Sunday, July 31, 2022

Rockville office burglarized

Rockville City police responded to a report of a burglary at an office in the King Farm community yesterday morning, July 30, 2022. The burglary was reported in the 800 block of Pleasant Drive at the King Farm Village Center. Officers found no evidence of forced entry at the scene. It is believed the office was broken into between 2:00 PM on Friday and 10:00 AM on Saturday.

Marc Elrich only 21 votes behind David Blair in latest Montgomery County Executive election results

Election results posted this morning by the Montgomery County Board of Elections show businessman David Blair is still in front of incumbent Marc Elrich in the Democratic race for Montgomery County Executive. But as of 10:32 AM, Elrich is now only 21 votes behind Blair, who has 47,980 votes (39.27%) to Elrich's 47959 votes (39.35%). Canvassing of mail-in ballots is ongoing today and tomorrow at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College.

Election results as of this hour show
David Blair (top) now only 21 votes ahead of
Marc Elrich (bottom)

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Assault at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at Westfield Montgomery Mall early yesterday afternoon, July 29, 2022. The assault was reported at 12:57 PM at the mall. This is the sixth assault to be reported at the mall since May 18; the last was on July 17.

Spirit Halloween returning to Rockville for 2022

Spirit Halloween
will once again open a seasonal store in Rockville for Halloween 2022. It will be in the former Pier 1 space at the Pike Center, at 12137 Rockville Pike. A tour of Spirit Halloween has become a Halloween activity and tradition in itself. New animatronics this year include Lord Raven, Bog Zombie, Monty the crazed cymbal-wielding monkey, Lucky Bottoms, Bag o'Bones, and Nozzles the Clown.

David Blair still ahead of Marc Elrich as vote-counting continues in Montgomery County Executive race

Businessman David Blair is still ahead of incumbent Marc Elrich by a nose in the Democratic primary contest for Montgomery County Executive. Montgomery County Board of Elections results reported after another day of counting Friday at 8:11 PM now show Blair remaining in first place with 46,824 votes (39.32%), and Elrich right behind with 46,693 votes (39.21%). After a day off Thursday, counting is scheduled to continue for three consecutive days through Monday, resuming at 10:00 AM this morning at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College, but election officials have warned that a final tally may come as late as August 12. Mail-in ballots were actually still being accepted as late as yesterday if they were postmarked by July 19, which means as of today, there will be no additional ballots being added to the pile of still-to-be-counted votes.

Friday, July 29, 2022

The Scoop ice cream shop construction underway at Cabin John Village in Potomac (Photos)

Way back on March 29, 2022, I broke the story that The Scoop would bring ice cream back to Cabin John Village, in the space Baskin Robbins vacated at 7909 Tuckerman Lane. And what a "scoop" it was! Now, construction is finally underway inside the storefront. I see flattened shipping boxes for the Avantco ice cream dipping cabinets on the floor - and you can too, in this sneak peek below:

Assault at grocery store in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a grocery store Wednesday morning, July 27, 2022. The assault was reported at a grocery store in the 1800 block of Rockville Pike at 6:46 AM Wednesday. There is a Safeway store at 1800 Rockville Pike.

District Falafel to open restaurant at Westlake Crossing in Bethesda


Another popular food truck is getting a bricks-and-mortar location in Bethesda. District Falafel will soon open a restaurant at the Westlake Crossing shopping center at 7101 Democracy Boulevard, next to Westfield Montgomery Mall. Best known for its fresh-made falafel, their menu also features hummus, gyros, and wraps made with falafel, lamb, or chicken. District Falafel will be located in the space formerly home to The Wok Chinese Kitchen, between Apex Optical and Shuvam Beer & Wine.

