Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Two new commercial tenants for Alexander House in Silver Spring

Two new commercial tenants are coming soon to the Alexander House apartments, at 8560 2nd Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Montgomery Community Media has leased a 2475 SF space, and the U.S. Chess Center is taking over a 396 SF suite. Alexander House is part of the redeveloping Elizabeth Square project.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Two new restaurants coming to Wheaton Plaza

Two more dining choices are heading to Wheaton Plaza. Westfield is bringing in KPS Kustom Pizza & Subs, and Famous Rotisserie and Grill. The former appears to be the first restaurant of a new pizza and sub franchise, while there is a Famous Rotisserie and Grill in Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, New York.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Large clock installed at Core apartment building in Silver Spring (Photos)

A large analog clock has been added as a finishing design touch to the Core apartments, under construction at 8621 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. You might notice that the neighboring Lee Building also sports a nifty analog clock, among its art deco flourishes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lina's Diner and Bar opens in downtown Silver Spring

Lina's Diner and Bar is now open at 8402 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. The French bistro concept is in the old Piratz Tavern space. Alas, I can still find no social media accounts for the restaurant, and their website is still dormant as of press time. Maybe this is just a soft opening?

Silver Spring construction update: Core (Photos)

The leasing center is open on-site for the future Core apartments at 8621 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. It may look like a construction site (which it still very much is), but look carefully for the signs near the trailer. 

You'll notice those "spikes" that protrude from the roof of a building under construction have been removed since my last update.

Core will contain 292 apartments, and about 1500 SF of retail space. The Foulger-Pratt/Willco project is scheduled to deliver this summer. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Wheaton Library and Recreation Center construction behind schedule

Demolition of the Wheaton Library is now complete, and the construction process is now underway for the new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center. However, the latest word is that the project is behind schedule.

Initially, delivery was expected by Summer 2018. The project website has more recently said Spring 2019, which would be 24 months from now. However, this week, Montgomery County Department of General Services Deputy Director Greg Ossont reported that "we're about 30 months out." That would be near the end of 2019, a full 18 months later than the original target date.

I did find what appears to be a new rendering of the rear of the building (or at least, it's new to me), on the project website, and it looks pretty impressive. This is where the circular driveway will be for drop-offs and book returns.

Rendering courtesy Montgomery County

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Silver Spring hotel developer seeks 4' of additional height

The Renaissance Inn extended-stay hotel planned for 8600 Georgia Avenue may get an extended height. Under the current zoning code, the starting point for measuring building height is in the center of the property. Developer Starr Georgia, LLC will ask the Montgomery County Planning Board for permission to count from the corner of the lot, which planners estimate will give them another 4' in height.

Getting permission to do so should not be a problem for this project, Area 1 Regulatory Supervisor Elza Hisel-McCoy told the applicant Tuesday. "You're at the intersection of Main and Main in downtown Silver Spring, and you need 4 feet," he explained. The site is at the crossroads of Georgia and Colesville Road, two of the heaviest-traveled commuter routes in the state of Maryland. It is currently home to a gas station.

The Board isn't likely to take up the matter until September, and the applicant may need to request an extension for the review before then.

Rendering via Montgomery County Planning Department

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wheaton redevelopment groundbreaking date set

There's now an official date for the Wheaton redevelopment groundbreaking. It will take place on Sunday, June 4, at Lot 13 in the Wheaton Triangle. The event has been scheduled as part of Taste of Wheaton. Part of Lot 13 will then close as soon as the next day, as construction begins on the new Montgomery County government office building. A Bozzuto apartment building will be constructed separately on the other part of Lot 13.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Another MCPS security employee charged with having sex with student

Montgomery County police have arrested and charged a Montgomery County Public Schools employee for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old student at Col. Brooke E. Lee Middle School in Silver Spring, where he was a "security employee." Mike Anthony Lievano, 21, of University Boulevard in Silver Spring, has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor, a third-degree sex offense, and fourth-degree sex offense.

Police say Lievano turned himself in late last night, and was transported to the Central Processing Unit. He is being held on a $10,000 bond.

Lievano is the second MCPS security employee in a month to be charged with having sex with a minor girl at the school he was assigned to. In the first case, at Richard Montgomery High School, it was revealed that MCPS had failed to do a background check on that employee, who had faced charges in a strip club gun incident easily found through a Google search.

