Showing posts with label Rockville business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockville business. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Hertz rent-a-car opens new Rockville location

rent-a-car has opened a new Rockville location. It is "just up the Pike" from their existing office, at 1052 Rockville Pike, in the Edmonston Crossing shopping center. Operating hours at the new location are 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. Wow, those are limited hours - - you'll have to run like O.J. Simpson to get there before closing time.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Rockville Mayor & Council to be briefed on plan to replace church with townhomes

Rockville's Mayor and Council will receive a briefing on a proposal to demolish a church in the Twinbrook area of the city, and replace it with a new townhome development, at their meeting tonight, February 12, 2024 at 7:00 PM. Developer Pulte has proposed redeveloping the church property at 5906 Halpine Road with 36 "two-over-two" townhomes. No decision will be made tonight; the briefing is for information purposes only, and to allow the Mayor and Council to comment or provide feedback and suggestions to Pulte.  

At a future date to be determined, the Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing to allow residents and other stakeholders to comment. Then they would schedule a future vote on a resolution for rezoning the property, approving the Project Plan, and authorizing the necessary waivers for a side yard setback and layback slope for the project. 

Nearby residents have raised concerns about overflow parking, and the potential reduction of the setback required. The grade of the church property has also led to worries about drainage impacts from the future townhome site. Some residents of the adjacent townhome community are concerned that the contemporary design of the new townhomes could cast shadows onto their shorter homes. Many who have contacted City staff have also advocated for leaving the trees on the church property in place. Pulte's current plan would do that, and also plant additional trees as part of the new development's landscaping.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Rockville Lunar New Year celebration set for February 17, 2024

Save the date for the City of Rockville's annual Lunar New Year celebration this coming Saturday, February 17, 2024 from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM, at Rockville High School at 2100 Baltimore Road. Celebrate the good luck of the Year of the Dragon with live cultural performances, interactive displays, craft activities for kids, and to-go snack boxes (while supplies last). Admission is free. The event is co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Task Force.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Cutculture Barbershop moves to Ritchie Center in Rockville

Cutculture Barbershop
is relocating in Rockville. It is moving from its previous location at 620 Hungerford Drive to the Ritchie Center. The shop's new address is 765-L Rockville Pike. Cutculture has built a loyal following over the last year, with high scores from clients on Yelp (4.5 stars out of 5) and Google (4.8 stars). 

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Contents of Rockville restaurant to be auctioned off

, a fast-casual restaurant at 9613 Medical Center Drive in Rockville, is closing, according to an online auction listing. The contents of the restaurant will be auctioned off beginning February 21, 2024. Among the items available is a still-in-sealed-package soup warmer. 

The Freshii chain was acquired by Canadian firm Foodtastic in 2022. Freshii was already based in Canada, where the majority of its restaurants are located. It hasn't fared as well in the United States, where many locations have shuttered since 2017. QSR Magazine has a good analysis of the financial pressures Freshii franchisees in the U.S. have been struggling under.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

MD Retailers Association revives effort to allow beer, wine sales in Maryland grocery stores

MRA poster inside Harris Teeter

One of the biggest shocks to the system many new residents of Montgomery County experience, is the moment they learn they cannot purchase beer or wine at their local grocery store or convenience store. They quickly become familiar with Montgomery County's government monopoly on alcohol sales, and the archaic liquor laws of MoCo and Maryland. Restaurateurs and retailers frustrated with the status quo that reduces the profit margins of their businesses - and puts them at a disadvantage when competing against their rivals in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia - made a push to change these laws in the last decade. The effort ran out of steam when no significant media campaign or financial contributions were employed to directly boost the candidates for office who would vote to overturn the Prohibition-style system.

Now the Maryland Retailers Association is reviving the campaign with a new website, and posters such as the one seen above this week in County supermarkets. There is a lot of information and data on the website. It has an easy way to contact your elected officials to encourage them to modernize our liquor laws. Whether the effort will be any more successful than the last remains to be seen.

If the MRA and business owners don't write fat checks to the candidates who will vote to change the laws, and won't publicly endorse those candidates and send glossy mailers with a list of their names to every voter, the campaign will fail again. Most of the articles linked to on the website are from media outlets who strongly support the incumbents and candidates who favor and will preserve the ossified government liquor monopoly we have now. That's not exactly a smart way to propagandize the public in favor of liquor reform, folks.

Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich was prophetic about many things. He was savagely pilloried by local officials and the media during his time in office for supporting casinos and bus rapid transit. Both later became policy cornerstones of the Montgomery County and Maryland political machines of his most-venomous opponents. One other thing he used to say that has aged very well: Until business owners "get dangerous," and actually back candidates - Democratic, Republican, Green, independent - who will vote their way, nothing will change. The MRA has a nice website. But their campaign doesn't sound very "dangerous" yet.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Popeyes, The Children's Place officially closed at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos)

It's official: Popeyes has permanently closed in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. So has The Children's Place, an apparel store for kids. Both spaces have been cleared out, and signage removed. Chicken-loving mall walkers will have to turn to Chick-fil-A, McDonald's or (soon) Pollo Campero in the food court.

The Children's Place

Another attempt to restore Office of the People's Counsel in Montgomery County

Montgomery County's government bodies - Board of Education, Montgomery Parks, the Montgomery County Planning Board, to name three recent examples - are in disarray, and have been embroiled in scandals. Incredibly, while holding oversight power, the County Council has actively chosen to not restore funding for a position that can help hold the County's planning authorities (including the Council itself) more accountable to residents and taxpayers: The Office of the People's Counsel. Never a popular position among the developers who have funded most or all of the councilmembers' campaigns this century, depending upon which Council term is under discussion, the OPC was axed in 2010 when the Council finally had an excuse to do so: a budget crisis of their own making. But in 2023, more than a decade after the "Great Recession" ended, the current Council still voted against restoring funding for the OPC.

Fed-up residents and responsible growth advocates are launching a new attempt to persuade councilmembers - some of whom vowed to fund the OPC, but then betrayed the voters and organizations they made the vow to, once in office - to restore the OPC in the FY-2025 budget. The Montgomery Countryside Alliance, which works to protect rural areas, open space and streams from impacts of overdevelopment, is taking a leadership role by creating an easy form to send a brief message to the County Council in support of funding for the OPC.

For those not familiar, the OPC is (or was!) a land-use attorney who provides free advice and technical information to residents regarding development and land-use issues. Residents, most of whom cannot afford the kind of powerhouse legal representation that developers and the County itself have at their disposal, can therefore be better prepared to defend their interests before the Planning Board, County Council and hearing examiners. The OPC can also point out when the Board or Council is in violation of the rules or breaking the law, which non-land-use-attorney citizens may not be able to recognize their own. Perhaps most importantly, the People's Counsel can represent residents' interests in administrative hearings.

Boosting hopes for the return of this critical County government position is Bill PG/MC 112-24 at the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis, which is sponsored by Senator Ben Kramer of Montgomery County. Senator Kramer has also been a leading voice to make the planning process in the County more directly accountable to residents, such as considering proposals to move some aspects of planning under the executive branch of County government. Kramer's bill would fully fund the Office of the People's Counsel in Montgomery County, just as other jurisdictions like Prince George's County have. In other words, Kramer is saying to the Council, "if you won't do it, we will." But, if you don't use this form to send a message to the Council and the full Montgomery County delegation to Annapolis in favor of funding the OPC, they might not!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Stanford Grill in Rockville to rebrand as Glenwood's

Stanford Grill
, the restaurant that opened in 2015 at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard in Rockville, is getting a new name. Parent company Blueridge Restaurant Group announced today that it will rebrand all of its Stanford Grill locations as "Glenwood's" in the coming months. The company said the rebranding is part of major expansion plans that will include a goal of opening 13 new restaurants in nearby states over the next few years, as well as a major investment in the existing Maryland restaurants it operates. 

"Since the opening of Stanford Grill, our focus has been on offering the local community an upscale yet approachable dining experience that prioritizes attention to the smallest details," Blueridge Managing Member David Jones said in a statement today. "Our approach has been less about us and more about understanding our guests’ desires. Consistently providing delicious cuisine, refined service, and a beautiful setting has been and will continue to be our priority." 

“While the announcement of this new name brings excitement for our Company’s future, we will stay true to the principles that have established us as one of the most popular dining destinations in our area. These principles are what made us who we are, and we will remain committed to them, regardless of our name.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

7-Eleven reportedly to close at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

A source tells me that the 7-Eleven at Westfield Montgomery Mall is closing. They report that the lottery machine had already been removed from the store Monday. An employee told them the convenience store would close tomorrow, Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Employees will reportedly be offered jobs at other local 7-Eleven stores. 7-Eleven opened at the mall in July 2020, after a 19-month construction process

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Police investigate assault at Rockville hotel

Rockville City police were called to the Red Roof Inn at 16001 Shady Grove Road Wednesday night, January 24, 2024, after a 2nd-degree assault was reported there. The assault was reported at the hotel at 11:41 PM Wednesday. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Man denied entry by Rockville store smashes window

A man who was denied entry to a store on Rockville Pike allegedly smashed a front window at the business, Rockville City police say. The suspect punched the window of a store in the 1700 block of Rockville Pike at 1:35 AM on January 21, 2024. Police did not say why the man was denied entry. 

