Sunday, December 31, 2023

Police respond to assault at Rockville department store

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a Rockville department store Wednesday evening, December 27, 2023. The assault was reported at a store in the 12000 block of Rockville Pike at 8:37 PM. A suspect was also accused of disorderly conduct and trespassing in the same incident.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich touts his top 10 accomplishments of 2023

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has released a year-end video promoting his top ten accomplishments of 2023. Among the ten are the passage of a rent stabilization bill, economic development wins orchestrated by his office that include the creation of an Institute for Health Computing in North Bethesda, record low unemployment, combating climate change, and free access to County-operated fitness centers. Elrich's office also compiled a statistical list of the executive's activities over the past 12 months. They calculated that Elrich attended over 300 community related events and gatherings throughout Montgomery County; over 100 legislative meetings, hearings, and events with federal, state, and County Council officials; and over 150 business visits and meetings related to Montgomery County economic development efforts. 

“By many measures, 2023 was a very good year for Montgomery County,” Elrich said in a statement Friday. “We saw several major economic wins while recording a historically low unemployment rate. Our County government retained its 'Triple-A' rating from all three credit rating agencies and increased our reserves of revenues upward to 17%, well beyond the 10% target. We also had historic levels of investment in education and affordable housing. However, this year was not without its challenges. Public safety concerns, juvenile crime and drug overdoses, as well a dramatic increase of hate incidents and fear in wake of war in the Middle East remain issues that we will have to continue to address in 2024.” 

Elrich recently told WAMU-FM that he intends to run for a third term in 2026. Term limits passed in 2016 restrict the executive and County Councilmembers to three consecutive terms. A petition effort to place a ballot question limiting the executive to only two consecutive terms is currently in progress, led by Elrich's 2022 Republican opponent, Reardon Sullivan.  

HEMIs make their final model year last stand at DARCARS in Rockville (Photos)

It's the end of an era at DARCARS Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram at 755 Rockville Pike in the Ritchie Center. Some of the final "last call" vehicles in the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300 lines are now on the premises. Parent company Stellantis has claimed these will be the final HEMI V8 models of these nameplates to ever be produced. In fact, the last HEMI car rolled off of the Brampton, Ontario assembly line only a few days ago. Earlier in the year, it was rare to see these models on the lot here.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Allcare primary and immediate care clinic opening in Rockville

, a primary and immediate care clinic, is opening a new Rockville location. It will be at 16260 Frederick Road, in the new Rock Grove shopping center. Allcare will be in the space next to Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken. Services will include urgent care, annual physicals, telehealth, weight management and STD testing.

The Good Feet store opens, Lane Bryant closes at Federal Plaza in Rockville

Out with the old and in with the new at one of the many busy shopping destinations in Montgomery County. The Good Feet Store is now open at 12274-D Rockville Pike. Exiting the shopping scene at Federal Plaza is Lane Bryant, which has closed permanently. The plus-size apparel chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020, inititally closing 157 stores. This one survived, but is now getting the axe.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Rockville woman dies after being struck by two drivers on Veirs Mill Road

A Rockville woman was killed after being struck by two drivers on Veirs Mill Road in the city. Teresa Moreno De Mejia, 70, was crossing the busy Maryland state highway at Atlantic Avenue around 6:50 PM Tuesday night, December 26, 2023, Montgomery County police said. She was struck by a Toyota Supra and a Toyota Prius that were traveling eastbound on Veirs Mill. Both drivers remained on the scene, police reported. 

The cause of the collision has not yet been determined, and in their statement, police did not identify the party at fault. Detectives said the incident is still under active investigation. Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact detectives with the Montgomery County Police Department's Collision Reconstruction Unit at (240) 773-6620.   

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Aggravated assault in Rockville parking lot

Rockville City police responded to a report of an aggravated assault in a parking lot early Saturday morning, December 23, 2023. The assault was reported in a commercial parking lot in the 1700 block of Rockville Pike at 12:00 AM Saturday. Property damage was also reported in the incident.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Walk In Closet Beauty Bar opens in Rockville

Walk In Closet Beauty Bar
has opened in Rockville Town Center. It is located in the ground floor of the Cambria Suites hotel at 211 E. Middle Lane, next to Panera Bread. The salon offers makeup, hairstyling, blowout, hair-coloring, and hair extension services. More extensive "glam sessions" are also available for makeovers, or weddings and other special occasions and events. Appointments can be made online.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Maryland minimum wage increases to $15 on January 1, 2024

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (L) and
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

The minimum wage in Maryland will increase to $15 on Monday, January 1, 2024. This statewide increase was signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore (D) earlier this year. Here in Montgomery County, the minimum wage is already $15 or higher for most employers. As a result, only employees of business with 10 or less workers will see their salaries increase on New Year's Day, from $14.50 to $15.00. 

