Friday, January 29, 2021

Rockville Mayor & Council to receive presentation on proposed "Great Seneca" transit improvements

Elected officials at the Montgomery County and state levels have failed to deliver the Corridor Cities Transitway they assured us would make the Science City sector plan a "smart growth" success. The developers built, but the transitway never materialized. Now, Montgomery County will deliver its proposal for old-fashioned bus service additions to what was rebranded as the "Great Seneca" sector plan to Rockville's Mayor and Council this coming Monday night, February 1, 2021 at 7:00 PM.

Two new bus lines would pass through the City of Rockville as part of the proposal. The County Department of Transportation is including options for dedicated bus lanes, queue jumping, and priority for buses at traffic signals in the plan. They will seek feedback from the Mayor and Council on the proposed bus lines, which are being brought before city officials for the first time next week.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Bark Social sets opening date at Pike & Rose

The much-anticipated opening of Bark Social at Pike & Rose finally has a date. A 25000 square foot dog park with a craft beer/wine "dog bar," a dog treat bar serving canine friendly pupsicles and ice cream, and a morning-oriented coffee program, Bark Social will open for the first time on February 26, 2021 at 935 Prose Street in Rockville/North Bethesda. 

Professional Bark Rangers will monitor the private, off-lease dog park. The indoor-outdoor bar and beer garden will make the venue usable year-round. Events like dog yoga and Yappy Hours will be a regular fixture at Bark Social. There will also be a dog boutique and dog washing stations. Dog parents will be able to watch local sports and national reality TV shows while their pets get a workout.

For the occasion of the opening, Bark Social has launched a t-shirt fundraiser to support five local dog nonprofit organizations: Montgomery County Humane Society, Humane Rescue Alliance, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, and MCPAW; and one national organization, Tails of Valor Paws of Honor. That veteran organization that helps both service members and rescue dogs, by turning rescued canines into service animals. Bark Social will donate $5 from each t-shirt sold to its non-profit partners.

Bark Social offers monthly and annual memberships. You can sign up online, including for one of the 250 founding-members discount deals that are available while they last.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Text-to-911 now available in Maryland

Callers in emergency situations who cannot, or do not wish to, speak on the phone now have a silent option. Text-to-911 service is now available in the state of Maryland. Residents and visitors alike can contact emergency services via text using the service.

To use Text-to-911 service, follow these steps:

1. Enter 911 in the “To” line.

2. Enter a brief message that includes the location of the emergency and type of service needed – police,              fire, or ambulance.

3. Hit send.

4. Respond to questions from the responding 911 specialist, and follow the instructions he or she provides.

Assault at Rockville pharmacy

City of Rockville police responded to a report of 2nd degree assault and shoplifting at a pharmacy early Monday afternoon. The incident was reported at a pharmacy in the 1800 block of Rockville Pike around 1:29 PM.  There is a pharmacy inside the Safeway there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Car stolen in Rockville

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a stolen car in the Norbeck Road corridor of Rockville early Saturday morning. The vehicle was taken from the driveway of a home in the 15300 block of Hannans Way around 3:30 AM. Property was taken from at least one other vehicle on the same block, according to crime data.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Rockville Mayor & Council to meet in closed session tonight before work session

Rockville's Mayor and Council will meet in closed session tonight at 6:00 PM, prior to a virtual work session at 7:00 PM, which will be open to the public. The closed session will be held "to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of the City Manager," the agenda states.

Tonight's work sessions will review potential changes to City water and sewer rates; hold a follow-up to a previous discussion on "Social Justice, Racism and Bias;" and consider whether the City needs to hire an outside consultant on the proposed I-270 and Capital Beltway Express Lanes project. 

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Burlington coming to Rockville

is coming to the Montrose Crossing shopping center at 12055 Rockville Pike. It will be located in the other half of the building where Home Depot Home Design Center is. Previously, MD Furniture had been slated to move in there, but Burlington is a much bigger brand name to be sure. There are two existing Burlington locations in Montgomery County, in Gaithersburg and downtown Silver Spring.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Rockville Planning Commission to discuss Open Meetings Act violations

Rockville's Planning Commission will discuss Open Meetings Act violations at its next (open) meeting on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 7:00 PM. Commissioners will specifically address requesting an independent, outside review of OMA violations. No details are provided in the meeting agenda.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Rockville construction update: The Ansel apartments (Photos)

Here's a look at the latest progress at the Ansel apartments in Rockville Town Center, across from Regal Row. Expectations are high for the retail and restaurant space, given the outstanding tenants developer Duball, LLC signed to the sister property, The Upton/Cambria Suites (World of Beer, Panera Bread, etc.). The Ansel is scheduled for delivery this fall.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea Rockville construction update (Photos)

The interior of Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea is rounding into final shape at 777 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. There are nice finishes and flooring. Unlike existing businesses that have had to adapt to the current health crisis, here they have been able to make a decorative screening of the counter area, rather than simply add plastic shielding.

Trump pardons include local developer Douglas Jemal

Among the 73 pardons issued by President Donald Trump the night before Inauguration Day was a full pardon for one of the most prominent developers in the Washington, D.C. region, Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development. Trump, known for most of his life for his own real estate development business, granted Jemal a full pardon for a 2008 fraud conviction. 

Jemal was found guilty of wire fraud. He had been accused of using the proceeds of a loan taken out with a business partner to purchase a property without the partner's knowledge or consent.

