Thursday, November 21, 2019

Randolph Crossing Rite Aid becoming Walgreens

The Rite Aid store at 12222 Veirs Mill Road is being converted into a Walgreens. Walgreens acquired Rite Aid in 2015, and has taken three approaches to its stores: keep the Rite Aid brand, but convert the store's pharmacy into a Walgreens; convert the store into a full-blown Walgreens location; or close the store entirely.
Here we are getting an actual Walgreens. I'm still a Drug Fair man, the chain whose D.C.-area stores were acquired by Rite Aid in 1987. The more things change...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Shady Grove Fertility named "top docs" for infertility by peers

Fourteen physicians at Shady Grove Fertility in Rockville were named the Washington, D.C.-area's Top Docs for infertility by a survey of 13,000 of their peers conducted by Washingtonian magazine. The winners were reproductive endocrinologists, Eric Widra, M.D., Michael Levy, M.D., Arthur Sagoskin, M.D., Anitha Nair, M.D., Andrea Reh, M.D., Kimberly Moon, M.D., Naveed Khan, M.D., Paulette Browne, M.D., Eric Levens, M.D., Jeanne O'Brien, M.D., Frank Chang, M.D., Joseph Doyle, M.D., and reproductive urologists, Paul Shin, M.D., and Cori Tanrikut, M.D.

"I feel privileged to be a part of a practice that is committed to supporting the needs of our patients, and most importantly, helping them to achieve their dream of parenthood," SGF co-founder Arthur Sagoskin, M.D. said Tuesday. "We thank our patients, peers, and Washingtonian for their recognition and continued support." SGF has delivered 85000 babies since it opened in 1991.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Rockville's Lockheed Martin Distributed Energy Solutions acquired by TRC Cos.

TRC Companies, a Northern Virginia-based engineering consulting firm, has acquired Lockheed Martin Distributed Energy Solutions of Rockville. LM-DES provides services to some of the top electric and gas utilities nationwide, TRC said in its announcement this morning.

“This acquisition positions us to capitalize on a fast-evolving energy market and continue to meet the growing needs of our clients," TRC CEO Chris Vincze said this morning. "The move reinforces our strategic growth strategy and advances our ability to deliver innovative, fully integrated solutions for any Advanced Energy project.”

LM-DES' Roger Flanagan will become Senior Vice-President for Advanced Energy at TRC as part of the deal. The former Lockheed division has 400 employees spread across nearly a dozen states.

Monday, November 18, 2019

More Christmas decorations installed at Westfield Montgomery Mall! (Photos)

Westfield wasn't finished decorating for the holidays at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. They've added a bunch of new trees, candy canes, Christmas mints, ornaments and assorted other trimmings around the mall. And I caught Santa Claus on his throne this time, getting ready to take photos with mall patrons. Can the start of Black Friday, which falls on Thanksgiving these days, really only be ten days away? You better believe it! Christmas shopping excitement is in the air.

Historic Wire Building for sale again in Rockville

The Wire Hardware building, subject of one of Rockville's biggest historic preservation battles in the 1990s, is up for sale again. Saved and restored by local historic preservation organization Peerless Rockville, the building was originally constructed for resident William Wallace Welsh in 1895. The asking price is not being publicly listed online, but can be requested. 22 Baltimore Road has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Rockville Mayor & Council winners to be sworn in at inauguration Sunday

The winners of the 2019 election for Mayor and Council of Rockville will be sworn in at an inauguration ceremony this Sunday, November 17, at 1:00 PM at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at 603 Edmonston Drive. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and councilmembers Monique Ashton, Beryl L. Feinberg, David Myles and Mark Pierzchala will take the oath of office. The Mayor and Council will hold their first meeting of the new term the next evening, Monday, November 18, at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

ICE captures sex abuse suspect MoCo released after 3 days at large

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers located a man accused of sexually abusing a child in Montgomery County hiding in Virginia, three days after Montgomery County released him from jail. ICE found Luis Fredy Hernandez-Morales, 48, in Springfield, Virginia on Friday.

