Monday, February 29, 2016

Bourbon Street Café reopens at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

Bourbon Street Café is now open again after a renovation at Wheaton Plaza. Stop by for some Cajun cuisine.

Wheaton Library to close Sunday, March 13, at 5:00 PM for demolition

The Wheaton Library at 11701 Georgia Avenue will close at 5:00 PM on Sunday, March 13, 2016, for demolition. A closing ceremony will be held from 5:00-6:00 PM that evening at the library.

Montgomery County Government is promising the new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center will open on the site in the summer of 2018. The historic Wheaton Youth Center next door (now known as the Wheaton Recreation Center) was previously scheduled to close on March 28 for demolition. Led Zeppelin did play there.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Leggett's Cuba trip costs questioned

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's trip to Cuba is raising some questions about the amount taxpayers are picking up the tab for. The Montgomery County Young Republicans say the estimated $8700 being spent for Leggett and an assistant on the visit sounds too high for a country with cheap lodging accomodations. Even luxury hotel rooms there can be had for around $250 per night, they said in a press release.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro is paying her own way on the trip.

The MCYRs also question just how much business the "business" trip can generate. Even major corporations are having difficulty accessing the Cuban market, even after President Obama opened the possibility of such economic activity.

Noting the County is currently facing a $200,000,000+ budget shortfall, the YRs suggested elected officials should be sacrificing at this time. "Instead, several have decided to partake in a luxury, 5-day trip to Club Havana!" their statement said.

The organization is asking for an itemized accounting of all the expenses generated by the Cuban getaway. "Taxpayers have a right and desire to know how public funds are being spent," they said.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Save the date: Aspen Hill Library book sale

The Aspen Hill Library will host one final book sale prior to the start of the building's renovation. Support programs and new equipment for the library by buying books at blowout prices on Saturday, March 19, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Sponsored by Friends of Aspen Hill Library, the sale will be held in the Community Room.

Aspen Hill Library
4407 Aspen Hill Road

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Dennis Avenue Health Center nears opening in Silver Spring

The Dennis Avenue Health Center will occupy its new headquarters on Saturday, March 5, 2016. To facilitate the logistics of the move from the old building next door, the center will close from Friday, March 4 to Wednesday, March 9.

Part of Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services, the center houses a variety of programs, including the HIV/STD program; tuberculosis and refugee health; immunizations; disease control and public health emergency preparedness. Clients will be notified in advance of the move.

Residents with an urgent need to reach program staff should call 3-1-1 during the temporary closure.

Dennis Avenue Health Center
2000 Dennis Avenue
Silver Spring

Rendering courtesy Wilmot Sanz Architecture
All rights reserved

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Developer proposes 5 homes around Wheaton Woods Pool in Aspen Hill (Photos)

Developer Sitka Properties, LLC is asking the Montgomery County Planning Board to subdivide the property surrounding Wheaton Woods Pool into 5 lots for single-family homes. The homes would be located on a new cul-de-sac extension of Landgreen Street, off of Marianna Drive. A sixth lot containing the existing community pool would be created, as well.

The applicant is seeking an exception that would allow the new block of Landgreen Street to be only 44' wide, rather than the 60' width the rest of the road currently has. It has also requested a waiver from upgrading existing offsite sidewalks around the property. Planning staff are supporting the former, and rejecting the latter. So the developer will have to improve the existing sidewalk on the south side of Landgreen, between the site and Marianna Drive. It will be widened to 5'.

An existing storage building at the pool will be removed from the site, according to the staff report. The developer will have to make a school payment at the middle and high school levels, due to current overcrowding in the Wheaton High School cluster.

Planning staff say they have received no complaints about the project so far from nearby residents. However, the minutes from a public meeting on the development show that attendees did raise concerns about the adequacy of existing stormwater management infrastructure in particular, as well as screening and setbacks.

Construction is expected to begin this fall, should the plans be approved on schedule.

The project is considered to be compatible with the existing single-family home character of the surrounding neighborhood. Staff is recommending the Board approve the preliminary plan with conditions.

The Board will take up the Wheaton Woods proposal at its February 25 meeting.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Not Your Average Joe's banner up at Ellsworth Place in Silver Spring (Photos)

Not Your Average Joe's has posted a Coming Soon banner at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring. The restaurant will have outdoor patio seating when completed, with a prime spot at the corner of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Place. Not Your Average Joe's is scheduled to open this spring.

In more immediate restaurant news, don't forget the Aspen Hill Roy Rogers opens today!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Aspen Hill Roy Rogers opening confirmed for Monday, Feb. 22

It's now official - the new Aspen Hill Roy Rogers will open Monday morning, February 22, at 10:13 AM in the Northgate Plaza shopping center at 13884 Georgia Avenue.

The first 100 people in line will receive a $100 Cowboy Cash gift card. You must be 18 or older to win, and have a state-issued ID to show.

