Thursday, April 30, 2020

Rockville City Centre sold

One of the larger shopping centers in Rockville has changed hands. Rockville City Centre, home to a Giant grocery store, Popeyes and other popular tenants, was sold to Wheaton Properties of Maryland, LLC, a shell company established in Aspen Hill. According to Maryland real estate records, the property sold for $7 million - quite low considering the redevelopment potential here, at the intersection of MD 355 and N. Washington Street on the edge of Rockville's Town Center.

The seller was Tafida Associates. This site was once home to one of the DC area's famous Hechinger hardware stores, known as "The World's Most Unusual Lumber Yards."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Regal Cinemas Rockville marquee has new coronavirus messaging

Regal Cinemas Rockville Center has posted some new coronavirus pandemic messaging on its marquee at 199 E. Montgomery Avenue. Not surprisingly for a cineplex, the updated messages draw on classic movies like Casablanca and Sudden Impact. Most of all, the theater misses "our Rockville neighbors."

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Rockville construction update: Duball Rockville Town Center Phase II (Photos)

Duball LLC's Rockville Town Center Phase II is anticipated to deliver in mid-2021 across from Phase I, which included a Cambria Suites hotel, The Upton luxury apartments, and several shops and restaurants. Phase II will add 20,000 SF more of retail and dining space, beneath 400 apartments. 250 apartments will be market rate, and the other 150 will be affordable housing for seniors.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Barnes & Noble installs sign at Congressional Plaza in Rockville

The permanent sign is up at Barnes & Noble's future Congressional Plaza location on Rockville Pike. They'll be moving up the Pike from Montrose Crossing later this year. There's still a long way to go on the interior construction of the new bookstore, but the new canopy and exterior look finished when you look up from the sidewalk.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Enterprise Holdings to lay off 92 in Rockville

The economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues to implode Montgomery County's already-moribund economy. Enterprise Holdings announced yesterday that it intends to lay off 92 of its employees in Rockville. In a statement, Enterprise said their rental car business is "at a standstill" with very little travel taking place nationwide.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Judge orders Maryland to hand over Montgomery County voter data in voter fraud investigation

MoCo has more names registered to
vote than citizens eligible to vote

A federal judge has ruled that the Maryland must hand over the voting registration data of Montgomery County voters to Judicial Watch, a right-wing government watchdog organization. Judicial Watch filed the suit several years ago when a review of public data revealed that there are more names registered to vote in Montgomery County than there are citizens eligible to vote.

The Maryland Board of Elections refused to hand over the voter data after earlier legal action. Elections Administrator Linda Lamone went as far as to delete the voter birthdate box on the registration form. That action was one that U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Hollander seized upon in her ruling for Judicial Watch.

Judge Hollander stated in her opinion that:

"Judicial Watch need not demonstrate its need for birth date information in order to facilitate its effort to ensure that the voter rolls are properly maintained. Nevertheless, it has put forward reasonable justifications for requiring birth date information, including using birth dates to find duplicate registrations and searching for voters who remain on the rolls despite 'improbable' age."

"Because full voter birth dates appear on completed voter registration applications, the Administrator may not bypass the Act by unilaterally revising the Application."

Judicial Watch had stated its intention to sue Maryland over the issues with the Montgomery County voter rolls in 2017, if the state did not remove names of ineligible voters, or of those who had passed away or moved out of the county. A man noted on Twitter in a post just last week that voting records showed his mother continuing to "vote" in Montgomery County elections for a full decade after her death.

Maryland and Montgomery County rebuffed Judicial Watch at the time. The organization filed suit over Montgomery County's "impossibly high registration rate – over 100 percent of its age-eligible citizenry" later that year.

“Maryland politicians fought us tooth and nail to keep Judicial Watch from uncovering the full truth about their dirty election rolls,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement yesterday. “This latest court victory will allow Judicial Watch to ensure Maryland and Montgomery County are removing voters who have moved or died long ago.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gilead's Remdesivir effective in Rockville study of monkeys with coronavirus covid-19

A study at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases {(NIAID) in Rockville has shown that pharmaceutical firm Gilead's experimental Remdesivir anti-viral treatment slowed the progression of the covid-19 coronavirus in monkeys infected with the virus. It also reduced lung damage.