ICE officials blasted Montgomery County for not honoring its detainer on Hernandez-Morales, saying the County had put children in Montgomery County and Northern Virginia at risk while he remained at-large. In a statement, ICE called Hernandez-Morales' release "the latest in a continuing list of public safety threats Montgomery County, MD has released into the community rather than allow a lawful transfer into ICE custody."

"This case shows how the noncooperation policies of one jurisdiction can have serious public safety impacts on its neighbors,” ICE Washington Field Office Director Russell Hott said yesterday. Hernandez-Morales is involved with the youth ministry program at Iglesia de Dios en Cristo, located on W. Diamond Avenue in Gaithersburg, Montgomery County police have said. They have expressed concern that there may be additional child victims in this case.

Police seek suspect in attempted burglary of Derwood Gulf station

A man tried and failed to break into the Gulf gas station at 15805 Frederick Road in Derwood, and now police are seeking your help in finding him. The suspect attempted to break a window at the service station Tuesday morning at 3:25 AM. Unable to do so, he fled on foot.

WATCH: Video of Gulf suspect

Investigators are asking anyone with information regarding this suspect to call the 1st District Investigative Section at 240-773-6084. 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 them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

MD, VA agree on Capital Beltway Accord, American Legion Bridge widening

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a historic Capital Beltway Accord at a joint appearance at the Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington, D.C. yesterday. The bi-state agreement, which does not yet specify a timetable for completion, would widen the failing American Legion Bridge between the two states by adding tolled Express Lanes on and near the bridge. The states would split the cost, with the heaviest burden being picked up by Maryland, and both states expecting tolls will cover the entire $1 billion projected expense.

The accord also puts the backburnered Hogan plan for Express Lanes on the Beltway between the Legion Bridge and I-95 back on the table. No details on the staging of the that project in relation to the bridge widening were put forward Tuesday. The bridge changes would almost certainly fail to solve congestion if the new Express Lanes end at River Road instead of I-95, as they would only create another choke point there.

Adding Express Lanes to the Beltway and I-270 won't take the place of a new Potomac River crossing, which would take about 25% of rush hour traffic off of the Legion Bridge, according to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study earlier this decade. They won't provide the direct access to Dulles International Airport from Montgomery County that international businesspeople have made clear they require to consider locating their headquarters here.

In fact, without a new Potomac River bridge north of the Legion Bridge - and major changes to County and Maryland tax and regulation schemes, Tuesday's accord would simply be another victory for Virginia and the crafty Northam from an economic development standpoint. Improved travel times for non-Dulles-related traffic on the Beltway would certainly help all of us, and are absolutely worthy of public support. But without direct Dulles access and a competitive business climate, the Beltway accord will simply reinforce our position as the bedroom community for the booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

The accord is a win for Hogan, however, as he considers a surprisingly-strong bid for the U.S. Senate. If he stands his ground on the Potomac-to-I-95 Beltway Express Lanes this time, Hogan will have delivered a start on major traffic relief on both failing interstates in Montgomery County in time for the 2022 election. Hogan was also the governor to finally get the new Nice Bridge project moving after decades of delay; that structure is scheduled to be well under-construction by the time he would take on Van Hollen.

Hogan hasn't even been grandstanding to the extent he could on transportation. He has quietly delivered new improvements on I-270 - such as new feeder lanes that allow entering vehicles from some ramps to proceed on the freeway without having to merge - over the last year. Surprisingly, he hasn't called a press conference to crow about these small but significant traffic flow upgrades.

Considering Van Hollen's weak legislative record, scandalous history of conspiring to reduce African-American turnout in his 2016 primary run against Congresswoman Donna Edwards (earning a rebuke from Hillary Clinton herself in the process), and Hogan's bipartisan support, this could be a top-tier contest. Neither man excites the core base of his party. But if these transportation projects move forward, Hogan will have done something Van Hollen hasn't in over a decade - deliver actual change for his constituents.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Federal Realty posts renderings of FITRow at Congressional Plaza in Rockville (Photos)

A first hint of what to expect from the first floor entrance of FITRow is now on display at Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. Three fitness centers will take vacant retail space in a redesigned section of the shopping center in 2020, under the FITRow branding. Already on board are orangetheory fitness and Corepower Yoga; a third space is still available for lease. You can see there will be a lobby area to the left of the existing escalators.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Sunday Kitchen & Bath goes dark in Rockville

The windows at Sunday Kitchen & Bath at Rockville Town Square were blacked out on Sunday with window coverings. According to landlord Federal Realty, the space at 156 Gibbs Street is now available for lease.

