Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Montgomery County loses another corporate HQ to Virginia

There goes another one. Amentum Services, a leading government contractor in the fields of engineering, project management and advanced solutions integration, is moving from Germantown to Chantilly in Fairfax County, Virginia. The latest corporate decision to choose Virginia over Montgomery County will bring 157 new jobs to Fairfax County - good jobs with high pay. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) announced the move in a press release Monday.

According to Youngkin's statement, Virginia competed directly with Maryland to woo Amentum, which has 44,000 employees working in 85 countries around the world. “Fairfax County offers the location, access to decision-makers, and talent pipeline that global providers like Amentum are seeking, and we are proud to welcome the company’s leadership and operations team to Virginia,” Youngkin said. “Amentum joins the ranks of the Commonwealth’s diversified ecosystem of more than 800 corporate headquarters across a broad cross-section of industries.”

“I want to thank and congratulate Amentum for choosing Fairfax County for its home base,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay said in statement. “Our long-term investment into making Fairfax County the top choice to locate a global business continues to bear fruit, and I am thrilled that Amentum has chosen to take advantage of what we offer.” 

Amentum is the latest corporation to abandon moribund Montgomery County for Virginia, or choose Virginia over Maryland in a relocation search. It joins Amazon, Northrop Grumman, Volkswagen, Lidl, Hilton Hotels, Intelsat, Corporate Executive Board, Nestle, Lego, and Gerber, to name a few. 

Montgomery County and Maryland have had difficulty even gobbling up the crumbs under Virginia's dinner table. When Youngkin made the surprising decision to reject a Ford Motor Company battery plant recently, Maryland wasn't even a serious contender to grab the jump ball. That fumble apparently happened on the watch of former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the 2018-2022 Montgomery County Council, as Michigan was quickly named as Ford's backup choice. 

Armed robbery at Rockville restaurant

Rockville City police responded to a report of an armed robbery at a restaurant in the Fallsgrove area of Rockville late Saturday night. The robbery was reported at a restaurant in the 14900 block of Shady Grove Road at 11:52 PM, February 25, 2023. That is in the Fallsgrove Village Center. A food delivery driver was robbed at gunpoint in Fallsgrove a few days earlier, on February 18.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Police respond to fight at Rockville Town Square

Twenty-four hours after an aggravated assault was reported at Rockville Town Square, police were back at the property after a fight broke out on Gibbs Street around 2:00 AM Sunday morning, February 27, 2023. Twitter user @Trellis_DMV captured video footage of officers at the scene. "This is a sample of the nightly BS that goes on around 2am that the police make zero efforts to respond to in spite of nightly noise complaints," he tweeted.

Photo courtesy @Trellis_DMV via Twitter

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Aggravated assault at Rockville Town Square

Rockville City police responded to a report of an aggravated assault at Rockville Town Square early yesterday morning, February 25, 2023. The assault was reported in a parking area on the Gibbs Street/N. Washington Street side of the development at 2:42 AM Saturday morning.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Rockville man charged in Cricket Wireless robbery and assault (Video)

Montgomery County police have arrested and charged a suspect in the recent robbery of the Cricket Wireless store, at 2102 Veirs Mill Road in the Twinbrook Center in Rockville. Craig Donnell Johnson of Rockville, age not given, was taken into custody Wednesday in connection with the February 18, 2023 robbery and the assault of an employee. 

Detectives say that Johnson entered the store at 4:15 in the afternoon that day, approached a store employee, and asked to see a specific phone. As the employee retrieved the phone, Johnson allegedly covered his face and followed her to the back of the store. He then allegedly grabbed her in a headlock, and demanded she open the cash register. 

When Johnson noticed that the employee's daughter was coloring in a coloring book in the rear of the store, detectives say he ordered the child into the employee restroom. He allegedly took the keys to the register from the employee, and ordered her into the bathroom with her daughter. When he was unable to open the register with the keys, Johnson allegedly commanded the victim to come out of the bathroom and open it. When she complied, Johnson assaulted her, and ran out of the store with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Johnson has been charged with robbery and 2nd degree assault. His bail status was not disclosed by police. Detectives have released a portion of the surveillance camera video of the robbery and assault.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Signage installed at LaserAway in Rockville

The permanent sign has been installed at LaserAway, opening soon at 926 Rose Avenue, in the ground floor of the Canopy by Hilton hotel at Pike & Rose. This was previously the location of Taylor Gourmet.  LaserAway is a laser hair removal practice with locations in 24 states and the District of Columbia. It also offers botox treatments, tattoo removal, photofacials, dermal fillers, Thermage skin tightening, Coolsculpting fat removal, Clear + Brilliant laser treatments and other skincare services. 