“We applaud Governor Wes Moore’s efforts to help all Marylanders,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said in a statement. “The minimum wage is ultimately about working people being able to earn enough to put a roof over their heads, feed their families and not have to choose between food on the table and medical visits. I want to thank Governor Moore for making this one of his earliest priorities. I was glad to testify on behalf of the legislation, and I support this important State-wide legislation.”

Police called after assault at Rockville restaurant

Rockville City police were called to a restaurant just north of the Town Center area on the afternoon of December 21, 2023, after someone reported being the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a restaurant in the 700 block of Hungerford Drive (MD 355) at 5:00 PM Thursday.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Rockville police seek baby formula thief

A thief who fled a Rockville Safeway store clutching bags loaded down with baby formula is now being sought by Rockville City police. The suspect entered the supermarket at 403 Redland Boulevard in the King Farm Village Center around 8:23 AM on Sunday, December 17, 2023. Environmentally conscious, he allegedly filled several reusable shopping bags with baby formula, and exited the store with his haul.

Police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating the suspect. He is described by police as a Black male, 28 to 30 years old and 6' in height, with a medium build, black hair, full beard, and a medium complexion. The suspect was wearing black New Balance pants, a blue-and-black quarter-zip Under Armour "sweater" with the hood up, and blue athletic shoes. Anyone who has information about the suspect or this incident is asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Assault at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police were called to Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda Wednesday night, December 20, 2023, after a 2nd-degree assault was reported there. The assault was reported at the mall at 9:40 PM Wednesday. This is the fifth assault reported at the mall this year, and the first since October 20. The mall is now virtually assured of ending the year with a major reduction in violent crime in 2023, as 12 assaults were reported there in 2022. This improvement may be attributed to Montgomery County police having opened a "resource room" at the popular retail center during last year's upward trend of assaults.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Assault at government building in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a government building in the Town Center area early yesterday afternoon, December 21, 2023. The assault was reported at 1:59 PM Thursday at a building in the unit block of W. Montgomery Avenue. Property was reported stolen from a vehicle in the same incident.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Police called after aggravated assault with firearm in Rockville office park

Rockville City police responded to a report of an aggravated assault with a firearm in an office park early Monday afternoon, December 18, 2023. The assault was reported in the parking lot outside a building in the unit block of Research Place at 1:00 PM Monday. There are several office buildings and a self-storage business on that cul-de-sac adjacent to I-270.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Rockville office building broken into

Rockville City police were called to an office building Tuesday morning to investigate a break-in there. The burglary was reported at a building in the unit block of Taft Court, off Gude Drive. Officers responding to the scene found evidence of forced entry at the building. It is believed the property was broken into sometime between 4:00 PM on December 18, and 6:09 AM on December 19, 2023.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Demolition of home at 110 North Street in Rockville appears likely (Photos)

A home in a Rockville neighborhood that began as an African-American community after Maryland Emancipation is likely to be demolished, after a City of Rockville analysis found it does not qualify for historic designation. The current owner of the bungalow at 110 North Street is seeking an opinion on the matter from the Historic District Commission, to determine if the structure may be demolished or not. A staff report by City Preservation Planner Sheila Bashiri determined that the home in its current dilapidated condition does not meet the standards for designation. The applicant's filing with the city notes that the HDC approved demolition of a similar home next door nine years ago. A McMansion sits on that adjacent lot today, so there is no historic viewshed to preserve.

While the bungalow reflects the style and location of a home built and/or resided in by freed slaves or employed servants following the Civil War, no major figures in Rockville history resided at 110 North Street, and no significant historical events occurred there. The report stated that its "architecture, design or landscape is not significant within the city of Rockville." Bashiri recommended HDC commissioners find the property does not qualify for historic designation. The HDC will take up the matter at its Thursday, December 21, 2023 meeting.

