Monday, July 31, 2023

Rockville Wegmans opening delayed to 2025 (Photos)

With construction of the Phase 1 building of Twinbrook Quarter rounding into the home stretch at Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, many including me assumed interior fit-out of the Wegmans grocery store in the ground floor would begin before the end of the year, and that the Wegmans would open in 2024. But the Rockville Wegmans is now anticipated to open in 2025. Here's a look at the latest stage of construction at the site:

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Car stolen from home in Derwood

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from a home in Derwood. The vehicle was parked along the street in the 7000 block of Horizon Terrace. Property was also stolen from another vehicle on that block. It is believed the car was stolen sometime between 9:30 PM on July 27, 2023, and 7:17 AM July 28.

Thousands still reporting power outages in Montgomery County the day after thunderstorm hits area

Pepco crews staging at a 7-Eleven store
in Montgomery County this morning

Over 10,000 Pepco customers remain without power this morning in Montgomery County, but that number is down about 60,000 from the height of last evening's thunderstorm damage. The weather event, and resulting tree and power line damage, has been one of the few significant tests for Pepco since the electric utility was acquired by Exelon in 2016. Yesterday's storm appeared deceptively routine for late summer, but spawned straight line winds in areas like North Bethesda and Rockville, and had some in Northwest Washington, D.C. reporting a tornado in their community.

Southwest Bethesda neighborhoods like Springfield, Sumner, Wood Acres, Bannockburn and Spring Hill are still experiencing significant power outages. Grid resiliency issues reared their head again in the Westbard area long after skies had cleared Saturday night. Residents there who were fortunate enough to retain power after the storm last night report experiencing brownouts at 2:12 AM and 4:32 AM. The 4:32 AM brownout was an extended one, as after a split-second blackout that ravaged appliance motors, light fixtures were shimmering and flickering until all power was lost around 4:45 AM. Power was then restored around 4:48 AM. Interestingly, both brownout episodes reported seem to coincide with brand new power outages in the Westbard and Wood Acres/Searl Terrace areas, which the Pepco outage map indicates were reported at 2:15 AM (Searl Terrace) and 4:53 AM (Westbard Avenue). This morning's brownouts follow three sunny day brownouts in the Westbard area two weeks ago.

In North Bethesda, apartment building residents reported being in the dark Saturday night, and outages persist around Grosvenor, Garrett Park, Tilden Lane, Randolph Hills and the Randolph Road corridor this morning. Things aren't looking much better in the Twinbrook and Rollins Park areas of Rockville.

Aspen Hill is still smarting today with many outages. Fortunately for those without air conditioning, today's high will "only" be 85 degrees, instead of the 99 degree peak experienced last Friday. Outages also persist around Leisure World, Bel Pre Road, Wheaton, Kensington, Kemp Mill, Takoma Park, Hillandale, Colesville and Fairland. 

The storm appears to have cut a straight path across Montgomery Village, Goshen, and Laytonsville, judging from the large number of outages there. Outages remain in the Kentlands, Montgomery College-Germantown campus, Olney and Sandy Spring areas. 

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Police called after assault at Rockville apartment complex

Rockville City police were called to an apartment complex in the Twinbrook area after someone reported having been the victim of a 2nd degree assault there. The assault was reported in a residential parking lot in the 13000 block of Twinbrook Parkway at 11:15 PM on July 27, 2023.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Two cars stolen from same garage in Derwood

Montgomery County police are investigating the thefts of two vehicles in Derwood early yesterday morning, July 27, 2023. The vehicles were taken from a residential parking garage in the 16000 block of Redland Road. It is believed that the vehicles were stolen sometime between 12:30 AM and 6:50 AM Thursday morning.

Armed robbery, auto theft, burglary at townhome in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of an armed robbery at a townhome community in the Tower Oaks area of Rockville yesterday morning, July 27, 2023. One or more burglars gained entry to a townhome in the 1200 block of Treasure Oak Court, and committed an armed robbery with a weapon other than a firearm. A vehicle was reported stolen from the residence, as well. Police responded to the scene at 11:00 AM Thursday.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Montgomery County police deploy new stealth police cruisers for Vision Zero traffic enforcement

Starting today, there are two more reasons to obey the speed limit. Montgomery County police have deployed two new "slick top" cruisers as of this morning, July 27, 2023. Both new Dodge Charger models are designed with stealthy features to avoid premature detection by leadfoot or texting drivers. They each have lights inside the top of the windshield and rear window, rather than on the roof. The "ghost graphics" model has nearly-invisible MCPD markings on its exterior, which are very subtle in the daytime, but are highly-reflective at night.