Rockville biotech firm to expand with new lab space in Gaithersburg

Rockville-based Shuttle Pharmaceuticals will expand its footprint within Montgomery County this summer. The company announced yesterday that it is leasing additional laboratory and office space at an unspecified property in Gaithersburg. Shuttle Pharmaceuticals was founded by faculty members of Georgetown University Medical Center in 2012, and specializes in improving radiation therapy treatments for cancer, while attempting to reduce their side effects. Among the therapies in development at Shuttle is Ropidoxuridine, its lead clinical sensitizer drug candidate.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

2 cars stolen on same street in Rockville

At least two vehicles were stolen on the same Rockville street Sunday night, February 19, 2023. Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of two vehicles on Braxfield Court, indicating a coordinated effort by multiple thieves in the Bethesda Park condo community. The vehicles were reported stolen at 7:00 PM and 7:50 PM, respectively. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Taco Bamba in Rockville celebrating National Margarita Day

Celebrate National Margarita Day today, February 22, 2023, at Taco Bamba at 1627 Rockville Pike in the Congressional Plaza shopping center in Rockville.  Taco Bamba's signature Margarita Bamberas and rotating margarita del dia will be available for $5 today only. Their classic Illegal Mezcal Margarita will be available for $8. A few of these, and you, too, will be ready to believe National Margarita Day was started by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

Rockville real estate firm acquired by KLNB

Commercial real estate giant KLNB just got 20% percent bigger with the acquisition of Rockville-based Edge Commercial Real Estate. Located at 2273 Research Boulevard, Edge CRE has expanded to offices in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania in its 16 years in business. Thirty-two Edge employees will join KLNB to form one of the Mid-Atlantic region's most-formidable commercial real estate firms.

The acquisition provides several strategic advantages for KLNB. Edge has developed a specialized business in tenant representation, and that six-person staff is now moving to KLNB. The addition of Edge provides KLNB with entry into the multi-family residential real estate market. And the merger also widens KLNB's presence in Montgomery County, where residential real estate development and biotech remain the only bright spots in an otherwise-moribund county economy. 

“The acquisition of Edge fits perfectly in our timeline for smart and disciplined progression,” KLNB President Marc Menick said in a statement. “Our evolution has always been calculated to ensure it makes sense for our team and our clients. By acquiring Edge, we will be able to do virtually everything we’re already known for, but at an even higher level and a wider reach. And in the case of multi-family, this opportunity brings the KLNB customer experience to a whole new sector that we have wanted to approach for some time.”

Lush temporarily closed at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

is temporarily closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The cruelty-free cosmetics boutique is in the process of relocating inside the mall, according to a sign posted on the door. It seems like another round of post-holiday-season musical chairs is underway at the mall. Swarovski is among the tenants swapping spaces.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

2 the 9s boutique to replace Stuart Weitzman at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos)

2 the 9s
is opening soon at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The fashion boutique will fill the recently-vacated Stuart Weitzman space on Level 2. Window shoppers are already getting a look at some of the styles that will be on sale when it opens. There doesn't appear to be any information or social media pages for the boutique online yet.

Swarovski to open at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Prepare to "rediscover the wonder of crystal." Swarovski is opening soon at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Apparently, Minte has closed, and the Austrian glass jewelry and decor giant is going to replace it. Look for Swarovski when it opens on Level 2 between UNTUCKit and the new mural.

Monday, February 20, 2023

City of Rockville announces change in trash collection schedule for Presidents Day today

The City of Rockville announced a change in trash collection plans for today, February 20, 2023. There will be no trash or recycling collection today, Presidents Day. All collections will slide forward one day this week. So if your collection day is today, it moves to tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21, for this week.

This was a late change in schedule made by Montgomery County's Division of Solid Waste Services, the City said in a statement. "This is a change to what was previously reported in [the City's official newsletter] 'Rockville Reports' and on other city communication channels," the statement concluded.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Rockville delivery driver robbed at gunpoint

Rockville City police responded to a report of an armed robbery in the Fallsgrove area yesterday afternoon, February 18, 2023. A delivery driver was stopped in the 700 block of Fallsgrove Drive near the Thomas Farm Community Center at 4:00 PM. Two male suspects in their late teens or early twenties approached the driver and displayed a handgun. They demanded cash, and the delivery driver complied.