Photos courtesy City of Rockville

Monday, December 18, 2023

Rockville Mayor & Council to be briefed on proposed Rockshire Village development tonight

Rockville's Mayor and Council will receive a briefing on the Rockshire Village development plan proposed by local developer EYA at their meeting tonight, December 18, 2023 at 7:00 PM. Approval of the plan would require amending the 1966 Rockshire development plan for this property, a former shopping center located at 2401 Wootton Parkway. 

The proposal under discussion is essentially the same as was first introduced this past spring. 31 single-family homes, 29 3-to-4 story townhomes, and a neighborhood park would be constructed on the property. The amount of commercial and office space proposed has been reduced from 5,500-square-feet to 5,200 SF (the original size proposed last spring was 5000 SF). EYA is also seeking a parking waiver related to the commercial/office portion of the project, as well as a road code waiver for a proposed private alley, which would not comply with a City requirement that any road constructed must either connect to an existing road or end in a cul-de-sac.

Following tonight's briefing, EYA will be asked to revise its plan to address existing concerns about the driveway access from Hurley Avenue, outdated traffic studies being used by EYA, trees, the relocation of a trail near the Korean Presbyterian Church, parking capacity, and pedestrian access to the retail structure from the Carl Henn Millenium Trail that were raised this fall by nearby residents and the Rockville Planning Commission. In addition, the plan revisions would address any new concerns expressed by the Mayor and Council at tonight's meeting.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Artist Maggie O'Neill opens pop-up gallery at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Local artist Maggie O'Neill has opened a pop-up art gallery in the former Wentworth Gallery space at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Featuring last minute gifts of prints, sculptures and Vote for Your Daughter-inspired art and merchandise, the temporary boutique will be open 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM today, Sunday, December 17, 2023, and next Friday and Saturday, December 22 and 23, from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. 

You can also score a free print signed by Maggie O'Neill if you spend $200 anywhere in the mall. Look for the pop-up on Level 2 of the mall, outside of Nordstrom.

Aggravated assault in Rockville office park

Rockville City police were called to an office park off of Gude Drive early Thursday afternoon, December 14, 2023, after an aggravated assault was reported there. The assault was reported on the street in the 1300 block of Piccard Drive at 12:23 PM Thursday. According to police, the altercation was a domestic incident among family members.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

WMATA puts Bethesda-Chevy Chase to Rockville T2 Metrobus route on chopping block

A major bus route connecting the Friendship Heights and Rockville Metro stations is among 67 Metrobus lines WMATA is proposing to eliminate under its "doomsday" budget. The T2 Metrobus travels along the River Road and Falls Road corridors, most of which lack proximity to Metro subway service. If you want to connect to Metrorail beyond the Westbard and West End areas of Bethesda and Rockville, respectively, the T2 can be either one of the few options or the only option to reach a Metro station. 

The T2 is also useful for reaching the judicial and government centers of Montgomery County in Rockville Town Center, as well as Amtrak and MARC service via the Rockville Metro station. WMATA's strategy is not novel, however. Governments and transit agencies often release doomsday budgets prior to asking taxpayers to shell out more to avoid the painful cuts proposed. 

Friday, December 15, 2023

Montgomery County's JBG Smith biggest winner in D.C.'s potential loss of Capitals, Wizards

The Montgomery County Council and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore may have been asleep at the switch during the tug-of-war over the future home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, but a company in their jurisdiction may pull off the biggest win in the teams' potential move to Virginia. Bethesda's JBG Smith is the landowner of the proposed Potomac Yard arena and mixed-use development sites in Alexandria. If the teams relocate as envisioned by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and team owner Ted Leonsis, the real estate development firm will stand to be ultimate victor from a business standpoint. Those potential big profits might still benefit the county and state revenue coffers in Maryland, even if the gaudy bragging rights to the actual teams will accrue to Virginia. 

Successful relocation of the teams to Potomac Yard, and the related development, dovetail perfectly with JBG Smith's existing plans and vision for the National Landing area. The firm will be able to sell the proposed sites to a Virginia sports development authority, and would be the developer of the corporate Monumental Sports Entertainment headquarters, arena, media studio, performing arts venue, and e-sports facility proposed as part of the overall plan. And the sports-related growth at Potomac Yards would boost the earning potential for JBG Smith's other National Landing properties, of which Amazon's HQ2 is the crown jewel.

