Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bus driver assaulted by passenger in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of an assault on a bus driver on the morning of February 23, 2024. According to police, a bus was stopped at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Wootton Parkway around 10:00 AM, when a passenger "became enraged." The passenger spat on the bus driver, and then repeatedly attempted to punch the driver. No description of the suspect was given by police.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Monumental Sports Network to broadcast Old Glory DC pro rugby matches for 2024 season

Monumental Sports Network
has reached an agreement to broadcast 13 of Old Glory DC's Major League Rugby matches during the 2024 season. Old Glory DC plays its home games here in Montgomery County, at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown. The season and broadcast schedule will begin with Old Glory DC's road opener against the New Orleans NOLA Gold this coming Saturday, March 2 at 4:00 PM EST. The games streamed by Monumental Sports Network can be watched through your Pay TV subscription on cable TV, on, or by downloading the Monumental streaming app on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, and using an "eligible TV Everywhere log-in."

"Monumental Sports Network is the ideal partner to carry Old Glory and bring all the action, intensity and elegance of professional rugby to the entire Greater Washington Region," Old Glory DC Chairman Chris Dunlavey said in a statement Wednesday. "Rugby is the greatest team sport in the world, and Monumental is bringing it to your living room."

“We are thrilled to welcome Old Glory to the Monumental Sports Network family,” Monumental Sports Network VP of Content & Programming Caitlin Mangum said. “We are happy to bolster our live programming lineup and offer D.C.-area sports fans the chance to enjoy this exciting and quickly growing sport.”

The schedule for Old Glory DC matches on Monumental Sports Network will be as follows:

Saturday, March 2 at NOLA Gold at 4pm

Saturday, March 9 at New England Free Jacks at 2pm

Saturday, March 16 vs. Chicago Hounds at 4pm

Saturday, March 23 vs. San Diego Legion at 4pm

Saturday, March 30 at Charlotte Rugby at 6pm

Saturday, April 6 vs. RFC Los Angeles at 5pm

Saturday, April 20 vs. Houston Sabercats at 5pm

Saturday, May 11 at Chicago Hounds at 6pm

Friday, May 24 at Seattle Seawolves at 10:30pm

Saturday, June 1 vs. Charlotte Rugby at 7pm

Saturday, June 8 vs. New England Free Jacks at 7pm

Saturday, June 22 at Miami Sharks at 7:30pm

Saturday, June 29 vs. NOLA Gold at 7pm

Aldi construction begins at Walnut Hill Shopping Center in Gaithersburg

Excitement is in the air at the venerable Walnut Hill Shopping Center at 16529 S. Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg. Contractor HBW Construction of Rockville has begun work converting the former Weis Markets space for new anchor tenant Aldi. Renovations to update the shopping center's appearance are also underway at the property, as you can see below. 

Continue to patronize your favorite businesses at the center, as despite the tarps and scaffolding, all tenants remain open during the renovations. A second Gaithersburg location of Sheetz will add to the buzz at the shopping center in the future. The City of Gaithersburg recently approved the annexation of Walnut Hill into the city, in large part to secure the agreement with Sheetz. That Sheetz deal became a critical linchpin in Walnut Hill's plan to revitalize the property. Walnut Hill's ownership said the revenue from the Sheetz would finance the renovations to the center, property upgrades that Aldi had required as a condition of its lease. Sheetz opened its first Gaithersburg store last year, and shortly thereafter declared it was "highly-impressed with the performance" of the location.

Tatte Bakery & Cafe opening in Rockville

Tatte Bakery & Cafe
will open a Rockville location later this year at 12232 Rockville Pike, at Towne Plaza. This will be the Boston-based chain's third location in Montgomery County, following its opening at The Wilson in downtown Bethesda in 2021, and its recent lease-signing at the new Westbard Square development in southwest Bethesda. 