The suspects fled on foot, and the victim was not injured, police say. No physical description of the two suspects was given by police, but they were wearing all-black clothing. Anyone with information about this incident, or about the suspects, is asked to call RCPD Criminal Investigations detectives at 240-314-8938.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Maryland "closely monitoring" air quality after toxic East Palestine, Ohio train derailment

Maryland Department of the Environment
air quality monitoring station

More than a few Maryland residents have been wondering if the toxic chemicals released into waterways and the air from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment might have any environmental or health impacts here. The Maryland Department of the Environment has been "closely monitoring the situation," MDE spokesperson Jay Apperson said Friday evening. Department officials have been focused on impacts from the air, as Apperson said the runoff into the Ohio River will not affect Maryland waterways.

There has been speculation online that pollution such as airborne particulates or acid rain caused by the derailment, and by the controversial clean-up effort of toxic substances from the train cars, could impact neighboring states. Some satellite images shared on social media depicting a plume cloud from the controlled burn-off of chemicals at the crash site showed it passing over Western Maryland at times. 

But Apperson said the state has so far found nothing of concern within our borders. MDE's air quality monitoring station in Garrett County "shows no effect on levels of gas or particulate matter" as of last night, he reported. "The department will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation," Apperson added.

Photo courtesy MDE

Friday, February 17, 2023

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken sets opening date in Rockville

The wait is about to come to an end at Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken at 16248 Frederick Road in Rockville. Rise will open at 7:00 AM this coming Sunday, February 19, 2023 at 7:00 AM. A grand opening event will be held later on, in March. Rise is located in the new Rock Grove Shopping Center.

Rockville brewery launches Mardi Gras-themed beer with all-day party today

Toast Mardi Gras with a beer inspired by the holiday today at True Respite Brewing Company at 7301 Calhoun Place, #600, located off of E. Gude Drive in Rockville. The brewery is rolling out its limited-edition Party Gras, a 6.3% ABV fruited sour ale fermented with passionfruit, and conditioned on tangerine, lime, and a touch of rum extract with an all-day Mardi Gras party today, February 17, 2023. Special guests will include the Calypso N' Roux food truck selling Cajun food, Zydeco band Little Red & the Renegades, and Twitch-streaming tarot coach Skye Marinda.

Photo courtesy True Respite

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Tuesday Morning closing stores in Rockville and Aspen Hill

Tuesday Morning
will close its stores at Congressional Plaza in Rockville, and at Northgate Plaza in Aspen Hill, the company announced. A closing sale is underway, that includes all merchandise, the company said in an announcement. The Dallas-based home goods retailer said it is closing more than half of its stores, but the closures will have to be approved by a bankruptcy court, Business Insider reports. Tuesday Morning filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas on...Tuesday morning.

Rockville police warn of increase in thefts from vehicles this week

Rockville City police report an increase in thefts from vehicles in several communities across Rockville over the last few days. Many of these vehicles had been left unlocked, police said. In cases where the doors had been locked, valuables like purses had been left in plain view inside the vehicle. Thieves then smashed windows to grab those items. The police department exhorted residents in a social media post to "lock it or lose it," and to never leave valuables where they are visible, as thieves are very active in Rockville at the moment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Rockville Amazon Fresh store: "Go big," or go home?

A long-completed but yet-to-open Amazon Fresh store filled with empty shelves on Shady Grove Road has become the local poster child for a nationwide freeze on Amazon's expansion plans in the grocery sector. Amazon successfully opened Amazon Fresh stores in Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase Lake, but the 270 Center store on the border of Rockville and Gaithersburg has been frozen in time since the fall of 2022. Yesterday, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy offered the first update on the cloudy future of the retail giant's bricks-and-mortar grocery adventure to the Financial Times, and it was a vaguely positive one.

Empty shelves inside the completed-but-unopened
Shady Grove Amazon Fresh store

Amazon plans to "go big" on expansion of its physical grocery stores this year, Jassy said in an exclusive interview with the FT. He said the halt he ordered on the openings and leasing of new locations cost the company $720 million in Q4 of 2022, and blamed the problems that warranted the pause on the pandemic. He said that now "we're hopeful that in 2023 we have a format we want to go big on, on the physical side."