MCPD says both cruisers are being deployed for Vision Zero traffic enforcement. Officers driving them will be on the lookout for drivers who are speeding, texting while driving, not wearing seatbelts, driving impaired or driving aggressively. Both will be driven by Central Traffic Unit officers, who will be in full uniform.

BioTec USA Skin Care to reopen August 1 at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

BioTec USA Skin Care
's Westfield Montgomery Mall location in Bethesda is temporarily closed. The clinic is scheduled to reopen next Tuesday, August 1, 2023. Look for BioTec next week on Level 2 of the mall, next to Avalon in the Nordstrom wing.

Last 4 days of Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby in Rockville

The final countdown to closure is on at Bed Bath & Beyond at 1519 Rockville Pike and Buy Buy Baby at 1683 Rockville Pike. Both stores will close forever in just 4 days. As you can see from the signs in these photos, the savings are at the maximum now, with both stores touting 70-90% off the entire store. Just don't expect fully-stocked shelves overflowing with merchandise at this point.

Both brands may still have a future ahead: bought the Bed Bath & Beyond brand, and will rename itself...Bed Bath & Beyond. New Jersey company Dream on Me won the auction for the Buy Buy Baby IP - and then proceeded to acquire the leases of 11 Buy Buy Baby stores. But no word yet if we'll finally learn what the "Beyond" is.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Prince George's County officials endorse Will Jawando for U.S. Senate in Maryland

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando announced four new endorsements from elected officials in Prince George's County this morning, in his campaign for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Ben Cardin in January 2025. Laurel City Councilmembers Martin Mitchell and Carl Dewalt, Colmar Manor Mayor Monica Casañas, and Mount Rainier Mayor Celina Benitez joined Jawando for a press conference in Laurel to make the announcement. The Democratic electorate in Prince George's is key to victory in any statewide race.

Councilmember Mitchell zeroed in on a central Jawando campaign theme in his endorsement statement. “From his work on the County Council to stabilize rents to his commitment to introduce a Universal Basic Income program in the U.S. Senate, it is clear to me that Will Jawando is the only true progressive in this race," Mitchell said. "We need a new generation of leaders in every part of our government — ones that will prioritize voting rights, action on climate change, and a vision of equity for all. That’s why I’m proud to stand by Will in his race to be Maryland’s next U.S. Senator.”

Mayor Casañas also echoed Jawando's effort to claim the progressive lane in the race, which has been left open by the decision of Congressman Jamie Raskin to pass on the 2024 Senate contest.  “As a community activist, I know that the only option in this race is Will Jawando," she said. "I have had the honor of working alongside Will Jawando on the Montgomery County Council to promote and advance English literacy in adult communities. Will is a partner in building equity and opportunity for marginalized communities and that’s exactly what he will do in the U.S. Senate.”

Jawando's recent role in the passing of rent stabilization in Montgomery County was mentioned by several of the endorsers, including Councilmember Dewalt. “I’ve spent a career working on behalf of the citizens of Laurel, both as a police officer and now as the Councilmember for Ward 1," Dewalt said. "Will has delivered for his constituents in Montgomery County time and time again; his efficacy as a legislator is unparalleled, look only to his recent success in passing rent stabilization in the largest county in Maryland. I look forward to working with him when he is elected to be our next U.S. Senator.”

“I am so proud to earn the endorsements of Councilmembers Mitchell and Dewalt and Mayors Casañas and Benitez," Jawando said in a statement. While I have been honored to serve on the Montgomery Council Council for the past 5 years, the truth is that there’s so much more to Maryland in addition to Montgomery County – and my expanding progressive coalition spans across the state. Prince George’s County is a beautiful bastion of diversity, economic development, and some of Maryland’s best.

“I intend to win this race by bringing together all the communities that make our state great, spanning across racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic lines. These endorsements today help demonstrate our campaign’s strength in this regard, and over the next few months, I will continue to show that this message resonates with all Marylanders.

“As we continue to expand my coalition, I plan to travel all across the state and take no vote for granted. Our vision for Maryland’s future will lift everyone up, no matter your ZIP Code. I look forward to working alongside all of these excellent public servants between now and election day.”

