Thursday, March 31, 2022

Rockville weather forecast includes strong storms, high wind gusts this afternoon and evening

A wind advisory is in effect for Rockville, and all of Montgomery County and the Washington, D.C. Metro area. The Weather Channel is currently forecasting strong storms to develop in the Rockville area between 2:00 and 3:00 PM this afternoon. A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 10:00 PM this evening. High wind gusts of up to 50 MPH are possible, causing falling trees and limbs, and power outages. Bring any unsecured objects that might blow away inside from yards and balconies.

Radar via The Weather Channel

Indecent exposure in Rockville

City of Rockville police responded to a report of indecent exposure in the King Farm community of Rockville on Tuesday afternoon. The incident was reported in the 900 block of King Farm Boulevard at 2:18 PM, according to crime data. That is a residential block in King Farm near the Sheraton hotel.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

fye's new toy concept Alex Baby & Toys "opening soon" at Montgomery Mall

The new-concept toy store fye is opening at Westfield Montgomery Mall now has a name: Alex Baby & Toys. Only two locations are currently scheduled to open nationally this year, with the other being at Holyoke Mall in Massachusetts. Here at Montgomery Mall, Alex Baby & Toys will be on Level 1 in the Old Navy wing. The store is currently hiring for all positions, and I'm told it will be "opening soon."

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Montgomery County transit use, return to offices remains far below pre-pandemic numbers, new data show

Park use and grocery/pharmacy shopping
now less than during pandemic

New Google Mobility data show life in Montgomery County has yet to resume pre-pandemic patterns over the first three months of 2022, and some activity categories have even declined below their pandemic numbers. Transit use in the county has been even worse this year than it was last fall, dropping from 43% below early 2020 ridership numbers to 48% below in early 2022. Workers are heading back to the office only 1% more so far this year than they were last fall, with residents working on-location 30% less than during the same period before the pandemic in 2020.

Wheaton Claridge Local Park

County residents in 2022 so far are still staying home 10% more than they did in early 2020. In a troubling change, residents have actually reduced their time in parks and in grocery and drug stores. Google data during the pandemic months of 2020 and 2021 had showed residents were actually spending more time in parks, grocery stores and drug stores than they were before the pandemic. Now even those categories have gone negative.

Buses lined up at
Rockville Metro station

Residents spent 5% less time in parks between January 21 and March 4, 2022 than they did over the same period in 2020. They spent 6% less time in grocery and drug stores so far this year than they did in early 2020, which is odd considering that Covid-19 cases were way up when the year started, and shelves were bare for several weeks at grocery stores. And they've spent a whopping 30% less time in other types of retail stores and in recreation activities this year than they did in January - March 2020.

County residents spent less time
shopping at CVS Pharmacy so far
this year than they did over the same
period in 2020

The data collected by Google is limited to those users who have opted in to allowing the tech giant to track their phone's location. It measures both the frequency of visits, and the amount of time those users stay in the places categorized in the results, such as grocery stores, transit stations and parks.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Peter Franchot, Wes Moore tout new endorsements in Maryland governor's race

Democrats Peter Franchot and Wes Moore have announced several new endorsements in the crowded primary field of the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial race. Takoma Park resident and Maryland Comptroller Franchot has been endorsed by hospitality unions UNITE HERE Local 23 and Local 7. Among Franchot's efforts as comptroller was a successful push with Governor Larry Hogan (R) to extend the summer vacations of Maryland public school students, a boon for hotels and other businesses in travel destinations like Ocean City. Individual school systems later regained the right to set their own school opening dates each fall through action by the Democrat-controlled state legislature, rendering Hogan's executive order moot.

Wes Moore

Takoma Park native Moore's latest endorsements are from former Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson and Montgomery County Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14). Hanson is recognized as the architect of the County's Agricultural Reserve policy, which has preserved farmland in a designated zone of the county from development. Moore is a combat veteran, former White House Fellow, bestselling author, and former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation.

Photo via

Rockville Town Center apartment tower sold, rebranded as BLVD Ansel

Dulles-based Comstock Holdings has acquired The Ansel apartments at 33 Monroe Street in Rockville Town Center. The real estate firm will rebrand the newly-delivered Duball, LLC-developed property as BLVD Ansel. Comstock already holds the Ansel's sister building at 44 Maryland Avenue, also developed by Duball, which it rebranded as BLVD Forty Four in December.

“BLVD Ansel is the latest addition to Comstock’s mixed-use, transit-oriented portfolio of high-quality, luxury residential assets in one of DC’s fastest growing employment centers,” Comstock CEO Christopher Clemente said in a statement. “The Duball team did a tremendous job developing The Upton and Ansel, making these properties proud additions to our expanding BLVD brand of luxury apartment communities."

“Duball, LLC has a tremendous amount of pride in developing The Upton (now BLVD Forty Four) and Ansel, with over 600 new residents, much needed parking, and retail services for Rockville residents,” said Marc Dubick, President of Duball, LLC. “For over a decade, we have worked closely with the City of Rockville and believe these two mixed-use developments materially changed the face of the city. We know the project will be in great hands with Comstock as Ansel moves from physical completion to fully operational.”