How the storefront looked last week
before the windows were covered

Friday, November 8, 2019

Golden Samovar contents to be auctioned off next week

A "3-year new upscale restaurant is shutting its doors and making a complete, urgent liquidation. Rockville, Maryland," states an online auction listing. The photographs appear to match Golden Samovar at Rockville Town Square. According to the listing, the auction will take place online on November 13, and items will be removed the next day.

Among the 183 items listed are bar equipment, four microwaves, the cash register, the "Open" sign, chandeliers, the chairs, the tables, the booths, sinks, stoves, refrigerators, and even a butane torch and the swinging door to the kitchen.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

NTB closes Derwood location in Rockville

NTB has closed its Derwood-area store at 15609 Frederick Road in Rockville. They are directing customers to the NTB location down the road at 379 Hungerford Drive. NTB recently rebranded the Merchants Tire & Auto locations they purchased as NTB.

MoCo Council approves budget-busting developer-backed housing scheme

The Montgomery County Council quietly adopted a developer-backed regional housing scheme in a unanimous vote Wednesday. A vote that received little attention from the local media, and was preceded by no public process to promote taxpayer buy-in. Why was that? Probably because the plan, along with the almost-certain Kirwan Commission spending increases ahead, is likely to bankrupt Montgomery County and lead to massive future tax hikes. And because each of the nine councilmembers has accepted thousands of dollars from their developer sugar daddies.

Only the Council itself appeared eager to brag about its vote in a press release yesterday. But braggadocio doesn't substitute for mathematics aptitude nor budgeting skill, as the Council's annual structural budget deficit proves. The Council just put you, the taxpayer, on the hook for a massive spending increase - in education, social services, police and fire, health care, and developer tax giveaways - even as they (presumably?) know there's no way in hell future councils will be able to pay for it.

What does approving the developer-backed Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' "regional housing targets" actually mean? It obligates Montgomery County to build 23000+ new housing units for low and middle-income residents by 2030, in addition to those already planned. The County Council couldn't even be honest about that in the press release, which falsely claimed the number as 10,000 additional low-income units.
The initiative sounds good, and like most developer initiatives, it's meant to. The reality is, the scheme is all about developer profits, and taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

MWCOG itself predicts that 75% of the new residents coming to Montgomery County by 2030 will be low or mid-income residents. That not only means they will contribute little in tax revenue to the county, but that spending will have to skyrocket to provide the services and infrastructure such a population surge would require.

This would be difficult enough of a fiscal equation to square - massive new spending, with only 25% of the new residents able to shoulder the huge costs. But then you look at the bigger picture, and the alarm bells really start going off.

Montgomery County's moribund economy, job creation, business starts, and business growth are all rock-bottom in the regional rankings this decade. Despite record-high tax rates and tax hikes, revenue is actually declining, even as the County Council continues to spend more. Many of the ultra-wealthy have fled Montgomery County to lower-tax jurisdictions in our region, taking huge chunks of revenue that used to balance the County budget with them. Greater spending, fewer revenue-generating simply doesn't add up, no matter what brand of calculator you use.
Then you look at the debt and cost obligations of the County. The bond rating agencies have already criticized the current Council's budgetary dirty tricks, which have failed to adequately fund government retiree health benefits, for example. Our councilmembers might be shocked to learn that even governments have to pay their bills. How such incompetent people were allowed to take power is a sad commentary on the sham, Soviet-style 2018 election, which had no general election debates or local media coverage of the County Council races. Joseph Stalin would be proud.