That sounds like we can expect the Shady Grove store to go forward this year, and that the hysterical forecasts of all Amazon Fresh stores closing will prove to have been premature. Surprisingly, Jassy sounded more bullish on bricks-and-mortar stores than on the company's Amazon Fresh online delivery service, saying "people want to actually touch and feel" the foods they are buying before making a purchase. The FT noted that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had promised to remain engaged on the grocery push after stepping aside as CEO in 2021. It's likely Bezos wasn't too pleased to hear the company hesitate on a plan that was meant to facilitate major growth in Amazon's online same-day-delivery service, which is dependent upon having neighborhood hubs like the Amazon Fresh grocery stores function as warehouses.

Bezos has a home in Washington, D.C. You can be sure he is going to be monitoring the progress of a Shady Grove store that is practically right under his nose in Montgomery County.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

REWILD, Ever/Body open at Cabin John Village in Potomac

Cabin John Village is welcoming two new tenants to the shopping center in Potomac. REWILD is a houseplant store similar to The Sill that opened recently at Bethesda Row. A wide selection of plants is joined by planters, pots, accessories and plant-themed gifts and decor. They offer a free replanting service with purchase. Look for REWILD at 7937-C Tuckerman Lane, and watch a video preview of what you'll find.

is a spa offering treatments for skin, hair and body. Services include laser facials, Hydrafacial, Botox, Emsculpt NEO and more. Find Ever/Body at 11325 Seven Locks Road, in Suite 690.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Man arrested in Rockville allegedly thought he was meeting a teen girl, but she was really a cop

A Mount Airy, Maryland man traveled to Rockville on January 19. Police say he was expecting to meet up and have a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl he met on social media. She had informed him she was only 15, but he proceeded to "have sexually explicit conversations with her," detectives from the Montgomery County Vice and Intelligence Unit alleged in a press release this afternoon. When the man arrived at the agreed upon meeting place, he discovered that the teen girl was actually a police officer.

Todd Eugene Immel, 51,  was arrested and transported to the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit. He was charged with solicitation of a minor. Immel is currently being held without bond.

V&I detectives are concerned that there may be other victims who have been contacted by Immel. They are encouraging anyone who believes themselves to be a victim, or anyone with information related to this case, to contact the V&I Unit at 240-773-5958 or contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Callers may remain anonymous. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Update on RASA Indian restaurant, opening soon in Rockville (Photos)

Construction of RASA Indian restaurant continues at the Montrose Crossing shopping center at 12033 Rockville Pike. Additional signage - a pedestrian-facing blade sign, and some of the "coming-soon" variety - has been installed on their future storefront. A new front door has been installed. RASA replaces Slapfish, which closed last November.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

JK Beer & Wine closes in Rockville

JK Beer & Wine
has closed at 800 Rockville Pike, in the Golden Arcade strip mall. Signage has been removed from the storefront (or maybe just covered over, for now). A sign in the window states the space is now available for lease. JK Beer & Wine opened here in November 2021, but is still open at its 331 Kentlands Boulevard location in Gaithersburg.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Rockville Wegmans-anchored Twinbrook Quarter development tops out

Construction of Phase 1 of B.F. Saul's Twinbrook Quarter development has topped out at the corner of Rockville Pike (MD 355) and Halpine Road in Rockville. Clark Construction, the lead contractor on the project, made the announcement this afternoon. Twinbrook Quarter has been the most highly-anticipated development in the city since Rockville Town Square, in no small part because its retail anchor will be a Wegmans grocery store. Clark nodded to that by noting that the amount of concrete it has poured for the 12-story building would fill 29,166 Wegmans shopping carts.

Photo courtesy Clark Construction

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Rockville marijuana dispensary seeks parking waiver from City

Peake ReLeaf
, a medical marijuana dispensary in the Chapman Center at 2001 Chapman Avenue, is asking the City of Rockville for a waiver from its current parking requirements. Specifically, it would like permission to reduce its parking mandate by 17 spaces. But if it receives the waiver, the number of surface parking spaces will remain the same. Why seek the waiver, then? It's slightly complicated.

The dispensary business is located in a property that received a previous parking waiver in 1982. That waiver allowed the property to be occupied by several tenants, under the condition that a portion of the building would remain vacant. Peak ReLeaf would now like to occupy that unused space with new medical offices, that would complement its existing retail functions. In order to do that, it must now either create 17 new parking spaces, or receive this waiver from the City.