Maryland governor candidate Wes Moore to appear in Montgomery County August 1

Wes Moore
, the Democratic Party nominee for Maryland governor, will appear at a rally in Silver Spring Monday night, August 1, 2022 at 6:00 PM. The rally will be held at Veterans Plaza at 1 Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring. Also scheduled to appear, are U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Democratic Maryland Comptroller candidate Brooke Lierman. The event is scheduled to run from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Èkó House grand opening weekend in Rockville

Èkó House
, the new pan-African restaurant at 150 Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square, will host a grand opening celebration this weekend. A ribbon-cutting will be held this afternoon at 5:00 PM. Guests at the ribbon-cutting will include Will Jawando, Montgomery County Council Member; Marji Graf, President & CEO, Rockville Chamber of Commerce; Ricky Barker, Director, Community Planning and Development Services; and Cindy Rivarde, Director, Rockville Economic Development Inc., among others.  

The main event will be Saturday night, July 30, 2022 with live performances by Afropop star SimiIsaac Gerald, and the Ayo Band between 7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Tickets start at $75 and can be purchased in advance online.  “As one of the few Nigerian restaurants in the DMV, we are excited to share the richness of Nigeria’s culture and cuisine with the Rockville community,” Yomi Ajao, co-founder, Èkó House said in a statement. “We want the community and the greater region to experience Èkó (Lagos), here in Rockville, Maryland. Rockville Town Square offers an array of culinary offerings, and we are thrilled that Èkó House is now an option.”  

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Historic Chinese supermarket building demolished in Rockville (Photos)

Wow, that was fast. The historic building most recently home to Meixin Supermarket is literally just a pile of rubble now at 460 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. While the building did not receive historic designation from the City of Rockville after a contentious review, it was designed by famed and award-winning local architect John "Jack" Sullivan. The site will now become the location of a Chase bank branch with drive-thru.

HalfSmoke opens at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos + Menu)

has opened in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Despite being announced long after the planned Rockville Town Square location of HalfSmoke, the mall kiosk has opened before the Rockville restaurant - so Rockvillans can now head over to the mall to see what the HalfSmoke hype has been about. The menu here features their popular sausages and fried chicken, wood-grilled wings, side items like crab fries and loaded tater tots, and a short but sweet lineup of desserts. Milkshakes are joined by a selection of adult beverages - beer, wine and a surprisingly-varied cocktail list.  

“We are excited to be entering the Bethesda market in an area that affords excellent shopping, good restaurant options, a movie theater and ample parking,” Andre McCain, owner of HalfSmoke, said in a statement Wednesday.  “We’re confident that our new HalfSmoke location will become a go-to dining choice for those visiting and experiencing all the Mall has to offer. It is our second venture this year at the Westfield Montgomery Mall, as we opened sister breakfast concept, Butter Me Up, which offers all day breakfast, artisan coffee, fresh juices, and breakfast inspired cocktails.”

David Blair maintains lead in latest Montgomery County Executive election results

Businessman David Blair is still in first place in the 2022 Democratic Montgomery County Executive primary race, after another day of vote canvassing at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College. When the Montgomery County Board of Elections released the latest totals at 11:00 PM last night, Blair was up to 44,722 votes (39.33%), and runner-up Marc Elrich still a close second at 44,577 votes (39.21%). Believe it or not, no votes will be counted today! Canvassing of mail-in ballots will resume Friday at 10:00 AM at the college.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

New apartment building proposed by Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville

Development firm Hines, in partnership with WMATA, is proposing a new mixed-use development adjacent to the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville, which would require approval of an amendment to the existing Twinbrook Commons project plan. The development would be built on an assembled lot of 1800 and 1818 Chapman Avenue and a portion of WMATA property at 1700 Chapman Avenue. A one-story auto repair business at the corner of Chapman and Thompson Avenues will remain in place, and is not part of the project sites being assembled.

The 120'-tall building proposed would include 437 apartments, 5,075 square feet of ground floor retail/restaurant space, a 7,800 SF courtyard and green roof, and a 437-space parking garage. 15% of the apartments would be moderately-priced dwelling units. Hines will work with the City to coordinate design of the public space on the property with a proposed future park and plaza to be constructed by the municipality. City staff noted that there is a lack of parkland in that area today. Unfortunately, the developer has not provided any renderings of the proposed architecture of the development.