Debt is skyrocketing. If the County's current debt was a department, it would be the third-largest department in the County budget. The last thing a sane elected official would do in that situation is agree to a massive spending increase.
Finally, there's the coming budgetary atomic bomb: The Kirwan Commission. Kirwan is the biggest threat to the County's fiscal health since the state threatened to make the County pay more toward teacher pensions earlier this decade.

Kirwan is proposing astronomical amounts of new education spending, with no appreciable change in the actual curriculum or methods. Spending on education has already been jacked up year after year by the Council, to no avail. Test scores and graduation rates continue to decline, while the achievement gap remains the same or worsens.
Spending hikes proposed by the Kirwan Commission would literally be flushing good money after bad down the MCPS toilet. Money isn't the problem at MCPS. And don't forget, the maintenance-of-effort-on-steroids law adopted by Maryland will require us to maintain that level of spending into the future. There is no escape once these spending increases are approved.

Taken together, the housing targets adoption and the Council's rabid desire to adopt the Kirwan recommendations on the backs of the taxpayers, have placed Montgomery County on an accelerated course to fiscal oblivion. We can't go on like this.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rockville election results 2019

Newton reelected,
Rockville Forward slate
takes voting majority

Unofficial Rockville election results for Mayor and five City Council seats were released by the City of Rockville at 1:29 AM this morning. The numbers currently show incumbent Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton being reelected, and the Rockville Forward slate taking a voting majority on the City Council. Unofficial winners for City Council are Monique Ashton, incumbent Beryl Feinberg, David Myles, and incumbent Mark Pierzchala. 

Ashton and Feinberg ran on the Rockville Forward slate with Newton. With the Mayor having equal voting power to a Councilmember, that would give Rockville Forward a 3-vote majority, and control of the direction of the city for the next four years. Myles and Pierzchala ran on the Team Rockville slate.

This was the first vote-by-mail election in Rockville, and the City announced heavy turnout at the end of the voting day Tuesday, as well as a largely-expected increase in voter participation. 12, 213 ballots were cast by mail or at City Hall. The City cited the increased number of ballots as the reason for the delay in election results Tuesday evening.

The new voter universe appears to have broken the voters' seeming preference for divided government over the last decade. In recent past elections, voters wanted Newton as Mayor, but gave Team Rockville a 3-vote majority. Newton has sought to manage the city's growth, while Team Rockville favored a more-agressive urban density. This year, voters seem to be comfortable with the direction Newton has charted, and have rewarded her with a Council majority.

Having said that, slates don't always work out the way they are expected to. Team Rockville City Councilmember Virginia Onley, who ran for mayor against Newton Tuesday, broke with her slate to side with Newton and Feinberg on some votes. Seeing how each member votes on particular issues in the coming term will be interesting to watch, especially newcomers Ashton and Myles.

The election results will be certified on Tuesday, November 12.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Bangkok Garden Rockville sets opening date

Bangkok Garden's new Rockville location at Wintergreen Plaza at 891-D Rockville Pike now has an opening date. The Thai street food concept will open this Friday, November 8, 2019, according to their Facebook page.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Playa Bowls construction update

Playa Bowls is getting closer to opening at Cabin John Village shopping center in Potomac. Here's a look at the construction progress.

Luxury Beauty & Nails coming to Montgomery Mall, Sheepskin & Alpaca Too opens

There will soon be a new salon option at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Luxury Beauty & Nails will open for the holidays next to Candy World on Level 2, in the Dining Terrace area. Speaking of the holidays, this is always the most wonderful time of the year at the mall, as they gear up for Black Friday and Christmas. Expect to see seasonal stores and pop-up kiosks open again.
First to return is perennial retailer Sheepskin Gifts & Alpaca Too. Warm and comfortable winter clothing from Peru is their specialty. Find them this year next to the Apple Store and Madewell on Level 2. Just look for this guy:

Friday, November 1, 2019

Baronessa restaurant for sale in Rockville

Baronessa, an Italian restaurant at 1302 E. Gude Drive in Rockville, is being offered for sale. The asking price is $525,000, according to an online listing. Baronessa remains open for business.