The suspect is described by police as a Black male, 32 to 33 years of age, with a medium build, and 5 feet, 10 inches in height. If you have any information about this suspect or this incident, you are asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Best Buy shelves growing bare as promised 2024 phaseout of physical media begins (Photos)

The DVD and Blu-Ray shelves are growing spare, if not quite bare, at Best Buy stores nationwide. The big box electronics chain announced last fall that it would phase out such physical media in 2024, and it's one New Year's resolution that's being kept. While 4K, Blu-Ray and DVD movies are still being manufactured, Best Buy won't be stocking them as they're released anymore. You can see the policy change beginning to take effect at this Best Buy store at 10901 Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. 

It's been a long time since I've bought a physical copy of a movie. For me, it wasn't so much the convenience of digital or streaming films, but the fact that fewer and fewer releases came with deluxe packaging and collectible items inside. When all you get is an expensive steelbook case and the disc(s) inside, there's little incentive to buy the physical product anymore. And behind-the-scenes features on many discs seem to get illegally uploaded to YouTube eventually, where they can be viewed for free.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Twinbrook Quarter developer seeks ROW agreement with Rockville for Wegmans, wayfaring signage

B.F. Saul, the developer of the future Wegmans-anchored Twinbrook Quarter development, is seeking an agreement and air-rights easement for wayfinding signage at the mixed-use property from the City of Rockville. The signage, which would present the name of the development and its retail tenants, would be placed within the public right-of-way along Rockville Pike, Halpine Road and Chapman Avenue. Other signs would be attached to the buildings above ground level, hence requiring an air rights easement to protrude into the public space above the sidewalk. 

Proposed Rockville Pike signage locations

The space in question belongs to the City of Rockville, but could later be ceded to the Maryland State Highway Administration if a FLASH bus rapid transit station is constructed at Twinbrook Quarter. Route 355 itself is currently a MDSHA right-of-way. The land directly adjacent to it on the east side of the Pike presumably was turned over to the City of Rockville when a city-controlled parallel service road was proposed. Only a portion of the service road has been constructed so far.

Halpine Road sign locations

The 99-year agreement proposed would be revocable at any time on 30-days' notice by the City. Twinbrook Quarter would assume all maintenance, insurance and liability requirements for the portions of the right-of-way and air rights in question. The Mayor and Council will review and discuss the proposed agreement and easement at their meeting tonight, January 22, 2024 at 7:00 PM. City staff recommends that the Mayor and Council approve and authorize the Acting City Manager to execute a Revocable License and Maintenance Agreement and an Air Rights Easement for Private Amenities in the public right-of-way with Twinbrook Quarter, LLC.

Chapman Avenue sign locations

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Police respond to assaults at 2 different Rockville office buildings

Rockville City police officers responded to 2nd-degree assaults reported at two different office buildings yesterday, January 16, 2024. Police were first called to a building in the unit block of Preserve Parkway at 10:00 AM Tuesday. A second assault was reported about three-and-a-half hours later, at an office building in the 15200 block of Shady Grove Road at 1:27 PM.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Teazzi Tea Shop to open first DMV-area location in Bethesda

Teazzi Tea Shop
, a Taiwanese tea chain, will open its first store in the Washington, D.C. region right here in Montgomery County, in downtown Bethesda. It will be at 4941 Elm Street, in the Shoppes of Bethesda. Teazzi currently has 4 New York City-area shops, as well as locations in Boston, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Sunnyvale (California), and Las Vegas. The company has franchisees gearing up to open in Seattle and San Gabriel (California), and in a second Boston location. 

Tea selections at Teazzi include Four Seasons Oolong, Golden Oolong, Amber Oolong, Deep Roast Oolong, Dark Roast Black Tea, and Jasmine Green Tea. Menu options include milk tea, fruit tea, floam, tea lattes, and Teazzi's signature (but optional) topping of oats. Construction on the Bethesda shop will commence in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy Teazzi Tea Shop

Friday, January 12, 2024

Parte Haus opening at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Parte Haus
will be opening any day now at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The "ultimate party hub," Parte Haus offers an extensive inventory of party and balloon supplies. A logo sign has already been installed above their storefront. Look for Parte Haus on Level 1 of the mall next to Relax Station.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Eko House to close in Rockville

Eko House
, the African restaurant and lounge at 150 Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square, will cease operations "effective Sunday, January 14th, 2024." The business is citing "misalignment with our landlord" as the reason for closing. Owners Yomi Ajao and Francis Odiase say they are actively seeking a new location for Eko House, and hope to reopen soon in that new space. Eko House opened two years ago at the struggling Rockville Town Square, which has a number of vacant storefronts.