New bus circulation routes proposed;
future building shown in gray

A new access point into the Metro station bus loop would be constructed off of Thompson Avenue as part of the project. Current city parking standards require 600 parking spaces for a project of this scope. The applicants are seeking a waiver that would allow them to provide only 437. City planning staff are recommending the waiver be granted, citing the location's proximity to Metro, multiple bus routes and Metro parking garage among the justifications.

One Twinbrook resident who lives on the other side of the Metro/CSX railroad tracks wrote to city staff in opposition to the parking waiver. He said overflow parking from the increasing number of multifamily developments with such waivers will spill over onto residential streets in Twinbrook. "I purchased my house in 1989 with my entire life savings as my down payment," he wrote. "I am convinced that my neighbors did the same thing. We should not be disrespected by the City by ignoring our concerns which directly negatively affect our daily lives." He also noted that there is already insufficient space for the existing bus routes that service the Metro station there, questioning how WMATA can afford to give any away.

There is currently insufficient
sewer capacity for the proposed
development, including this line
shown in orange far from the 
building site in Twinbrook

Another concern expressed by City officials, is sewer capacity.  On July 18, the city's Chief of Engineering, John Scabis, wrote that the Department of Public Works "has determined that portions of the City existing sewer system do not have adequate capacity to serve your proposed development." Scabis outlined several mitigation solutions that Hines will be required to fund and facilitate to receive approval for the project. The existing deficiencies extend to the sewer system in the Twinbrook neighborhood on the other side of the tracks, adding to resident concerns beyond the parking matter.

The sites proposed for assembly are currently home to two industrial buildings. You may recall that they were reviewed for historic designation last year, before the green light was given for their demolition. The project will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at its meeting tonight, July 27, 2022 at 7:00 PM. Staff are recommending approval of the amendment to the Twinbrook Commons project plan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Burglary and assault at Rockville home

Rockville City police responded to a report of a burglary in the Twinbrook area early yesterday morning. The burglary was reported at a home in the 5900 block of Halsey Road at 2:08 AM Monday. Officers did not find evidence of forced entry, meaning the intruder(s) entered through an unlocked door. At least one person reported they were the victim of a 2nd degree assault during the incident.

Photo courtesy RCPD

David Blair regains lead in Montgomery County Executive race

Incumbent Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich fell behind challenger David Blair in the Democratic primary election results Monday. After another day of counting mail-in votes, Blair moved back into the lead with 42,705 total votes (39.33%) as of 11:00 PM Monday night, and Elrich dropped to second place with 42,571 votes (39.20%). Elrich continues to lead in mail-in votes, but enough came in from Blair-friendly precincts yesterday to put him back on top.

As you can see, the vote remains too close to call with only 134 votes currently separating the two men, and the total number of mail-in ballots that will have to be counted before a final tally is still unknown. There will also be provisional ballots to be examined, and you can bet those are going to be scrutinized even more closely with the tightness of this race.

Please note, there will be no counting of votes today. It is a scheduled day off for volunteers, according to the Board of Elections calendar. Canvassing will resume at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College on Wednesday. So another day of suspense, and this time, it is Blair supporters who are feeling a boost of optimism.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Indecent exposure in King Farm area of Rockville

An indecent exposure incident was reported to Rockville City police Saturday morning, July 23, 2022, in the King Farm community. The incident was reported on an unspecified block of Watkins Overlook at 6:30 AM. That street runs alongside King Farm Stream Valley Park.

Rockville construction site burglarized

Rockville City police responded to a report of a burglary at a home construction site in the Lincoln Park area yesterday morning. The burglary was reported in the 300 block of Frederick Avenue. Officers found evidence of forced entry at the scene. It is believed the burglary occurred between 7:00 PM Saturday and 7:13 AM Sunday.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan accuses Donald Trump of "collusion" with national Democrats in Dan Cox victory

After taking a pounding from President Donald Trump since the blowout victory of Trump's chosen Republican candidate in the Maryland governor race, current Gov. Larry Hogan (R) made the rounds of Sunday talk shows to fire back. Hogan reiterated on CNN his belief that Cox will not win in November, and made an unsubtantiated new charge that Trump colluded with national Democrats to secure the nomination for Cox. 