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Assault at Rockville bus stop

A person reported being the victim of an aggravated assault at a bus stop in Rockville yesterday afternoon, March 26, 2022. City of Rockville police responded to the incident at a bus stop in the 2100 block of Veirs Mill Road at 1:32 PM, according to crime data.

Amazon 4-Star closes at Montgomery Mall

The Amazon 4-Star store at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda has permanently closed. Amazon announced a few weeks ago that it would close all of its Amazon Books and Amazon 4-Star locations nationwide this year, and focus its bricks-and-mortar efforts on its grocery stores. Amazon Books closed at Bethesda Row last week.

Two cars stolen from homes in Rockville

Two cars were reported stolen outside of homes in Rockville yesterday. One was parked in the 800 block of 1st Street, and the second in the 300 block of Thompson Dairy Way in King Farm, according to crime data. Remember to lock car doors, remove all visible objects from the vehicle interior, and never leave your keys in the ignition or glove compartment.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz to appear at Rockville fundraiser in April

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announcing
his endorsement of Kelly Schulz (left) in the
Republican race for governor

Kelly Schulz
, a Republican candidate for Maryland governor, is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in Rockville next month. Hosted by Mark Epstein, the event will be held April 27 at 6:00 PM at the Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike. Schulz, who was endorsed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this week, is running against Maryland Del. Dan Cox, attorney and former state delegate Robin Ficker, and attorney Joe Werner for the Republican nomination this July.

Photo via Kelly Schulz for Governor, Inc.

Hans Riemer endorsed by Matt Yglesias for Montgomery County Executive

Journalist Matt Yglesias endorsed Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer in the Democratic primary race for County Executive Friday. In a tweet that displayed a portion of a recent blog post, Yglesias wrote, "I would vote for Hans Riemer." Yglesias, who reportedly lives in Logan Circle in the District, wrote that incumbent executive Marc Elrich (D) "is bad and people should vote against him. Hans Riemer is almost certainly the best candidate in that field."

"That field" also includes businessman David Blair, businessman Peter James (who just filed for the race yesterday), and County Councilmember Tom Hucker; no candidate of any other party affiliation has filed to run as of this morning. Yglesias also weighed in with a novel take on the Maryland governor's race, predicting Peter Franchot would top the Democratic field "based on name recognition and being white in a field with many Black candidates. And that's a shame."

A co-founder of Vox Media, Yglesias is now a columnist for Bloomberg, and publishes a subscription-based blog called Slow Boring. He is also a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center.

Tend to open Rockville dental office

 is opening an office at 11580 Old Georgetown Road at Pike & Rose. The 2876 square foot office will offer a full range of dental services, including exams, fillings, crowns, root canals, whitening and cosmetic redesign, and preventative care such as oral cancer screenings. In other words, a one-stop shop that includes options some traditional dental offices don't offer under one roof. 

Property owner Federal Realty announced the lease Friday, touting Tend as the first dentist's office "people actually look forward to." Inside Tend's calm and inviting office, patient happiness is the stated goal. "Coming soon" signage was already up at the future location on Thursday. Tend is expected to open at Pike & Rose in the 2nd quarter of 2022.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Rivian truck spotted at Rockville Rivian facility (Photos)

The parking lot at the new Rivian facility on Rockville Pike is usually empty, save for the flatbed trucks used to deliver the new electric pickup trucks to their owners. Trucks are picked up for delivery as quickly as they arrive here. But one of the fast-moving EV pickups was finally caught on-site yesterday. 

There was an intriguing sign on the dashboard, which instructs delivery drivers in capital letters to unbuckle the truck's seatbelt after loading. I can't find any explanation online for that, but it clearly must be important, and it would be interesting to know why. It's too early for Guardian Mode on this Rivian. 

The tonneau cover was closed over the pickup bed. I think this truck is in Launch Green. Has anyone seen a Limestone yet? I'm partial to Rivian Blue myself.

Jolly Shows carnival returns to Montgomery Mall through April 3, 2022

Jolly Shows is bringing its carnival back to Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda today through April 3, 2022. Workers were setting up the carnival ground in the parking lot last evening. Weather may be an issue during this stint at the mall - while there is little rain in the forecast over the next week, unseasonably-low temperatures are expected Sunday through Tuesday.

Carnival hours will be 5:00 PM - 11:00 PM Fridays, 1:00 PM - 11:00 PM Saturdays, 3:00 PM "to close" Sundays, and 5:00 PM "to close" on weekdays. Tickets for the carnival can be purchased online at the Jolly Shows website.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria hosts soft opening at Montgomery Mall

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
was hosting an unannounced soft opening last night at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, ahead of next week's scheduled grand opening. The pizza parlor was giving away free pizzas. I wouldn't suggest driving a long distance - but would I suggest you stop by and see if they are selling, or even giving away, pizzas between now and the grand opening if you're already at the mall? Sì!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

In-person Mayor & Council meetings resume in Rockville March 28

Rockville City Hall will reopen to the public on Monday, March 28, 2022, after being closed for over two years due to the pandemic. Monday night at 7:00 PM will bring the first Mayor & Council meeting that the public can attend in-person. There are several things to know, if you are considering attending (you will still be able to participate in the meetings virtually online).