Douglas Development owns numerous properties in Montgomery County, in Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring and Gaithersburg. They include the Trader Joe's-anchored Shops of Wisconsin in downtown Bethesda. The White House released the following statement regarding Jemal's pardon:

"President Trump granted a full pardon to Douglas Jemal. Mr. Jemal is an American businessman and philanthropist credited with rebuilding many urban inner cities in the United States. In 2008, Mr. Jemal was convicted of fraud. In addition, Mr. Jemal was instrumental to various other charitable causes, including the rebuilding of churches prior to his conviction.  Notably, at his trial the presiding judge told prosecutors that he thought it 'inconceivable' to send Mr. Jemal to prison."

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A sign of what's to come at new Darcars dealership on Rockville Pike

First we found out who the mystery tenant was in the new building near Roy Rogers on Rockville Pike. Now we know which brands and what type of sales will be offered at this new Darcars dealership. 

It will feature pre-owned Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and Jeep sales. This makes perfect sense, as these brands match those carried by the existing Darcars dealership directly across the street from the new site.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Rockville arsons in same neighborhood under investigation

Shed destroyed by fire on
Grandin Avenue in Rockville

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services investigators are examining what they say is a case of arson in East Rockville, the second reported in that immediate area since last Friday. City of Rockville police responded to a reported case of arson at a home early Friday morning, January 15, 2021. The arson was reported at a home in the 100 block of Coleman Park Lane around 4:21 AM, according to crime data.

Another view of Grandin Avenue
shed fire damage now being 
attributed to arson

Now, MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer has announced that fire investigators are seeking public tips regarding a second arson only blocks away. The second fire was allegedly set in a shed in the backyard of a home in the 300 block of Grandin Avenue around 3:00 AM on Sunday. Anyone with information about that fire is asked to call the Arson Tipline at 240.777.2263, Piringer tweeted Sunday night.

Photos by Pete Piringer/MCFRS

Friday, January 15, 2021

Real estate firm touts Rockville bank building as prime spot for restaurant tenant

Virginia-based real estate firm KNLB is marketing a former bank building in Rockville as a potential location for a restaurant. Currently for lease, the 3200 square foot bank structure is in the Traville Village Center, at 9700-9761 Traville Gateway Drive. Renderings prepared by KNLB give a sense of what a bank-to-restaurant conversion might look like.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Car stolen in Rockville

City of Rockville police responded to a report of a stolen car in the Hungerford neighborhood early yesterday morning. A vehicle parked at a home in the 1000 block of Julian Place was reported stolen around 12:00 AM. Police data indicates property was stolen from the house itself, as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Fabletics coming to Montgomery Mall

will open its latest bricks-and-mortar location at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda this year. Known best for its famous co-founder Kate Hudson, the upscale activewear chain offers apparel and accessories for women and men. Each month, Hudson adds new outfits that are "Kate-approved."

Fabletics also has a VIP program with many perks and savings. But you must either make a purchase between the 1st and 5th day of the month when the newest products debut, or tell Fabletics you want to "skip" the month; otherwise, your credit card will be charged $49.95 on the 6th day of that month. The charge becomes a credit to your account that you can spend at any time in the future, and will cover any outfit priced up to $80 for that $49.95 charge.

This will be the first Fabletics store in the D.C. metro area. The chain has an existing location in Columbia, Maryland, but none in Virginia or D.C.

Photo courtesy Fabletics

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

TD Ameritrade closes Rockville branch

TD Ameritrade
has closed at 11560 Old Georgetown Road at Pike & Rose. The closure may seem surprising, as the stock market has been booming for years, and many amateur investors with cash joined the market when stocks briefly plunged at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. However, Charles Schwab is in the process of closing nearly 80% of TD Ameritrade branches nationwide. 

Charles Schwab found too much overlap with Schwab offices in most TD Ameritrade markets after acquiring the latter firm, it announced late last fall. Rockville and North Bethesda apparently fell into that category.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Rockville Planning Commission to consider annexing King Buick dealership to be redeveloped by EYA

The landowner of the King Buick GMC auto dealership property at 16200 Frederick Road is asking to have the land annexed into the City of Rockville, along with a portion of vacant land. If the proposal receives the necessary approvals, developer EYA intends to formally acquire and redevelop the site with 366 housing units in the form of townhomes and low-rise condo buildings. EYA is also proposing to provide an amenity related to the nearby King Farm farmstead site, such as parking.

Montgomery County's current zoning for the dealership property allows building heights of 45 feet, while Rockville's permits heights of 75 feet. An additional complication is that a Minor Master Plan Amendment process was previously initiated for the area by the Montgomery County Planning Board, which includes the dealership property. 

As drafted, the Montgomery County zoning change would permit heights of 80 feet, but could take up to 18 months to be approved. It's unclear what advantage there is to joining the City of Rockville other than that the project could begin sooner, as city staff estimate the land could be annexed by September 16 of this year. 

But if this is to occur before the County zoning change, the annexation would have to be signed off upon by the Montgomery County Council. That would mean the Council would cede the tax revenue from the future development to Rockville. City staff reports that Montgomery County planners were receptive to the idea of handing the plot over to Rockville.

The Rockville Planning Commission will consider the annexation plan and whether to schedule a public hearing to consider the petition at its January 13, 2021 virtual meeting at 7:00 PM. Planning staff is recommending approval of the public hearing.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Darcars opening new Rockville location

is the mystery tenant moving into the new building by Roy Rogers at 712 Rockville Pike. Once again, the Pike is maintaining its suburban character as a commercial strip with car dealerships and retail stores, despite developer efforts last decade to upzone Rockville Pike into a high-density urban area. A similar urbanization plan for White Flint's part of the Pike, passed by the Montgomery County Council, has been an utter failure so far.