This will mark the long-awaited return of Roy's to Aspen Hill, where longtime residents recall the many delicious meals at the Roy Rogers in the Aspen Hill Shopping Center down the street from here. That former Roy's building is now the McDonald's there.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Silver Spring construction update: ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen (Photos)

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen is scheduled to open in March, but looks like it could open sooner, based on the progress inside. The restaurant replaces FroZenYo at 935 Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.

Ambassador Apartments redevelopment appears to be at least another year away in Wheaton

Several readers have been asking for an update on the planned redevelopment of the Ambassador Apartments at 2715 University Boulevard. The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County's most recent action on the property was at its December 2, 2015 meeting.

On that meeting's agenda, staff recommended extending the third-party management contract HOC has with Residential One, LLC through January 15, 2017. The minutes for the meeting are not yet posted to indicate if the board voted to approve the extension, but the proposal would suggest any demolition or construction are not imminent.

The former Best Western hotel was built in 1965, and became low-to-moderate income housing in 1994.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Aspen Hill Roy Rogers opening rumored for Feb. 22

The latest rumor is that the new Roy Rogers in the Northgate Plaza shopping center in Aspen Hill will open on Monday, February 22, 2016. No official statement has been issued by the Roy Rogers corporate office yet, however. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cava Grill opens in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

Cava Grill is now open at 8515 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring. This was formerly a Baja Fresh restaurant. Cava opened yesterday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Silver Spring construction update: Core apartments (Photos)

The tower crane is up at the construction site of the future Core apartments at 8621 Georgia Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring. Interestingly, the crane was spinning as the winds related to yesterday's snowstorm blew into town. That's exactly what it's designed to do in such conditions. For high winds, the crane is set to be able to rotate with the wind, so as to prevent it from toppling.

Foulger-Pratt and Willco are the development partners on the project.

Core will contain 292 apartments, and has a projected walk score of 95, with its proximity to so many jobs, amenities, restaurants, nightspots and transit in the downtown area. A new Rite-Aid is under construction on the next block, speaking of convenience. The 16-story building will also house about 1500 SF of its own retail/restaurant space.
A view of the crane
from a distance

Monday, February 15, 2016

Bourbon St. Cafe temporarily closes at Wheaton Plaza (Photo)

Bad timing with Mardi Gras just having passed last week, but Bourbon St. Cafe has temporarily closed for renovations at Wheaton Plaza. Unfortunately, they don't have a website or Facebook page I can find to try to ask what's specifically being changed. Well, at least they are going to reopen.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Second chance to comment on Hermitage Avenue closure in Wheaton

If you were one of those befuddled by Montgomery County going forward with the public hearing on the partial closure of Hermitage Avenue on January 27 - knowing that plows had just barely reached every street following the January 22-23 blizzard - you'll be glad to hear another chance is being offered to testify.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, the public hearing will continue at 7:00 p.m. at the County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, in the 7th Floor Hearing Room.

The closure of part of Hermitage where it meets Georgia Avenue in Wheaton will facilitate construction of the new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center, including an outdoor field for soccer and other events along the Georgia-fronting part of the property.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

MoCo native Roger Gastman to screen latest documentary at AFI Silver Theatre February 19

Bethesda native Roger Gastman returns to Montgomery County with his latest film, Wall Writers, next Friday, February 19, 2016, at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. The event begins at 7:00 PM, and the film starts at 7:30. Gastman will be bringing several of the groundbreaking graffiti artists who appear in the documentary, including TAKI 183, for a Q&A and book signing.

You can order tickets for the Wall Writers screening now online.

Narrated by filmmaker John Waters, Wall Writers brings back to life a golden age of graffiti in New York City and Philadelphia between 1967 and 1972. Witness the birth of an American subculture, and the artists and techniques that created an artform that today is as likely to be on exhibit in a museum as it is to be found on the streets. A companion book will be available for purchase, and for the book signing.
Roger Gastman
A multi-talented producer, director, publisher, art curator and consultant to major brands like Urban Outfitters, HBO, Nissan, Motorola, Sephora and Sprite, Gastman moved to Los Angeles in 2004. He still visits his hometown often. You may have seen his previous acclaimed documentary, The Legend of Cool "Disco" Dan, which has even more resonance if you rode the Metro Red Line when graffiti artist Dan Hogg was leaving behind his now-iconic tag, that would one day be seen in museums and Hollywood films.

If you saw how good that movie was, you definitely won't want to miss this one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Downtown Silver Spring building addition will reduce public space (Photo)

A new retail addition to a downtown Silver Spring office building would take away a third of the public space at 8455 Colesville Road if approved. The change would also require the removal of a fountain.

On the positive side, the project would also add new public art to the site, and relocate a staircase, which will create a better pedestrian connection between Colesville Road and Fidler Lane.

Planning staff is recommending approval of the request. The Montgomery County Planning Board is scheduled to take up the matter at its February 18 meeting.

