Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Audi Rockville showroom opens

The newly-built Audi Rockville showroom is now open for business at 1125 Rockville Pike. For most of the year, the dealership has been handling customers across the Pike at 1190 Rockville Pike. The new building has a German-inspired design.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bangkok Garden Rockville menu (Photos)

I got a hold of a menu for Bangkok Garden at Wintergreen Plaza in Rockville. Click on each image to enlarge the pages. Bangkok Garden's address is 891-D Rockville Pike, and their phone number is 301-545-2848.

Friday, December 27, 2019

How did Montgomery County fail to attract yet another Fortune 500 HQ?

Montgomery County officials have failed yet again to attract a major corporate headquarters; the county hasn't attracted a single one in over twenty years. Fortune 500 financial services giant Schwab was looking for an escape plan from California, a state that is an economic powerhouse but seemingly doing all it can to relinquish that title. Texas, as it so often is, was the winning suitor. An excellent article in the Dallas Morning News explains why suburban paradise Westlake, Texas crushed Montgomery County in the bidding war for Schwab.

Our elected officials, and their few supporters among county residents, continue to suffer from a severe case of Lake Wobegon syndrome. With no critical press corps, massive voter fraud, and unlimited money from the local political cartel, they've been free to continue believing that every day, in every way, Montgomery County is getting better and better.

"There’s a cachet associated with Westlake," the Morning News reports. "Westlake is one of the nation’s premier suburban markets. It has great schools, great hospitals, great gated communities, a lot of celebrities, athletes and former athletes live in that area. It’s highly desirable for the types of executives and high net worth individuals that will be working on this new campus."

In contrast, Montgomery County Public Schools have steadily declined this decade, with test scores and graduation rates plunging, and a widening achievement gap. Many of the ultra-rich who don't share the radical, Neo-Communist views of the Montgomery County Council have fled to lower-tax jurisdictions in our region, tanking County revenues in the process.

Transportation and airport access remain critical to corporate relocation decisions.

"The qualitative parts of site selection that a Schwab would look at have to do with lifestyle amenities like transportation assets. Dallas also enjoys unique access to the global marketplace with major air service."

Montgomery County, on the other hand, has nation-leading traffic congestion, an incomplete highway network that County officials have openly boasted they will not complete, and no direct access to Dulles International Airport, the only airport in the region with the frequency and international destinations of flights demanded by international businesspeople.

County officials have refused to construct the new Potomac River crossing to Dulles that would provide that direct access.

Also important, according to the article, are "the relationships with local elected officials. Are they pro-growth like the folks in the Dallas are? Or do they tend to be anti-business, like elected officials in the Bay Area?"

Montgomery County is clearly in the anti-business category, as demonstrated by its rock-bottom economic development status in the region. MoCo was even whipped by Culpeper and Rappahanock counties this decade. Now that's embarrassing.

Once again, the need to be a desirable destination for millennials and Generation Z is a significant factor. "Fortunately for cities like Houston, Austin and Dallas, you have high in-migration rates of working professionals and young people."

Young professionals are avoiding Montgomery County like the plague, by comparison. MoCo shares the "out-of-control housing costs" of California, and is busy approving demolition of what affordable housing exists - with a redevelopment of Battery Lane that will deliver a net loss of affordable units being the latest.

The County Council's disastrous Nighttime Economy Task Force effort ended up destroying the nighttime economy, with 18 nightspots closing in downtown Bethesda alone in its wake. Young people are going just about anywhere but Montgomery County for nightlife, as it continues to grow its reputation as the boring and sleepy bedroom community for the booming job centers elsewhere in our region.

One new factor not really discussed before is the concern of shareholders. The Morning News reports that choosing a business-friendly HQ site like Texas or Tennessee pleases shareholders, who can expect greater profit margins as a result.

Business friendliness is especially important when the national economy goes south, the paper notes.

"There's an enormous amount of uncertainty about the economy. What the economy will look like a couple of years from now with respect to potential tax increases, regulations and uncertain trade issues.

"And that’s really bringing back a focus on the old fashioned cost-of-doing-business business climate analysis. Because states that will best weather the storm of an economic downturn are states like Texas and Florida that have pro-business policies, low taxes, fiscal restraint."

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Rockville's Marstudio named Business of the Year

Rockville branding and marketing firm Marstudio has a prominent location on MD 355 by Rockville Town Square. It now has the title of "Business of the Year," as well. The Rockville Chamber of Commerce named Marstudio business of the year at its annual Rockstar Awards ceremony at the Manor Country Club.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hogan follows Trump in creating new Christmas Eve holiday

Days after President Donald Trump surprised federal workers with a new holiday designation for Christmas Eve, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan provided the same Christmas Eve bonus to state workers. Today, December 24, 2019, is now an official state holiday. Maryland state government agencies and offices will be closed today in observance of Christmas Eve.
“I am declaring Christmas Eve a state holiday this year to give our dedicated employees more time to spend with their families and loved ones,” Hogan said in a statement. “We hope that our hardworking state workers, and all Marylanders, have a merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season.”