There is no evidence of such collusion, and Hogan did not provide any on the program. CNN host Jake Tapper joined Hogan in falsely accusing Cox of being a QAnon supporter. "He embraced the QAnon insanity," Tapper said of Cox at the outset of his interview with Hogan. In fact, Cox has never spoken of QAnon during his campaign, much less "embraced" it. 

Cox's newly-nominated Democratic opponent Wes Moore called Cox "dangerous" for Maryland on Saturday, but did not employ the QAnon attack, instead pointing to Cox's "allegiance" to Trump. Cox responded that,"returning power to the people and ending the mandates Moore wishes to force upon us permanently is not dangerous, it is called freedom." 

Democratic gubernatorial nominee
Wes Moore; Gov. Larry Hogan (R) would
not commit to supporting Moore despite
saying he won't vote for the GOP nominee

Hogan has said he will not vote for Cox in November, but would not commit to voting for Moore on CNN Sunday. He was widely criticized for announcing he had voted for the late Ronald Reagan in the 2020 election, rather than supporting Trump's opponent, Joe Biden. Hogan may simply be out of touch with Maryland Republicans, who also nominated Michael Peroutka for Attorney General last Tuesday. Peroutka has been endorsed by Cox and shares his positions against pandemic "lockdowns, mandates, and violations of parental and medical rights." But Peroutka handily defeated moderate Republican James Shalleck, without any spending on his behalf by the Democratic Governors Association.

Photos via CNN (top)/Wes Moore for Governor

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Elrich maintains slim lead over Blair in Montgomery County Executive race as counting continues

Marc Elrich is still ahead of David Blair in the Democratic Montgomery County Executive race, as mail-in ballots continue to favor the incumbent over his businessman challenger. As of 11:00 PM last night, Elrich has 38,859 votes (39.36%) and Blair is extremely close behind at 38,583 (39.08%). That means it's still anybody's game, but Elrich voters' spirits surely are buoyed by another consecutive day of mail-in counting going his way. Today will be a day of suspended suspense - and one of rest for the volunteers doing the hard work - as the Montgomery County Board of Elections canvassing schedule shows Sunday, July 24, as a day off from counting.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Car stolen from Rockville townhome

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a stolen car at a Rockville townhome community yesterday morning. The vehicle was reported stolen from a residential parking lot in the 14900 block of Forest Landing Circle, off Muddy Branch Road. It is believed the vehicle was stolen sometime between 10:00 PM Thursday and 10:00 AM on Friday.

Photo courtesy Google Maps

Marc Elrich overtakes David Blair in Montgomery County Executive race as vote counting continues

Incumbent Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has, temporarily at least, moved ahead of challenger David Blair in the Democratic primary race, thanks to the second-day results from mail-in ballots. Blair had led in early voting and Election Day balloting, but Elrich gained and passed him as mail-in ballots were counted. 

Updated numbers released by the Montgomery County Board of Elections at 11:00 PM last night show Elrich with 35,300 votes (39.30%) and Blair with 35,004 (38.97%). Whether the trend will continue is not possible to say. On the one hand, mail-in voters might favor Elrich, and he could maintain his new lead; on the other, the precincts counted might have simply been Elrich strongholds, to be overturned by Blair-won precincts as counting continues. Enough uncounted votes remain for either man to win at this point.

Donald Trump rips into "RINO" Larry Hogan, gloats over Dan Cox win in Maryland at Arizona rally

President Donald Trump was in Arizona last night to campaign for Republican governor candidate Kari Lake, and U.S. Senate hopeful Blake Masters. But addressing a crowd of thousands at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Trump had Maryland on his mind. Specifically, the humiliating defeat his chosen GOP candidate, Dan Cox, had inflicted on Trump nemesis Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the gubernatorial primary race there this past Tuesday night. Cox defeated Hogan-endorsed Kelly Schulz 54.05% to 41.83%.