Peake ReLeaf's parking study indicates that even at peak times of the day, only 70% of its surface parking spaces are filled. The Rockville Planning Commission will review the waiver request at its February 15, 2023 meeting. Planning staff are recommending approval of the waiver, citing the property's proximity to bike lanes and the Twinbrook Metro station. The City has not received any feedback from residents on the proposed waiver so far, but the staff report notes that there is no legal requirement to notify the public of parking waiver requests.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Rockville City Council to expand to six seats in 2024 election

Rockville's Mayor and Council voted unanimously Monday night to expand the number of seats on the City Council from four to six in the 2024 city election. The change was one of several recommended by the Rockville Charter Review Commission to increase turnout and participation in City elections. It will officially become part of the City Charter on the 50th day following the vote, unless a petition signed by 20% of voters is presented to the Mayor and Council by the 40th day calling for it to be overturned.

With the Mayor having one vote equal to a City Councilmember vote, this will make a total of seven elected offices representing city residents. A separate question being taken up by the Council that will determine if the city will be separated into Council districts, or continue electing all offices at-large.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Assault at Rockville convenience store

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a convenience store on Rockville Pike early yesterday morning, February 6, 2023. The assault was reported at a store in the 700 block of Rockville Pike at 1:20 AM. In addition to assault, the suspect is also facing a potential charge of trespassing.

Online ads lead Montgomery County police to illegal massage parlor in Rockville

Montgomery County police detectives with the department's Vice and Intelligence unit have arrested and charged a New York woman with prostitution and sex trafficking. Police say online ads featuring photos of "scantily-clad Asian women in lingerie" led them to an unlicensed massage spa in the 14800 block of Physicians Lane in Rockville. Detectives have not publicly identified the name of the spa; there are three spas on that block.

Starting last November, V&I unit detectives began watching the spa, and noted male clients entering and leaving the business. Using evidence gathered, the detectives were able to obtain a search warrant for the spa premises at the end of December. They executed the warrant on January 4, 2023. Inside, they found an alleged sex trafficking victim, who told them that 63-year-old Yang Jiang had allegedly told her she could make extra money by providing sexual services to her massage clients. 

“This arrest is the third incident in recent months involving an illicit spa and human trafficking in Montgomery County.  This underscores the real and rising threat posed by human trafficking in the region,” MCPD Police Chief Marcus Jones said in a statement Monday. “Victims of human trafficking are not always forced into trafficking by brute, physical means. Victims are often coerced into being trafficked over a period of time through deliberate, psychological tactics used by their traffickers, so the signs of trafficking may not always be obvious. There are several ways that victims of trafficking can obtain help and can contact either the police department directly or the Montgomery County Crisis Center.”  

Anyone with information regarding Yang Jiang is asked to contact the Montgomery County Department of Police Vice and Intelligence Unit at 240-773-5958 or contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Callers may remain anonymous.  

Police urge anyone who is a victim of sex trafficking to contact the Montgomery County Crisis Center. The Crisis Center provides free crisis services 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Services are available to you by telephone (240-777-4000) or in person at 1301 Piccard Drive in Rockville (no appointment needed). Alternatively, you can call 911.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Rockville to hold public hearing tonight on voting age, size of the City Council in future elections

Rockville's Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the city's election laws tonight, Monday, February 6, 2023 at 7:00 PM at City Hall. Changes being considered by the elected officials include lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, permitting non-citizens to vote, setting term limits, creating representative districts instead of electing all seats on an at-large basis, creating an administrative process to fill a vacancy on the council, changing election years to coincide with presidential or gubernatorial elections, and implementing ranked-choice voting. The Mayor and Council will consider the public input from tonight's hearing when it discusses the changes at its February 27 meeting, before taking a final vote.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Assault reported in West End area of Rockville

Rockville City police were dispatched to a home on a quiet cul-de-sac in the West End neighborhood on Friday, February 5, 2023. At least one suspect was accused of 2nd-degree assault, obstructing police and resisting an officer. Officers responded to the house in the 200 block of Adclare Court at 12:14 PM Friday.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Assault at restaurant in Rockville

Rockville City police were called to a restaurant after someone reported being the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a restaurant in the 1400 block of Research Boulevard at 12:00 PM on Thursday, February 2, 2023.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Signage installed at Jolly Yolly in Bethesda

The permanent sign is up at Jolly Yolly Kids at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. An indoor gym, playground and learning center for children, Jolly Yolly can also host birthday parties. Look for Jolly Yolly on Level 1 next to The Cheesecake Factory, in the Old Navy wing of the mall.