Interesting trivia: The last president to give federal workers a full holiday on Christmas Eve was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Montgomery Mall gift wrapping benefits Friends of Patients at the NIH

Last-minute shoppers can save time on gift wrapping, and raise spirits of patients being treated at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, at Westfield Montgomery Mall. Bring your purchases to the pop-up Gift Wrapping center on Level 1 by Zara. Most boxing and wrapping will cost you from $5 to $12, and all proceeds will go to provide emotional and financial support to NIH patients through Friends of Patients at the NIH, and to the NIH children's cancer charity Special Love.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Rockville biotech firm wins $29 million contract from U.S. Army

Rockville biotech firm Cellphire has been awarded a $29,252,092 contract to develop cryopreserved platelets for the U.S. Army. The contract runs through 2026. Cellphire is located at 9430 Key West Avenue. Another reminder that when you are searching in vain for any positive business news in the moribund Montgomery County economy, check the biotech sector, one of the few bright spots in MoCo's last-in-the-region economy.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Chase Bank coming to Montrose Crossing

A vacant bank was fenced off earlier this year at the Montrose Crossing shopping center in Rockville. Now the identity of the new bank is known. Chase Bank will be opening here in 2020. Construction is now underway to modify the bank to J.P. Morgan Chase specifications.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Montgomery County stagnant or getting worse in all key areas, residents say

Montgomery County's elected officials haven't improved any major area of concern or crisis, residents say in a new County-operated survey. Vast majorities countywide say there has been no progress or improvement in the moribund County economy, Montgomery County Public Schools, traffic congestion, crime and public safety, quality of life or the environment in the last two years.
86% of residents say there has been no improvement in availability of affordable housing. 76% feel there has been no improvement in crime prevention and public safety. A whopping 87% found no improvement in traffic congestion over the last two years. In fact, it's getting worse.
63% of residents say there has been no improvement in MCPS, which has declined steadily over this decade, as test scores and graduation rates plummeted and an achievement gap worsened. Yep, that's getting worse, too. But rather than improve failing schools, the corrupt MoCo cartel is trying to ready a forced busing strategy that failed nationwide decades ago, and is preemptively calling those who favor neighborhood schools "racists" and "white supremacists" - terms regularly deployed as the nuclear option when one has lost a debate on the facts.
Montgomery County's stagnant economy reached rock bottom in the region this decade, and residents' opinions squarely reflect that reality. A powerful 69% of residents say there has been no improvement in job growth. 61% report no improvement in business growth. Montgomery County ranked at the bottom in the region on both measurements this decade.
Progressive and green Montgomery County is leading the nation in environmental policy, our elected officials assure us weekly. Mmm...not so much, counter Montgomery County residents. 68% of residents say the environment hasn't improved, or has gotten worse, since 2017. 66% responded that quality of life opportunities in the county - the arts, culture, recreation and libraries - have either not improved or have gotten worse.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The final hours of Baskin Robbins in Rockville

There were 31 flavors, but many less hours left in the life of Baskin Robbins at Congressional Plaza this past Sunday. The shop generously offered all ice cream at 50% off to customers on the final day of operation. Baskin Robbins - the chain - is directing customers here to their store at 7909 Tuckerman Lane in Potomac. I don't believe I've ever gone to that Baskin Robbins, so I'm interested to give it a try, since this one was the best in the county in my opinion. One scoop of Peanut Butter & Chocolate, and one scoop of Baseball Nut, for the final farewell. Another great business closes in moribund, razor-thin-profit-margin, high tax, high cost, high rent Montgomery County.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Rockville Dunkin' Donuts closes

One of the Dunkin' Donuts in Rockville has closed. The Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins store at 777 Hungerford Drive has been permanently shuttered. This is the one by Flagship Car Wash.
Fortunately, there is a nice newer Dunkin' Donuts a short distance up Route 355 at College Plaza, and it even has a drive-thru. Dunkin' Donuts has been massively expanding in our area - and across central and southern Maryland - in recent years, making store openings much more common than closures.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Congressional Plaza construction update (Photos)

Construction continues on the future Barnes and Noble bookstore, and FITRow, at Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. Both the bookstore and the 3-space fitness annex will open in 2020. I can't figure out what they are doing at the B&N space - raising the roof, adding a floor, or just increasing the height of the facade. They have also posted a yellow FITRow sign on the building.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

ArcLight Cinemas Bethesda wins Governor's Crime Prevention Award

The general manager of ArcLight Cinemas in
Bethesda (second from left) holds the Governor's
Crime Prevention award received by the cineplex
ArcLight Cinemas at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda has won a Governor's Crime Prevention award from Gov. Larry Hogan. The cineplex was recognized for donating auditorium time on the first Wednesday of each month to the Montgomery County Police Department. Officers use the time to host a senior forum where seniors enjoy a free film, along with a presentation on tips to prevent becoming a crime victim.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)
Police Chief Marcus Jones and other police officials attended the award ceremony, and thanked ArcLight and the other winners. The theater's general manager was on hand to receive the award. Target's Rockville store also received an award from the governor.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Two tower cranes erected in Rockville Town Center

There are now two tower cranes in Rockville Town Center. Here are some views from Duball, LLC's Phase II of their Rockville Town Center development. Located off E. Middle Lane on what was the last remaining surface parking lot in front of the Regal Cinemas Rockville, the site will be home to a 400-unit apartment building, with 150 of those to be set aside for senior housing operated by development partner Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission. The building will also include 20000 SF of ground floor retail/restaurant space.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Asian food hall The Block to host grand opening Saturday in Rockville

The Block has officially expanded to Maryland - the Asian food hall has opened at 967 Rose Avenue at Pike & Rose. A grand opening has been scheduled for this Saturday, December 14 from 9:30 PM to 1:30 AM. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Adobo and Eddo.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Patisserie Manuel, Bliss in a Bottle open at Westfield Montgomery Mall

Patisserie Manuel has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The French bakery also specializes in Chilean pastries, and serves breakfast, lunch, and coffee in addition to baked goods. Look for it in the Dining Terrace. Here's a look at the menu:

Bliss in a Bottle kiosk
Also celebrating a grand opening is the Bliss in a Bottle kiosk. Their unique product is chocolate-covered wine bottles, where the wine inside the bottle has been paired with the chocolate on the outside in most cases. Find them on Level 1.

Speaking of kiosks, there is another new one making a debut for the holidays at the mall. This cart sells socks for your favorite pro sports teams.