Loehmann's Plaza redevelopment proposed in Rockville

The owner of Loehmann's Plaza at 5926 Randolph Road is proposing a long-term redevelopment of the shopping center property. Rosenfeld Investments, LLC has proposed a first phase of redevelopment that will add 84 townhomes to the property, very similar to what was completed recently at Cabin John Village in Potomac. A future stage would see the entire property redeveloped with nearly 600 more housing units in the form of apartments, as well as 50,000-square-feet of retail and a pedestrian woonerf street designed to be shared by pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.
Existing shopping center

Proposed Phase 1 redevelopment with
townhomes at left and right

Historic Holiday Inn reopens in Gaithersburg

The historic Holiday Inn Gaithersburg hotel that once welcomed Elvis Presley, Rock Hudson, Sonny and Cher, and Liberace is now once again welcoming guests. Located at 2 Montgomery Village Avenue right off of I-270, the hotel closed during the pandemic in 2020. After years of troubling rumors about the fate of the property, there was wonderful news from owner B.F. Saul on Monday that the hotel has been updated and reopened to the traveling public. 

A hotel that once gained national attention for its $1400-a-night Presidential Suite, the Holiday Inn Gaithersburg is back with 160 guest rooms of multiple configurations. All 160 rooms feature expanded workspaces, pillow-top mattresses, 50” flat screen TVs, in-room mini fridges and microwaves, and an array of complimentary Dove bath products. All rooms are available to book now with rates starting at $119 per night.

Longtime residents will remember this Holiday Inn, like many of the chain's hotels in decades past, was a popular dining destination in Montgomery County. The reopened hotel is striving to meet that standard again with its full-service restaurant, Harvest Plates & Pints. Operating hours will be 6:30 AM to 11:00 AM for breakfast, and 4:00 PM to 10:30 PM for dinner. Weekend brunchers will not want to miss the IHG breakfast buffet at the restaurant.

Event planning is also back in full swing at the hotel. Reopened are eight event rooms with 8,000 sq ft of flexible space, including a 350-person ballroom and the hotel’s renowned Washingtonian Room. Catering and banquet spaces have been fully restored for social or corporate functions. Support for business guests is rounded out by hotel-wide free high speed WiFi, and a 24-hour business center. There is also a 24-hour gift shop where guests can purchase packaged snacks, beverages and sundries.

“We are proud and excited that this iconic hotel will again serve the residents, visitors, and businesses of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County," B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group President Mark Carrier said in a statement. "Welcome!” Reservations can be made online, or by calling 301.948.8900. 

Photos courtesy Holiday Inn Gaithersburg

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Tequila Modern Mexican opening soon in Rockville

Here's an update on Tequila Modern Mexican, the new restaurant opening soon at 11 N. Washington Street in Rockville Town Center. The chain's first Maryland location could open as soon as next month. Operating hours will be 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays. Their Virginia locations serve over 50 varieties of tequila, as well as a Cheesecake Chimichanga, according to their website.

Monday, July 24, 2023

McDonald's Cookies & Creme Pie arrives in Montgomery County

There's a new addition to the dessert menu at McDonald's in Montgomery County. The Cookies & Creme Pie features a baked chocolate crust, with a creme filling that also holds Oreo-style chocolate cookie pieces. This pie is reportedly not available in every market across the country, so we were fortunate to be one of those to have it. The pie will be available for a limited time only, as will the Oreo Frappe.

3 restaurants close at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Three tenants in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda appear to have cleared out. Signage has been removed at Ya Mon Island Grill. Malia's Kitchen and Adonni's Desserts are still intact, but they haven't been open during operating hours for weeks. Coming soon to the mall are Pollo Campero and VinoRita.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Assault at Regal Cinemas in Rockville

Rockville City police were summoned to Regal Cinemas Rockville at 199 E. Montgomery Avenue on Friday night after an assault was reported at the cineplex. Police responded to the theater at 8:06 PM Friday, July 21, 2023. This was the second assault reported in the Town Center area on Friday.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Montgomery County condo prices surge 9.7%

Montgomery County condominium prices surged 9.7% from May to June, Axios D.C. reported this morning. Since taking a majority of the seats on the Montgomery County Council in 2002 with the End Gridlock slate, the Montgomery County cartel has assured us that building more housing units will lower prices. Yet, after building thousands and thousands of new units since then, lower rents and housing prices continue to elude Montgomery County homebuyers. 

Condo prices have gotten so exorbitant in condo-construction-crazy Washington, D.C., Axios D.C. reported, that units there are now sitting long on the market because only a small segment of buyers can afford them. It will be interesting to see if the increasing value of condos will spur builders to convert any of their future planned developments from rental apartments to condos. We saw a lot of quick flipping back and forth in the construction years right after the "Great Recession," in places like downtown Bethesda. For example, just during its construction phase alone, the 7770 Norfolk development went from rental to condos and then back to rental apartments.

