Monday, October 31, 2016

Society Lounge rooftop shut down by MoCo, fix is in the works (Photo)

Montgomery County has shut down the tented rooftop space at Society Lounge at 8229 Georgia Avenue, citing the tent structure as non-compliant with County safety codes. A County inspector has slapped an "Unsafe" notice on the front of the restaurant. The restaurant remains open for business; only the rooftop area cannot be occupied.

Society Lounge has hired the local architecture firm of Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc. to design a new covered roof structure that will meet code. It will be a retractable, membrane-covered rooftop structure. SJKAIA, Inc. was the firm that designed a successful open-air rooftop space in downtown Bethesda, currently home to Tommy Joe's.

The new Olivia's View rooftop structure is expected to be completed by January, at a cost of $150,000.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sligo Creek Parkway detour Nov. 1, Nov. 3 in Takoma Park

Sligo Creek Parkway will temporarily close at the Carroll Avenue Bridge in Takoma Park from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Tuesday, November 1 and Thursday, November 3 next week. The closures are related to the bridge work already underway.

Drivers will have to follow a detour using Old Carroll Avenue, Carroll Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Maple Avenue. The detour area is shown in the above map. Reverse the detour route if you are heading south on the parkway.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rue21 grand opening at Ellsworth Place set for November 3

Fast-fashion retailer rue21 will open next Thursday, November 3, at 10:00 AM at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring. The first 100 customers in line will receive free giveaways.

This rue21 location will also include their rue+ line for plus-size teen girls. rue21 is located near McGinty's, F21 Red, and Pour Moi.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Glenmont Fire Station opens today

It's a big day in Glenmont. The first tangible result from the massive interchange project at Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road, the new Glenmont Fire Station 18, is being officially delivered this afternoon, October 26, at 1:00 PM. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will host the ceremony. Refreshments will be served.

Parking will be available at the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad at Georgia and Arcola Avenue; beginning at 12:30 PM, shuttles will transport attendees to the station, where there is no parking(!!).

Handicapped parking is available at the station, however, which is located at 12210 Georgia Avenue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Auntie Anne's coming to Ellsworth Place, Photo Palace to extend its stay

What's a trip to the mall without a hot Auntie Anne's pretzel? Apparently Ellsworth Place ownership Petrie Richardson Ventures and Rockwood Capital and the ubiquitous mall pretzel purveyor agree, and have come to terms on a lease for Auntie Anne's in a 730 SF space on Level 2.

Also signing a new lease is long-time tenant Photo Palace, which already debuted a renovated 855 SF shop on Level 1 of the downtown Silver Spring mall.

“We’re blending the old with the new, with Auntie Anne’s being part of the quintessential shopping experience, and Photo Palace representing an updated piece of the old Ellsworth Place and of the downtown community,” Terry Richardson, president and COO of PRV, said in a statement. “These two tenant announcements continue the momentum for the upcoming grand opening of Dave and Buster’s and Guitar Center shortly thereafter.”

Dave and Buster's is currently expected to open on November 20.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Aspen Hill Library closing Nov. 9; interim Wheaton Library closed now through Nov. 17

Two libraries in eastern Montgomery County are temporarily closing for different reasons. The Aspen Hill Library will close for about 6 months on November 9. It is one of the libraries being updated under the "refresh" program. It will return will new carpet, paint, bathrooms, furniture, a 24-hour drop box, and additional study rooms. The last book drops will be accepted at Aspen Hill on Tuesday, November 22; after that you will need to return books to other libraries.

There is an MCPL Express library kiosk available at the Midcounty Community Center at 2004 Queensguard Road where you can borrow and return books and DVDs.

Meanwhile, the interim Wheaton Library in the ballroom of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad building at 2400 Arcola Avenue closed Friday, and will remain closed through November 17. The closure is due to the room being used for early voting, which itself begins October 27. Get out and vote YES on Question B to pass term limits on our inept County Council!!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dorothy's Woods to be dedicated Sunday in Takoma Park

Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart will officially present a copy of the resolution designating a City-owned forest area "Dorothy's Woods" to resident and local historian Dorothy Thomsen Barnes on Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 PM. The ceremony will be held at the woods, located at the intersection of Woodland and Circle Avenues. Refreshments will be served.