Give Towne Plaza credit for always trying to stay relevant in the local dining conversation. Over the years it has hosted the great Houston's, Five Guys and Chef Geoff's; tried to keep Boston Market in the area before the chain backed out; and briefly counted the unique Vietnamese cafe Bambu Che as a tenant. Tatte Bakery has been a coveted tenant in recent years, so this is quite a score for Towne Plaza. When it opens, look for Tatte next to Comfort One Shoes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Menu screens activated inside Wawa opening soon in Gaithersburg

The opening of the first Wawa in Montgomery County is that much closer today, with the activation of the animated flatscreen menu boards inside the convenience store at 405 S. Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg. Through the windows, the screens could be seen cycling through menu items and promotional messages. 

Outside the building, fresh asphalt has been laid down on part of the parking lot area, and striping has been painted for parking spaces and crosswalks. Gas pumps have been in place since last November, and remain taped off for now. Wawa continues to show no dates for this, or any other new Wawa store, on the "Store Grand Openings" page on its website as of this writing.

Assault at Wootton High School in Rockville

Montgomery County police were called to the campus of Thomas S. Wootton High School at 2100 Wootton Parkway in Rockville this past Saturday morning, February 24, 2024, after someone reported being assaulted there. The assault was reported on an athletic field at the school at 9:10 AM Saturday.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Police called after assault at Rockville sporting goods store

Rockville City police responded to a report of unsportsmanlike conduct at a sporting goods store Friday morning, February 23, 2024. A 2nd-degree assault was reported at a store in the 1600 block of Rockville Pike at 10:51 AM. Dick's Warehouse Sale is located on that block. At least one person was also accused of shoplifting in the incident.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Drug bust at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

A shoplifting call turned more serious after Montgomery County police officers responded to an incident at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda Friday afternoon, February 23, 2024. At least one individual was accused of also possessing a synthetic narcotic, and drug paraphernalia. The shoplifting incident was reported at the mall at 4:27 PM Friday.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Old Glory DC pro rugby team to host open training session for fans today in Germantown

Professional rugby arrives at the Maryland Soccerplex at 18031 Central Park Drive in Germantown today, February 24, 2024. Old Glory DC, a Major League Rugby team, will host an open training session from 1:00 to 3:00 PM this afternoon. In addition to a preview of the team in action, fans can meet the coaches and players after the session ends. Team ambassadors will provide "Rugby 101" explanations and provide real-time match analysis, and food and beverages (including adult beverages) will be available for sale from vendors on-site. Admission to the event is free.

Old Glory DC's new head coach is Simon Cross. This season's roster features stars from 11 countries around the world, including Team Captain Jamason Faanana-Schultz (AUS), DC native Jack Iscaro (USA) Rob Harley (GBR) of the Glasgow Warriors, Damien Hoyland (GBR) of the Edinburgh Rugby Club, Axel Muller (ARG), and Perry Humphreys (GBR). 

The team's season will begin March 2, 2024 with a road game against the New Orleans NOLA Gold. Old Glory DC's home opener at the Soccerplex will be on March 16, when the club hosts the Chicago Hounds. Single match and season tickets can be purchased during today's event, or online.

Second assault in 48 hours at Rockville Metro station

Rockville City police were called to the Rockville Metro station for the second time in 48 hours yesterday, February 23, 2024, after an individual reported having been assaulted there. The incident was reported at 10:00 AM Friday. The first assault, which involved a firearm, was reported at the station at 8:15 PM Wednesday night.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Aggravated assault with gun at Rockville Metro station

Rockville City police responded to a report of an aggravated assault involving a firearm at the Rockville Metro station Wednesday night, February 21, 2024. The assault was reported at the station at 8:15 PM Wednesday. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville wins 1st Amendment Press Freedom Award

For the fourth time, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville is one of the recipients of the annual 1st Amendment Press Freedom Award. The award "recognizes private and public high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content." Winners are determined by a committee made up of representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association, and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society. Twenty-eight schools received the award this year, the most recipients ever. But Charles E. Smith is the only school in Montgomery County and the State of Maryland to win.

