, and work is now underway. 1503 Rockville Pike will be the store's new address.

More Montgomery County news:

Suburban News Network - Montgomery County's leading local news source

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mattress Warehouse to move at Metro Pike Center in Rockville

Metro Pike Center has finally found a tenant for the long-vacant Jennifer Convertibles space at 11520-A Rockville Pike. Mattress Warehouse has signed a lease with property owner Saul Centers for the space. Construction is just getting underway inside the future mattress showroom. Mattress Warehouse currently has a larger existing store at Metro Pike Center, at 11550 Rockville Pike.

More Montgomery County news:

Suburban News Network - Montgomery County's leading local news source

Monday, April 15, 2019

Crave closed at Montgomery Mall, Cinnabon opens

Crave American Kitchen & Sushi Bar has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The closure leaves a large dining space vacant, which could be turned into a winning opportunity by Westfield if they can attract another big name on the level of next-door neighbor The Cheesecake Factory. With the planned addition of Olive Garden at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza clearly having fallen through, I would strongly urge them to pursue an Olive Garden here.

Is the Crave spot a bad location? No, because Cheesecake Factory has been tremendously successful in the adjacent space. While Crave had a wide-ranging menu with mass appeal for the mall-going crowd, other issues appear to have done them in. The restaurant rarely appeared crowded when I passed it.
Packing crates inside Crave Sunday

Last call at the bar

Would you like to see an
Olive Garden in this space?
In other mall news, as I reported Friday, Cinnabon opened this weekend in the Dining Terrace. And the long painful exit of Gymboree has finally come to an end. They have closed, and their space is being cleared out.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Cinnabon to open this weekend at Montgomery Mall

The return of Cinnabon is upon us. I've been seeing increased construction activity at their space in recent weeks. Now Westfield Montgomery Mall reports that the bakery no real mall can be without will be opening this weekend. Look for Cinnabon in the Dining Terrace next to Urban Plates, by the escalator.

Rockville chosen for microtransit pilot program

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is launching a pilot program to test microtransit in Rockville, Wheaton, and Glenmont. Riders would be able to request a small shuttle bus from designated pickup and drop-off points using an app on their phones. They would receive an estimated time of arrival for the bus.

A public hearing on the pilot will be held on Thursday, April 25, 2019, at 6:30 PM at A. Mario Loiederman Middle School, which is located at 12701 Goodhill Road off Weller Road in Silver Spring. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak, and to learn more about the pilot program.

MCDOT has released these two (very blurry) maps showing the zones for the pilot. In Rockville, the pilot zone appears to include Rockville Town Center, Hungerford and part of Rockville Pike near those areas.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Story House bookmobile opens bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Rockville

The Story House, a trolley bookmobile marketing books to children and families in Rockville for the last two years, has just opened a bricks-and-mortar location at Rockville Town Square. It is located inside of Dawson's Market at 225 N. Washington Street. Books also remain for sale aboard the trolley. The Story House at Dawson's Market is open from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Rockville construction update: Main Street apartments (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress at the construction site of the future Main Street apartments at 50 Monroe Place. This is a very unique project in Rockville, and in the region. 25% of the units will be set aside for the disabled, and 75% will be affordable.

The development is on the former site of the historic IBM office building, and was previously going to be redeveloped as senior housing before that project fell through. That opened up the opportunity for Main Street, and the non-profit quickly moved on it.