Barnes was born in a house at the edge of the woods on Elm Avenue in 1922, and grew up playing in those woods, in which many of the trees were only small saplings at the time. The woods include a natural spring.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Journeys moving at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

Shoe and apparel retailer Journeys is moving at Wheaton Plaza. Their new location will be near Payless.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ooh La La Beauty Bar to bring blowouts to Wheaton Plaza

Ooh La La Beauty Bar is coming soon to Wheaton Plaza. This is the newest location for a chain of salons offering a Drybar-style blow dry bar, along with traditional beauty salon services. The company is a new one, only founded in 2014, and mall locations are one of their primary markets.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ice skating rink opens in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

The ice skating rink is up and running on Veterans Plaza at the Silver Spring Civic Building in downtown Silver Spring. With temperatures reaching 80 degrees yesterday, it may not have made a whole lot of sense, however. If this is global warming, I'll take it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dave & Buster's logo added to Ellsworth Place exterior in Silver Spring (Photos)

The first exterior signage for the highly-anticipated Dave & Buster's has been installed at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring. Dave & Buster's is currently expected to open on November 20.

Also just added, a prime new facade sign spot for F21 Red, which interestingly spells out Forever 21 in red as well as the F21 name. It's located right under the clock on the historic former Hecht's department store facade.

Friday, October 14, 2016

AMC Wheaton 9 cineplex opens at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

I am delighted to report the new AMC Wheaton 9 movie theater opened yesterday at Wheaton Plaza at 11006 Veirs Mill Road. Amenities include reserved seating, reclining seats, and Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in the concession area. Especially nice is the MacGuffins Bar & Lounge in the lobby.

Tickets can be purchased online. As the name suggests, there are 9 screens. The first movies to be shown at the cineplex are The Accountant, Birth of a Nation, Deepwater Horizon, The Girl on the Train, Kevin Hart: What Now?, Middle School, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Snowden and Storks.

"AMC Wheaton Mall 9," which is what AMC's corporate folks are calling it now, is located near the Ana G. Mendez University System building, and across from J.C. Penney. The building used to be home to the Wheaton Plaza 11 and Montgomery Royal theatres.

Just in time for the weekend, another win for Wheaton Plaza and downtown Wheaton.
Grand opening
AMC Premiere members
get their own line

Bar Louie is in
the same building
These should be holding
movie posters by the time
you arrive today

Step up to the bar
at MacGuffins in
the lobby for beer,
wine or cocktails
Coca-Cola Freestyle

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Max Cafeteria & Grill coming to Wheaton (Photos)

The new businesses are really popping up in the Wheaton Triangle. In addition to the just-opened El Dollar Plus store and future Pan Lourdes Bakery, there is also Max Cafeteria & Grill. The restaurant will be located in the Levin-Greenberg building, the same structure at Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive that houses El Dollar Plus.

It looks like the build-out of the interior hasn't begun yet, so there's a ways to go before opening at Max Cafeteria. But it's interesting that so many businesses are opening ahead of the major redevelopment of Lot 13 in Wheaton Triangle. The construction and loss of parking are going to be a major challenge for all of the small businesses there for a couple of years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Silver Spring construction update: Core luxury apartments (Photos)

CoreCore, a mixed-use development at 8621 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, is now about 13 stories above street level. 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. The 16-story building will also house about 1500 SF of its own retail/restaurant space. Three more stories to go before topping out!
Core is now visible
from various points
around downtown
You can even see it from the
Fillmore, AFI Silver Theatre
and Ellsworth Place

Leggett: Montgomery County becoming a "bedroom community" as jobs go elsewhere

The latest vindication of my diagnosis of what ails Montgomery County comes from our highest-ranking elected official, and de facto leader of the Democratic Party, County Executive Ike Leggett. I've been noting for years, to the displeasure of the County's political cartel, that we are becoming a bedroom community for the growing job centers elsewhere in our region. In the meantime, our private sector economy has become moribund.

Leggett now agrees with me. In testimony before the County Council's Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee last Thursday, Leggett's special assistant Joy Nurmi relayed his concerns on this very topic.

Nurmi noted that the percentage of development that is residential rose between 2005 and 2014, while the percentage that is office, retail and industrial declined. She said Leggett opposes impact tax increases on developers that could disincentivize office, retail and industrial projects.

"We are trending toward becoming a bedroom community and he doesn’t want to drive us further in that direction," Nurmi warned the Council. "It is a trend. And he is very concerned about disincentivizing commercial development anywhere in the County."

It is indeed a trend, with the County Council and/or Planning Board having allowed commercial properties, job centers and office buildings in Rockledge, Wheaton, Westbard, Aspen Hill, and the I-270 corridor to be converted to residential in recent months and years. The City of Rockville has approved similar conversions in King Farm, Tower Oaks, and the Shady Grove corridor in the last 24 months.

Loss of office space, businesses and land for corporate headquarters (MoCo hasn't attracted a major one in two decades) means more and more commuters driving to reach job centers elsewhere in Northern Virginia. And over the last 16 years, Montgomery County lost over 2000 retail jobs, according to the Maryland Association of Retailers. All of that means more traffic congestion on County roads.