Early administration of the drug made it more effective, according to a report on the study by The drug did not reduce the monkey's shedding of the virus while infected, however, which means they would remain contagious even while on Remdesivir, if this study's finding holds in further clinical testing.

The NIAID is at 5601 Fishers Lane in the Twinbrook area of Rockville.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

First Watch temporarily closed in Rockville due to coronavirus pandemic

First Watch at Rockville Town Square has temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. CEO Chris Tomasso said it was a "difficult decision," but that he decided to close all of the chain's locations to protect employees from contracting covid-19. He also announced that First Watch employees will receive medical coverage and additional health benefits related to coronavirus. First Watch is located at 100-D Gibbs Street.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Maryland State Police shut down Flagship Car Wash in Rockville

Longtime car cleaning business
asks for customers' help

WJLA ABC7 reporter Kevin Lewis witnessed Maryland State Police drive up and blockade the Flagship Car Wash on Chapman Avenue near the Rockville Target store early Sunday afternoon. The company confirmed to Lewis that MSP officers had shut down four Flagship locations across Montgomery County Sunday. Flagship also has locations in the District and Virginia.

Flagship's owner told Lewis that the services her business was providing were compliant with a written directive from the state regarding which "essential" auto maintenance services could be offered during the statewide coronavirus shutdown. I can confirm this is true, because Flagship had announced way back on March 25 that they were limiting services in Rockville to exterior cleaning only,  with machine-operated automatics, self-service and vacuums to be open 24 hours. Exterior cleaning by employees was not even listed for the other two upcounty, just the automatic and self-serve options.

Later Sunday, Flagship asked its customers on Facebook to share the ABC7 story to support their business. MSP told Lewis that car washes are not an essential service, and that the Flagship location in MoCo should remain closed.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Car stolen in Rockville Town Center

A car was stolen in Rockville Town Center on April 15. According to crime data, the car was parked on the street on Courthouse Square when it was reported stolen around 8:11 PM that evening.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Masks mandatory on Ride On buses starting today

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation has mandated that all Ride On bus passengers must wear masks or face coverings starting today. Riders not in compliance will be asked not to board, or to disembark if they remove their mask while aboard. A similar rule will take effect statewide on Saturday, April 18, 2020.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sneak peek: Watkins Mill interchange highway signs (Photos)

Well, look what I found up the road in Gaithersburg. The interstate-standard highway signs for the Watkins Mill interchange at I-270. Aside from Watkins Mill Road, the signs direct drivers to Montgomery Village, Seneca Creek State Park, NIST and the MARC station. Not shown, thanks to the Montgomery County Council defiantly refusing to build the master plan M-83 Highway, are directions to Germantown, Clarksburg and Damascus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Metered on-ramps advancing for I-270 congestion

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, contractors for the Maryland State Highway Administration are pressing forward with Gov. Larry Hogan's congestion relief plan for Interstate 270. In contrast to the loud political arguments over Hogan's Express Lanes plan, his earlier modest upgrades to the highway have proceeded quietly. Now the signals and necessary electronics for another phase of the project - metered on-ramps - have been installed at many interchanges.
MD SHA contractors install a signal box
for a metered on-ramp system
The signals will act just as traffic lights do, turning red and stopping traffic entering the highway's southbound lanes from on-ramps. Traffic engineers hope they will be able to smooth out the inflow of cars that must merge with oncoming traffic in the through or local lanes. Sensors will be used, and on-ramps will be widened to two lanes if the lines become too long with a single queue.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
Drivers have already noticed other small changes with large impacts. Some on-ramps now allow you to stay in the lane you came in on (such as the on-ramp from Sam Eig Highway), rather than fighting to merge and slowing traffic, such as the on-ramp from Democracy Boulevard northbound. Surprisingly, Hogan has not trumpeted each completed phase with press conferences. Only vague "New Traffic Pattern" electronic highway signs give any indication when each part of the project is put into use.

The project is still only 48% complete. It is scheduled to be finished next summer, so we won't know the full impact - if any - before then.