Trump delivered several bodyslams to Hogan in last night's speech. He compared Hogan to retiring "RINO" Arizona governor Doug Ducey (R), ridiculed his physical appearance, needled the pre-election Cox skeptics on Fox News, and declared he had put a quick end to Hogan's rumored 2024 presidential run.

"We had a big win, though, you saw that in Maryland, right?" Trump began, digressing from a sales pitch on Masters' merits. "You have a RINO governor there, very much like Ducey, actually - just not as good-looking. Actually, Ducey's not great, but he's better looking than this guy...Hogan - Larry Hogan. Do you ever hear of him? Real RINO."

"And he supported somebody, and everybody said - I was watching Fox News, and they were saying, 'Oh, no, no,' the person he was supporting [Kelly Schulz], they have it made. And they said, one of the people said, 'Well, but this other person, Dan Cox, not a lot of people had heard about, but he's very good,' He said, 'Dan Cox has the Trump endorsement.' 'Well, no, I know, but this person has been around, she's gonna win.'...Dan Cox won by 19 points! And he'll be great. So much for Larry Hogan's presidential ambition. All he has to do is look into a mirror, and he'll say, 'It's not gonna work.'" 

Photo courtesy C-SPAN

Friday, July 22, 2022

Tom Perez on media calling Maryland governor race for Wes Moore: "Not so fast"

A number of news outlets declared Wes Moore the victor in the Democratic Maryland governor race today, and the campaign of Tom Perez is pushing back. "Put simply, it’s too early to call this race," Perez campaign manager Sean Downey said in a statement. "Yesterday was the first day of counting for the 212,962 recorded and received vote-by-mail ballots and it was a huge day for Tom Perez. He flipped multiple counties from election day and made major vote gains statewide, all while as many as 80,000 votes remain in Montgomery County — the largest remaining vote share and Tom's incredibly strong base."

Perez has led the race decisively in Montgomery County since vote-counting began Tuesday night, at times hold double the number of votes Moore had in the jurisdiction. A resident and former county councilmember in Montgomery, Perez is now clearly counting on a hometown mail-in vote bonanza to even up the statewide race.

Moore has led statewide in the early voting and Election Day counts. In addition to the over 200,000 mail-in ballots, there are also 15,630 provisional ballots to be reviewed and counted. The winner will face off against Green Party candidate Nancy Wallace, Libertarian candidate David Lashar, and Republican nominee Dan Cox in November.

PGA Tour Superstore sets opening date in Rockville

The new PGA Tour Superstore at 5100 Nicholson Lane at White Flint Plaza finally has a tee-off date. Your big box golf store adventure will begin on Saturday, July 30, 2022 with a grand opening weekend celebration. There will be $30,000 in golf and tennis giveaways at the store. The PGA Tour Superstore will fill the void left by the closure of the nearby Golf Galaxy, which closed in 2018.

Photo courtesy PGA Tour Superstore

Slapfish encounters rough seas in Rockville

The seas appear to have turned rough for Slapfish at 12033 Rockville Pike. A sub-lease opportunity is being offered for the fast casual seafood restaurant at the Montrose Crossing shopping center. Commercial real estate firm KNLB is marketing the sublease as a "discreet listing," with the admonition, "Please do not disturb tenant," in the marketing brochure. Slapfish opened at Montrose Crossing in 2018, and remains open for business.

Waters appear choppy for the brand beyond Rockville. A Slapfish location on M Street in Washington, D.C. has closed, and their Ballston restaurant closed last December. The founders of the Huntington Beach, California-based chain sold their interest to their partnering investment firm two weeks ago. According to Nation's Restaurant News, 30 new Slapfish locations planned for Arkansas and Texas have been canceled.