Leggett joins other heavy hitters who are now starting to acknowledge the truth I've been reporting for years. The Washington Post recently referred to the County's eastern half as "economically moribund" (hopefully in the near future, they'll realize the western half is, too. But it's huge that they even acknowledged half is). And the former Chief of Staff to failed Councilmember Hans Riemer concurred, declaring Montgomery County's private sector economy "stagnant," and suffering from "weak economic performance" and "sluggish growth" during his ex-boss's tenure.

I couldn't have said it better myself!

In addition to the loss of those retail jobs, Montgomery County today has less private sector jobs than it did in 2001. Ouch.

During that time, Loudoun County gained 42,929 jobs. The District gained 78,011 jobs.

How many did we gain? Zero.

In fact, we had only a net loss of jobs, losing 3885 while the counties all around us averaged 9.5% in private sector job growth during those 15 years. Montgomery County is indeed a great place to live - hence our always-booming residential growth. Increasingly, however, it is not a place to work.

Leggett is correct. I'm correct. We are becoming the bedroom community for the region. And now we need to get a County Council that doesn't live in an alternate reality, and can get us out of the economic development mess we're in. We can start by voting for term limits this November.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pan Lourdes Bakery coming to Wheaton

Here's another great addition to the Wheaton Triangle. Pan Lourdes Bakery, a Central American-style bakery with cakes, pastries, scones, donuts, coffee, bread pudding and more is taking over the vacated Rock Creek Catering spot at 11210 Triangle Lane.

The chain - a local, independent chain - already has locations in Mount Rainier, Columbia Heights and Petworth/Brightwood. That makes this the first venture into Montgomery County by the bakery.

Monday, October 10, 2016

El Dollar Plus opens in Wheaton Triangle (Photos)

Here's a nice addition to the Wheaton Triangle: El Dollar Plus has opened at 11208 Grandview Avenue. The store is what it sounds like - a dollar store en espanol. Food, household items, school supplies, as well as some unique items you might not find at the typical chain dollar store.

El Dollar Plus is located under ZP Tax, at the corner of Grandview and Reedie Drive.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Police investigating Wheaton accident

A collision near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Dawson Avenue in Wheaton left one person with life-threatening injuries last night. According to Montgomery County Police, a male pedestrian was crossing southbound Georgia - and was not in a marked crosswalk - heading west shortly before 7:30 PM last night. He was struck by a southbound Chevrolet Suburban.

Officers responded to the scene around 7:28 PM, and the pedestrian was transported to a local hospital.

Police say the pedestrian who was struck may have been under the influence of alcohol. They are investigating that, and are not releasing his name until his family can be notified. The driver of the Suburban was not injured.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wheaton carjacking suspect arrested (Photo)

The alleged perpetrator of a brazen carjacking in Wheaton Monday night is now behind bars. Montgomery County Police responded to a report of an armed carjacking around 9:00 PM that night at the W Express gas station at 2204 University Boulevard West.

A woman was fueling her 2011 Toyota RAV 4 at the gas pumps when she was allegedly accosted by the suspect, Anthony Eugene Shade, 41, of Oxon Hill. Police say Shade gestured that he had a weapon in his pocket and verbally threatened harm to the victim unless she handed over her car keys. The victim complied, and went into the gas station to call 911 as Shade allegedly fled in the RAV 4.

Police spotted the stolen vehicle about 20 minutes later, traveling southbound on New Hampshire Avenue at University Boulevard East. Shade declined to pull over, and a pursuit began. Officers chased Shade all the way into Arlington County, where he proceeded to crash into another vehicle at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Highland Street.

Shade was taken into custody by Arlington County police, and is awaiting extradition to Montgomery County. He was treated at a local hospital for injuries he sustained in the wreck. The Wheaton victim was not injured, but no details were released on the occupants of the vehicle Shade collided with in Arlington.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Police: Rape of Sandy Spring teen "not a random act"

A troubling rape case in Sandy Spring is becoming murkier by the minute. While police had released a description of a suspect in the September 15 rape of a teenage girl walking to school, they now say they have identified and spoken to the alleged assailant. Detectives have now determined the assault was "not a random act," but are releasing no further details.

The state's attorney's office is reviewing the case, and police say there is no danger to the public related to this incident.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Truck crashes into La Frontera restaurant in Silver Spring (Photo)

A Dodge Ram pickup truck "ram"-med into La Frontera at Stoneymill Square at 4217 Randolph Road around 6:30 AM this morning. The driver was trapped in the cab, but was extricated by firefighters and transported as a trauma patient to a local hospital, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer.

There is damage to the building, and a building inspector has temporarily condemned the structure until the extent of the damage can be assessed. It is unknown how soon the restaurant will reopen, assuming the damage can be repaired.

Photo: Pete Piringer/MCFRS