Water main break in Rockville

There is a major water main break in the 2500 block of Lindley Terrace in Rockville this morning. The street is expected to be closed for several hours, according to Rockville City police. Rockville water customers in the area can expect water service disruptions as a Rockville public works crew repairs the break. This is in the Rockshire area near Glenora Park.

Photo courtesy RCPD

Assault at Rockville grocery store

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a grocery store in the Town Center area yesterday morning, July 21, 2023. The assault was reported at a store in the 200 block of N. Washington Street at 8:09 AM Friday. Dawson's Market is located on that block of N. Washington Street at Rockville Town Square.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Rockville home broken into

Rockville City police responded to a report of a residential burglary yesterday morning, July 20, 2023. The burglary was reported at a home in the 1300 block of Veirs Mill Road at 9:58 AM Thursday. Officers arriving at the scene found evidence of forced entry at the home.

Assault at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police were called to Westfield Montgomery Mall Wednesday afternoon, July 19, 2023, where an individual reported having been the victim of a 2nd degree assault. The assault was reported at 5:45 PM Wednesday. This is the third assault reported this year at the mall, and the first since January. Police responded to twelve reports of assaults at the mall in 2022.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

New Rockville townhome community draws inspiration from adjacent historic farm

One of the last remaining vestiges of Rockville's agricultural history is inspiring a future townhome community beginning construction next door. Developer EYA has decided on Farmstead District as the branding for the new community, which will rise on the former site of King Buick GMC at 16200 Frederick Road. A logo for the development somewhat resembles rows of crops as seen from above. Promotional banners for the Farmstead District have been placed on construction fencing around the site.

One can still see original farm buildings at the public King Farm Farmstead park at 16100 Frederick Road. The King dealership has just been demolished, and the property has been annexed into the City of Rockville.

EYA is playing up the farm theme with the tagline "A fresh take on the modern neighborhood." W. Lawson King acquired the farm in 1925, local historical preservation group Peerless Rockville says. He added surrounding farmland to create the 403-acre Irvington Farm, which at one point boasted the largest population of Holstein cows in the world, Miriam Bunow wrote for Peerless. Irvington was a milk supplier for Thompson's Dairy, a household name in the D.C. area for older generations. The heritage of the site will now be shared by Farmstead District residents and their neighbors at the King Farm development.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Rockville resident kidnapped at gunpoint, stabbed, forced to allow robbers to loot his apartment

A Rockville resident was kidnapped at gunpoint in his apartment building garage, stabbed, bound with zip ties, and forced to lead his hooded and masked captors upstairs to his home, Montgomery County police said this morning. Police were called to the building on Key West Avenue at 1:25 AM on Monday, July 10, 2023 for a reported home invasion robbery. They found the adult male victim suffering from serious injuries, and he was transported to a local hospital.

The victim has told detectives that six Black males in their twenties approached him after he exited his vehicle in the parking garage of his apartment building. They displayed handguns, and informed the victim that this was a robbery. The suspects then stabbed and assaulted the victim, and used zip ties to bind his hands behind his back. He was forced into the suspect's vehicle, where they demanded he accompany them up to his apartment.

After the victim was led upstairs to his apartment by the suspects, the men took a safe holding an undisclosed amount of cash and jewelry, and fled the scene. Family members of the victim in the apartment were not harmed, police said. 

Detectives have released surveillance video from the apartment building's elevator, and from the victim's apartment. One of the suspects is described by police as a Black male, in his twenties, with curly hair, medium build and armed with a handgun. He was wearing a black ski mask and black clothing. Police have not given a more detailed description of the other five suspects.

Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this crime or the suspects involved to call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects. Callers may remain anonymous. 


Car stolen from Rockville apartment complex

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from a Rockville apartment complex. The vehicle was stolen from the parking lot of a complex in the 13000 block of Twinbrook Parkway. It is believed the vehicle was taken sometime between 2:30 PM on Sunday, July 16, 2023, and 12:00 AM on Monday, July 17.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Rockville gas station broken into

Rockville City police responded to a burglar alarm at a gas station early Saturday morning, July 15, 2023. The burglary occurred around 3:40 AM at a gas station in the 1200 block of E. Gude Drive. Officers arriving at the scene found evidence of forced entry. 

Monday, July 17, 2023

Flagship Express car wash "coming soon" to Rockville

Flagship Express
, a new service concept from Flagship Carwash, is "coming soon" to the company's currently-shuttered car wash site at 785 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Express locations offer exterior automatic washes on flat-belt conveyors, 3 unlimited levels of membership packages, and free vacuums, towels and compressed air. The old self-service bays at this Rockville location have been demolished to make way for the Express facilities. Flagship has two locations in operation in Montgomery County at this time: North Bethesda, and Germantown.