Dini's Divine Pies to open in Rockville in March 2024

Dini's Divine Pies
will open in a dedicated, bricks-and-mortar space next month in Rockville. The pie shop will open Saturday, March 9, 2024, and will initially be open on Saturdays in March from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. It will be located at 11612 Boiling Brook Place, in the Randolph Hills Shopping Center. All of the handmade pies are baked with fresh, organic, local fruit when possible, and organic flour is used for the all-butter pie crusts. 

Photo courtesy Dini's Divine Pies

Bethesda Black cemetery advocates to protest at Jamie Raskin campaign event tonight

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition will hold a protest rally outside of a campaign event for Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin (D) tonight, February 22, 2024, at 7:00 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Advocates for the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda have been seeking Raskin's help in getting federal action on the historic gravesite, which is hidden under parking lots behind the Westwood Tower apartments. BACC President Marsha Coleman-Adebayo says that the cemetery is in Raskin's district, but that he "refuses to condemn the desecration and flooding" of the burial ground.

Those interesting in participating in tonight's protest are asked to meet up at Ben and Jerry's at 903 Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring (across from the Civic Building) at 6:00 PM tonight. But if you can't get there that early, just head to the Civic Building at 7:00.

Wawa Burtonsville plan advances to Montgomery County Planning Board as Gaithersburg awaits opening

The first Wawa in Montgomery County hasn't even opened yet, and the company is already moving forward on a second. A proposal to open a Wawa convenience store and mega gas station at 15585-15595 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville will be reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Boad at its February 29, 2024 meeting. Montgomery County planners are recommending approval of the project, with conditions. Wawa will need to obtain a special exception from Montgomery County to accommodate the project's size, and comply with conditions of a forest conservation plan, before it can pull permits to construct the store. 

The site is currently home to a 7-Eleven, a gas station, and a Mattress Barn store. All would be demolished to make way for the Wawa.

The property owners have proposed construction of a new signalized intersection to facilitate safer ingress and egress from the Wawa onto Old Columbia Pike. They have also agreed to construct a 10'-wide "sidepath" along Old Columbia Pike, and a 16'-wide "bike breezeway" (first time I've heard this term in Montgomery County planning) along the ramp to Route 29. A new trash enclosure would be constructed, and up to nine electric vehicle charging spaces would be provided at the Wawa.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Rockville police to deploy new speed camera on February 26

Rockville City police will add another speed camera location "on or about" February 26, 2024. The camera will be placed in the 2500 block of Wootton Parkway, near the intersection with Fairwood Court. It will monitor southbound traffic, and issue $40 tickets to drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by 12 MPH or more. After an initial grace period, the camera will begin issuing fines on March 26, 2024.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Suspects sought in assault and theft at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police are looking for three suspects in a February 5, 2024 assault and shoplifting incident at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The three entered Zara and grabbed merchandise, police say. On their way out of the fashion boutique at 12:22 PM, they allegedly assaulted a store employee. This is the second assault reported at the mall this year.

Police describe the suspects as a Black male around 40 years of age, a Black male aged 20-25, and a Black female aged 20-25. If you can identify any of the suspects, or have any information related to this incident, you are asked to call police at the anonymous Crime Solvers tipline at 1-866-411-8477, or the non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Conversion of vacant Rockville office building to housing proposed

Uniwest Management Inc. is seeking to convert a vacant Rockville office building into residential housing. The company has proposed adding three additional floors to the building at 12501 Ardennes Avenue in Twinbrook, for a total of 115' in height. There would be up to 190 residential units in the modified building, as well as existing garage parking that exceeds the City's minimum space number requirement, and the addition of new landscaping and design elements to reflect the residential use. 15% of the residential units would be set aside as Moderately-Priced-Dwelling-Units.

The building was only constructed in 2009, and has a nice curved facade. Unfortunately, the General Services Administration decided not to renew its lease at the property, and it now stands vacant as a result. Uniwest says it has attempted to find new tenants, but has concluded that "there simply is not an office market in this location." It notes that suburban Maryland has the highest office vacancy rate in the region, according to a JLL study. 

Montgomery County has not attracted a single major corporate headquarters in a quarter century. A Planning Commission meeting will be scheduled to review the Revised Site Plan that Uniwest has submitted to the City. 