Detectives say Lievano and the girl at Lee MS started "dating" on March 29, after an exchange of text messages. They did not say how the suspect obtained the girl's cell phone number. "Inappropriate sexual contact" took place between the two at his home, and her home.

Police ask anyone who believes that his/her child may have been victimized by Lievano in a similar way to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.

Sneak peek: BiBiBop Asian Grill in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

BiBiBop Asian Grill looks close to finished inside at 935 Ellsworth Drive, in downtown Silver Spring. It looks like they are moving the furniture in. Based in the great city of Columbus, Ohio, the restaurant replaces the departed ShopHouse.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wheaton Triangle's Lot 13 to partially close "on or about" June 5

Montgomery County Public Parking Lot 13 will partially close on or about June 5, 2017, according to the County. This is for construction of a new County office building on half of the parking lot. About 34 parking spaces will remain open for use for the time being. Eventually, a Bozzuto apartment building will be constructed on the remaining portion of the lot.

This fits with the groundbreaking date I've heard reported previously, June 4. After all these years, it sounds like Wheaton redevelopment is imminent, folks.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Silver Spring construction update: Studio Plaza (Photos)

Two tower cranes have been erected at the Studio Plaza construction site, which will eventually be addressed as 916 Thayer Avenue. Studio Plaza may get a new name, as well, as developer Fairfield Residential's website says the final name of the development is "pending." The site lists Summer 2018 as the opening date, although a sidewalk closure permit on-site says the sidewalk won't reopen until May 2019.

Whatever it's ultimately called, Studio Plaza will hold 415 residential units, 15% of which will be affordable. It will also boast 10,500 SF of retail, and 35100 SF of public space, including a green plaza, a through-block walk and public art displays. The building design is by WDG Architects.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Montgomery County Council: Building a better $640 toilet seat...for $22000

Non-profits continue to be one of the biggest sinkholes in the Montgomery County budget, and as a source of political patronage, a hotbed of scandal for elected officials. A bloated Health and Human Services Budget remains just as "taxing" - pun intended. As I've previously mentioned, some non-profit employees who receive salaries and raises from the County Council turn around and write campaign checks to the councilmembers who voted for those outlays of taxpayer funds. Even as that scandal goes uninvestigated, your tax dollars are being wasted in outrageous grants to programs and non-profits that often defy common sense.

From the County that brought you the $900,000-over-budget sewer pipe in Glen Echo Heights, comes their next attempt to emulate the Pentagon's infamous $640 toilet seat. Yesterday, the County Council approved a barrage of budget line-items for County services and non-profits alike for FY-2018. Some were well-justified, and others a complete waste. Among the wasteful items was $22,000 for the purchase of a 4-camera security camera system for the County's new Supervised Visitation Center.

$22,000 for 4 security cameras in the year 2017? That price would certainly have gotten my attention if I were on the Council. If you consider that any County building would already have WiFi, you're talking about the four cameras, and video storage. According to Popular Mechanics, security cameras range in price from $100 to $950., a website that estimates project costs, states that Network-Attached-Storage devices range from $168 for 1 TB of storage, to $499 for 4 TB. Installation labor costs are estimated by to be $680 for four cameras. In other words, this whole system could be purchased and installed for under $1000, but the Council is picking your pocket for $22,000.

Interestingly, the $22,000 camera figure was not broken out in the Council staff report, but lumped with other costs in a $34,500 line item. The camera cost was mentioned by a staff member testifying before the Council yesterday. Not a single councilmember questioned the cost, and the item passed unanimously.

Former Silver Spring Staples store to become FedEx Office and Massage Envy

The vacant Staples store at the corner of Georgia and Wayne Avenues, that more recently has hosted a pop-up Spirit Halloween store, is being subdivided into two tenant spaces by Peterson Companies. Half will be leased by a FedEx Office store, and the other part by Massage Envy.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Silver Spring construction update: Ripley East (Photos)

Extensive excavation has been completed since my last update on Ripley East, a future apartment tower located at 8384 Georgia Avenue. Ripley East will house 360 apartments, and a significant 17000 SF of retail space.