Image via KNLB

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Rockville police arrest suspect in Rockville Town Square shooting

Rockville police have made an arrest in the July 15, 2022 shooting on Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square. Najee Emani Hardy-Estwick, 23, address unknown, was arrested by RCPD Investigators on Tuesday, and was charged with attempted First-Degree Murder, First Degree Assault Reckless Endangerment, Possession of a Firearm and other firearm related offenses. Hardy-Estwick was taken to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) where he is being held at this time. He is accused of shooting an adult male three times during an altercation; the victim remains hospitalized, but is expected to recover from his wounds.

Shelves still not stocked at new Amazon Fresh store in Rockville (Photos)

The interior of the new Amazon Fresh store opening soon at 15790 Shady Grove Road on the border of Rockville and Gaithersburg is complete, but merchandise is still not on the shelves and displays. I do see many shipping boxes filled with adhesive labels for price guns inside the front entrance. That is clearly a necessary step toward stocking the shelves. 

While we are waiting for the opening, there are two new in-store benefits for Amazon Prime members at Amazon Fresh grocery stores, including this one when it opens. The first is 20% off "everyday essential" items year-round. Second, is 20% off on a rotating selection of prepared foods, that will change about once a week. You can identify eligible items by their blue bubble tag that reads, "Prime Member Exclusive Deal."

David Blair remains ahead of Marc Elrich in too-close-to-call Montgomery County Executive race

David Blair

Counting of mail-in ballots
to begin today

Despite the counting of all early voting and election day ballots, a winner cannot yet be declared in the Democratic race for Montgomery County Executive. David Blair has led the contest by a thin margin for most of the hours since the polls closed Tuesday night. As of right now, Blair leads incumbent Marc Elrich 39.63% to 38%. But more than 20,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted, and that tabulation will begin this morning. 

Third-place finisher Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer conceded the race in an interview with Bethesda Beat yesterday, and later on Twitter. "Earlier today I conceded," Riemer tweeted. "I did so full of gratitude and optimism. Gratitude to our incredible supporters. Optimism because of what we accomplished together - Ushering in a new era of progressivism in our County. Our work continues — to say YES to progress!" 

The full impact of Riemer's campaign won't be known until a winner is declared. His respectable current 20.40% showing bests any of Elrich and Blair's 2018 competitors in the executive race. Businessman Peter James is at 1.98% in last place as of this morning, and Republican Reardon Sullivan has decisively won his primary for County Executive.

Leaders in the Democratic County Council races as of this morning are as follows:

At-Large: Evan Glass (18.26%), Will Jawando (17.27%), Gabe Albornoz (15.50%), Laurie-Anne Sayles (13.39%)

District 1: Andrew Friedson (100%) [unopposed]

District 2: Marilyn Balcombe (46.98%)

District 3: Sidney Katz (57.98%)

District 4: Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart (44.52%)

District 5: Kristin Mink (40%)

District 6: Natali Fani Gonzalez (53.55%)

District 7: Dawn Luedtke (31.47%)

All Democratic Council primary winners except Friedson will face Republican opponents in the November election: 

Christopher Fiotes, Lenard Lieber and Dwight Patel (At-Large); Dan Cuda (District 2); George Hernandez (District 3); Cheryl Riley (District 4); Kate Woody (District 5); Viet H. Doan (District 6); and Harold C. Maldonado (District 7). 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Rockville apartment burglarized

Rockville City police responded to a report of a break-in at an apartment early yesterday morning, July 19, 2022. The burglary was reported at an apartment in the 400 block of Blandford Street near Richard Montgomery High School at 2:50 AM. Officers arriving at the scene found evidence of forced entry into the apartment.

Update on new Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins in Rockville (Photos)

The drive-thru menu board has been installed at the future Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins at 16268 Frederick Road in Rockville. It is located on the Shady Grove Road side of the property. The existing Dunkin' Donuts at 16220 Frederick Road will relocate over here when it is completed. We now can see which Baskin Robbins items can be ordered at the drive-thru, a rare amenity for an ice cream shop.