 Photos courtesy Uniwest

Monday, February 19, 2024

An explosion of new restaurants at struggling Rockville shopping center

A struggling shopping center in Rockville is about to get a shot in the arm from several new restaurant tenants. Two chains and one independent brand have signed leases at The Shops at Congressional Village at 1701 Rockville Pike. Kajiken will serve up steaming bowls of abura soba, combining thick noodles and sauces imported directly from Japan with customizable toppings. At west coast chain Kanpai's Rockville location, you will have 100 minutes to eat all the Japanese BBQ and shabu soup you can handle. And for those who prefer a side of novelty with their sushi rolls, Uzu Revolving Sushi will provide a constant stream of mechanically-delivered delights. All three restaurants have "coming soon" signage in their future storefronts, and will only add to Rockville's emerging status as the top destination for Asian dining in the DMV.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Rockville shopping center deploys parking lot surveillance camera robot

There's a new set of eyes on the parking lot at Wintergreen Plaza in Rockville. They belong to a surveillance camera robot that is increasingly seen in the lots outside of big box retail and drug stores nationwide. These mobile, solar-powered devices can be configured with a variety of options, including motion sensors, thermal sensors, license plate-capturing cameras, and even the ability for a contractor thousands of miles away to audibly hector trespassers or suspected criminals. The cameras can deter criminals, as well as assist police in solving crimes faster, including the rampant retail thefts now plaguing Montgomery County.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Police called after assault at Rockville store

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a retail store on Rockville Pike Wednesday afternoon, February 14, 2024. The assault was reported at a store in the 700 block of Rockville Pike at 1:15 PM Wednesday.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Assault at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police were called to Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda late Sunday afternoon, February 11, 2024, after someone reported being the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. At least one individual was accused of shoplifting in the same incident. The assault was reported at 5:21 PM Sunday. Violent crime has been dropping at the mall over the last year. 12 assaults were reported at the popular retail center in 2022, 5 were reported in 2023, and Sunday's is the first reported in 2024.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Police target airbag thief who targets Honda Civics in Rockville

An airbag thief struck the Twinbrook Forest neighborhood in Rockville over several recent days, and focused primarily on Honda Civics. Windows of at least four Honda Civics, along with one Acura, were smashed. The thief was successful in getting away with four of the five airbags they attempted to steal. In the fifth case, Rockville City police say, a resident saw a suspect breaking the window of a Civic in the 2300 block of Ring Street at 8:12 PM on February 10, 2024. The thief apparently noticed the resident, and fled the scene before being able to remove the vehicle's airbag.

Police describe the suspect in that case as a male of unknown race, 5'6" in height, and wearing a black beanie. If you live in Twinbrook Forest, especially near the streets in question, perhaps you have doorbell or security camera footage of the beanie-wearing suspect you can forward to police. The thefts occurred on the following streets: 1600 block of Gruenther Avenue between 9:00 PM on February 6 and 6:30 AM on February 7; 300 block of Gruenther Avenue between 4:00 AM and 6:45 AM on February 7 (you could assume that the first incident may have taken place within, or close to, the same time window as the second); 1600 block of Forbes Street between 7:00 AM and 8:30 PM on February 10; and the failed attempt noted above in the 2300 block of Ring Street at 8:12 PM on February 10.

If you have information or video footage related to these thefts, you are asked to call police at 240-314-8900. Honda Civics are a popular target for airbag thieves, but not the only target. Experts recommend installing "The Club" or another anti-theft device on your steering wheel to discourage thieves, as well as installing or activating a car alarm, and parking in a well-lit area if possible.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

7-Eleven cleared out at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos)

closed in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda at the end of last month, as I reported January 30. Inventory was mostly cleaned off of shelves by February 7, but a lot of equipment and displays remained inside the darkened space. Now it has been cleared out and sealed off, in addition to the retractable metal barrier that could still be seen through last week. It's unclear why this location closed, as many have noted it was well-patronized during its short run at the mall, but the convenience store chain did close 184 stores nationwide last year.

February 7, 2024

February 7

February 7

Now sealed off