Seating capacity in the Mayor and Council chambers will be limited to 42 people; overflow seating will be available. The public must enter through the Main Entrance on the third floor facing Vinson Street. You can exit the building using any publicly-accessible door. Masks will be provided for those who wish to wear one, and do not have their own, but masks are not required.

If you wish to speak during the Community Forum portion of the meeting, sign up using the form at the entrance to the Mayor and Council chambers. In-person speakers will follow online virtual speakers in speaking order.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan endorses Kelly Schulz for governor

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) yesterday announced he is endorsing Kelly Schulz for governor in the Republican primary currently scheduled for July 19, 2022. Schulz served in the Hogan administration for seven years, as the first female secretary of both the Department of Labor and Department of Commerce. She has also served as a state delegate to the Maryland General Assembly from Frederick County, and as a small business owner. If elected, Schulz would be the first female governor of the state.

Schulz faces fellow Republicans Delegate Dan Cox, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump; attorney and former state delegate Robin Ficker; and attorney Joe Werner in the gubernatorial primary. The Hogan endorsement's impact on the race is debatable. 

For Schulz, the support from Hogan bolsters her argument that she is the only candidate who can hold the Hogan coalition together that led him to victory twice in a blue state. Hogan said as much in his statement of endorsement Tuesday:  “If you approve of how we have led Maryland, then Kelly Schulz is your choice for governor.” 

The governor scored a major win this week in bringing a Hitachi railcar factory to economically-hard-hit Hagerstown, with 460 high-wage jobs, the first such high-profile victory in nearly two decades for the state. Hitachi's announcement puts a tangible punctuation mark on Hogan's claim to have improved Maryland's miserable business climate. Schulz noted following the announcement that she played a leading role as Secretary of Commerce in recruiting Hitachi and a new United Safety Technology manufacturing facility to the state, allowing her to now tout these wins on the stump, a powerful talking point with broad appeal to moderate Democrats and independents.

But while Hogan is more popular in majority-Democrat Maryland overall than Trump, Trump may loom larger in a GOP primary. A Gonzales poll in January showed that more Democrats approved of Hogan than Republicans statewide. Hogan clashed eagerly and regularly with Trump over the last several years, angering many Republicans in the state.

While Schulz has led in fundraising, her campaign has unleashed increasingly-negative attacks on Cox in recent weeks, via online ads and surrogates. Either Cox remains a significant concern, or Schulz is not taking any chances. 

Ficker and Werner have stayed out of the fray. Ficker has focused on his proposal to reduce the state sales tax by two cents, and Werner has balanced conservative positions on social issues with a pro-business-growth message. Cox has fought Hogan's pandemic restrictions and mandates, such as business closures, going as far as suing the governor at one point. He and his supporters are likely shedding no tears over an endorsement snub by Hogan.

Pepco makes donation to Montgomery College

has made a donation to Montgomery College, as part of a $650,000 package of donations to local community colleges and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The money will go to workforce development in the energy field, teacher training and scholarships, the Exelon-owned utility announced in a press release. Montgomery College has campuses in Rockville, Germantown and Takoma Park.

“We hope this funding helps open the door to educational opportunities that all too often are just a dream for many young people within our communities,” Rodney Oddoye, Senior Vice-President of Governmental, External and Regulatory Affairs for Pepco Holdings, said in a statement. “Through our partnerships with local community colleges, HBCUs, and workforce development programs like the DC Infrastructure Academy, we are not only expanding the possibilities for our youth, we are building the talent pool for the future energy workforce.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Rockville homicide stemmed from argument, police say

A fatal stabbing in Rockville last night has led to an arrest, and is under investigation by Montgomery County police detectives. Deonte Foreman, 21, of Rockville was stabbed outside his home in the 10100 block of Reprise Drive around 9:21 PM Monday night. Police arrived after someone called 911 to report a shooting at that location. Officers found Foreman suffering from multiple stab wounds, and attempted to provide medical assistance until County Fire and Rescue personnel arrived, but Foreman was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.

Demarco Rayford, 26, of Gaithersburg was arrested at the scene. Detectives allege that Foreman and Rayford had an argument, which escalated into an altercation. During that fight, police allege that Rayford stabbed Foreman multiple times. Rayford has been charged with 2nd degree murder; police have not yet provided a mugshot of Rayford.

The location of the homicide is near the Gaithersburg border, directly adjacent to the Crown Farm development.  Police say their investigation is ongoing.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Rockville Wegmans construction update (Photos)

There are now three tower cranes erected at the future site of the Twinbrook Quarter development, Phase 1 of which includes anchor retail tenant Wegmans. The cranes are highly visible as you come down the southbound lanes of Rockville Pike from the Edmonston Drive intersection. Developer B.F. Saul says concrete pours have begun for the foundation of the building that will have Wegmans on the ground floor, starting with the underground parking garage. That is a complex job and will take some time to complete, the company says.