Rendering courtesy Avison Young
All rights reserved

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Manno disables fundraising page on his website

Maryland State Senator Roger Manno (D - District 19) has disabled the fundraising page on his official website, following criticism yesterday that he had left it active during the current General Assembly session. It is not permissible to solicit or receive campaign contributions during the session. The Montgomery County Young Republicans noted that Manno had proposed a bill that would make doing the very thing he did a civil offense.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Manno accused of soliciting campaign funds during MD General Assembly session

The Montgomery County Young Republicans organization is accusing Maryland State Senator Roger Manno (D) of continuing to solicit campaign funds on his website, even as the current state legislative session is well underway. State lawmakers are forbidden from soliciting and accepting campaign contributions while the legislature is in session.

A MCYR press release includes a screen capture image of Manno's website, showing his fundraising page is active. Other legislators' online fundraising pages have been disabled, the press release says. As of this writing, Manno's fundraising page was still active to fill out forms, and select dollar amounts to contribute. The above screen capture was taken this morning.

The apparent transgression is particularly notable, the GOP group notes, because Manno has introduced a Senate bill that would make the solicitation of campaign contributions during a session a civil offense. "He is literally introducing legislation to make it a civil penalty for exactly what he is doing," the MCYR statement says. The organization says Manno should disable his fundraising page immediately, and return any contributions received since the session began.

Manno represents District 19 in the Maryland Senate, including Aspen Hill, Leisure World, Kemp Mill, and parts of Wheaton and Glenmont.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Aspen Hill Roy Rogers could open by February 24

Here's an update on the now super-long-awaited return of Roy Rogers to Aspen Hill. Apparently there's been a holdup in getting some of the needed equipment for the restaurant. They now are hoping to open by February 24. Keep your hands by your fry holsters, folks.

Takoma Park hosting conversation on affordable housing Saturday

Affordable housing, one of the biggest challenges facing Montgomery County today, is the topic of a Community Conversation tomorrow, February 6, from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM at the Takoma Park Community Center/Sam Abbott Citizens Center at 7500 Maple Avenue.

Members of the City Council, City staff and experts in the field locally and nationally will join you in a discussion of the issue, and new ideas for tackling it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

First look: AMC Theatres Wheaton 9 at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

Here are some very nice renderings of what the future AMC Theatres Wheaton 9 cineplex will look like when it's finished. The building used to house the venerable Montgomery Royal Theaters.

Also debuting in this structure's upper level, will be two other great additions to Westfield Wheaton Plaza - Bar Louie, and Olive Garden.
Renderings courtesy Ragona Architecture & Design
All rights reserved

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Aspen Hill Road right lane remained unplowed 10 days after Winter Storm Jonas (Photo)

Missed a spot. One of several trouble spots countywide that still need attention from plows was on Aspen Hill Road. Scott Shirley tweeted a video of the scene yesterday, where the right lane remained a snow drift. In the video, you can see he is approaching Connecticut Avenue and the Aspen Hill Shopping Center, heading toward Georgia Avenue.

Olive Garden coming to Wheaton Plaza

Unlimited breadsticks are coming to Wheaton. Olive Garden is the latest addition to the dining choices at Westfield Wheaton Plaza. It will be located in the upper level along with Bar Louie, by the new AMC Theatres cineplex.

I will dismiss any hipster complaints about this, because I personally couldn't be more pleased. I want Olive Garden, and there isn't a single one here in Montgomery County. That's just plain un-American.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Robbery in downtown Silver Spring; sex assault on Arcola Ave. + more - East MoCo crime update

Here's a roundup of some of the most notable crimes reported in the last week, according to crime data:

January 26

Assault. 14100 block Pear Tree Lane (Aspen Hill).

Assault. 3100 block Whispering Pines Drive (Aspen Hill)

January 27

Robbery. 8600 block Georgia Avenue at 2:47 PM (downtown Silver Spring).

January 28

Assault. 14600 block Tynewick Terrace.

Assault. 12000 block Claridge Road (Wheaton).

Assault. 13900 block Parkland Drive (Aspen Hill).

January 29

Assault. 14200 block Georgia Avenue (Aspen Hill).

Robbery. 6800 block New Hampshire Avenue at 10:46 AM.

Assault. Old Columbia Road at Tech Road.

January 30

Burglary. 13100 block Parkland Drive (Aspen Hill).

Assault. 12700 block Feldon Street.

Assault. 12300 block Charles Road.

Sexual assault. 1700 block Arcola Avenue at 12:22 AM.

January 31

Sexual assault. 8600 block Flower Avenue at 8:02 AM.

February 1

Assault. 9600 block Cottrell Terrace.

Monday, February 1, 2016

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen construction update in Silver Spring (Photos)

Here's a sneak peek inside the future ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen at 935 Ellsworth Drive, in downtown Silver Spring. Some furniture, lighting fixtures, and other interior features are already in place. It looks like the opening day could be in the near future.