Of course, HQ2's ultimate benefit to Northern Virginia remains to be seen, as Amazon has not been exempt from the work-from-home revolution and other stresses on its businesses. How many jobs and how many square feet of office space Amazon will eventually need at National Landing is up in the air at this point. How much Virginia taxpayers will shell out for a billionaire to move his sports teams is also not set in stone today. But the additional development opportunities the move would provide could not have come at a better time for JBG Smith.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is in the unenviable position of not only possibly losing two of the city's professional sports teams at once, but of having had to make a desperate bid of $500,000,000 at the 11th hour that doesn't appear to have persuaded Leonsis to stay. Such a two-team exit is a potential nightmare for Moore in Maryland, as he tries to keep the Washington Commanders and Baltimore Orioles in the state. His cringeworthy pitch to the Commanders in a VIP suite in "Raljon," as recounted by The Washington Post, did not reflect the bargaining prowess his Wall Street resume would lead us to believe he would have. Moore's inabililty to find immediate success in attracting major companies to Maryland over the past 11 months, despite a Rolodex filled with celebrity and Fortune 500 friends, has raised eyebrows among those closely watching Maryland's economic development efforts.

The fact that Moore was not in the conversation regarding the Wizards and Capitals, when the firm at the center of the intrigue is in his own state, is unlikely to reduce those whispered doubts in the business community. But the silver lining in this case is that JBG Smith - and Montgomery County and Maryland, if they actually get their share of the firm's increased revenue - will likely gain financially, even if Virginia ends up overpaying for the teams, as the company will still profit regardless. Virginia's elected officials could look like suckers a decade from now, but the real winner would still be at 4747 Bethesda Avenue.

New Chase Bank branch lights up in Rockville (Photos)

Signage has been installed and is now lit at the future Chase Bank branch at 460 Hungerford Drive, in the Rockville Town Center area. Inside, comfortable furniture can be seen through the large glass facade. Outside, a drive-thru ATM is nearing completion. Utilities are being hooked up to the new building, which replaces a shuttered Chinese supermarket, whose historic building was razed to make way for the bank.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Break-in at Rockville hotel

Rockville City police responded to a report of a burglary at a hotel Tuesday morning, December 12, 2023. The break-in was reported at 11:32 AM Tuesday at the Red Roof Inn at 16001 Shady Grove Road. Officers arriving at the scene found evidence of forced entry.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Police called after assault at Rockville restaurant

Rockville City police officers were summoned to a restaurant in the Fallsgrove Village Center late Sunday afternoon, December 10, 2023, after an individual reported having been the victim of an assault there. The assault was reported at 5:05 PM Sunday. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Rockville bank building to become Take 5, promising "Fastest Oil Change on the Planet"

A vacant bank building at 1470 Rockville Pike will be demolished, and an automobile fluid maintenance facility will be constructed in its place, if a developer's proposal for the site is approved by the City of Rockville. CPC Acquistions, LLC is proposing replace the bank with Take 5, an auto maintenance chain that promises the "Fastest Oil Change on the Planet." Oil changes are typically completed in 10 minutes, the company boasts.

Take 5's business model allows drivers to stay in their car while their oil is changed, and air filters, fluids and wipers are checked and replaced as needed. Take 5 is open early and late seven days a week, and no appointment is required. 

At this location, a 10'-wide shared use path will be constructed along the Pike-facing side of the property in place of the existing sidewalk. An attorney representing the owner of the shopping center next door has expressed concern that vehicles waiting to enter the Take 5 service bays will back up onto the Pike in front of the that property. He also wants more information from CPC about their plans to alter the existing curb cuts that would affect his client's property - including making it difficult for 18-wheelers to enter to make deliveries to restaurants, and how they intend to keep dust from demolition and construction from blowing over to the restaurants in the shopping center. 

Proposed site plan for Take 5

This would be the first Take 5 location in Montgomery County. The fast-growing chain has an existing shop in Bel Air, Maryland. If approved, Take 5 would be another example of the success of the current Rockville Pike plan in maintaining the retail and service uses on the Pike that make it the biggest generator of commercial tax revenue in the entire state.