Monday, December 31, 2018

Downtown Vapor Company opening January 12 in Silver Spring

Downtown Vapor Company will have its official grand opening on January 12, 2019 at 8644 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring. The shop is brought to you by the same folks behind Bethesda Vapor Company in downtown Bethesda, which has managed to remain successful despite several attempts by the Montgomery County Council to inflict financial pain on the e-cigarette and vaping industry in the county.

Enjoy the opening sale prices, raffles, and food as the company celebrates its expansion. Products carried by Downtown Vapor Company will include e-cigarettes, e-liquids, glass pipes, vapors, wrapping papers and more.

Friday, December 28, 2018

New animated lights installed at United Therapeutics in Silver Spring

Check out these new lights at the campus of United Therapeutics in downtown Silver Spring. Their Unisphere expansion project is nearly finished.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Republic Garden to open in Silver Spring

The Republic Garden will take over the vacant space previously home to Lina's Diner and Piratz Tavern at 8402 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. That name is very close to one that is legendary in Washington, D.C. Republic Gardens was a popular nightclub on U Street beginning in the 1920s, and was eventually forced out by gentrification. It is remembered as an African-American cultural landmark in the District, having hosted jazz legends like Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

BeClaws closed in Wheaton after failing to pay rent; trial date set

BeClaws Cajun Seafood and Bar has closed at 2404 University Boulevard W. in Wheaton. Whether the closure is temporary or permanent appears to depend upon the restaurant paying back rent. One sign posted in the window claimed the closure was temporary for renovations.

However, an official court document has been posted by the landlord requesting payment of overdue rent and late fees totaling almost $8000. A trial date has been set for January 9 to resolve the issue.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Watch the action classic again tonight at a special Christmas Eve screening at AFI Silver Theatre, and decide for yourself. Screening time is 9:25 PM, and tickets are available online.

PJ's Coffee opens in Silver Spring

PJ's Coffee has opened in the Core apartment building at 8621 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. This is the New Orleans-based chain's first Mid-Atlantic location.

Viva Chinese Buffet to open at Wheaton Plaza

Viva Chinese Buffet is coming soon to Wheaton Plaza. It will be located in the large space that had been meant for the Tilted Kilt.

The failure of the Tilted Kilt franchisee to successfully open, and of Olive Garden to open its promised location by the mall's new movie theater, was a double-barrel dining disappointment for Wheaton.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Man shot in armed carjacking in Bel Pre area

Montgomery County police responded to a violent armed carjacking that occured in broad daylight in the Bel Pre area of Aspen Hill Thursday around 3:57 PM. Arriving on the scene in the 14200 block of Pear Tree Lane, officers found two men on the side of the road, one of whom had been shot in the lower body.

The victims told officers that the black Hyundai Sonata they were riding in was stolen by the armed carjackers. Police say the shooting victim's injuries are not life-threatening.

Anyone who has information about the suspects or this shooting is asked to call Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Paint Branch's Jean Germain chooses Towson

Paint Branch High School varsity football standout Jean Germain has chosen Towson University to launch his college career. The Burtonsville resident is ranked as the 23rd-best player in the state of Maryland by

Another Tigers team had their eye on the 6'5", 340-pound tackle: Clemson University. Germain has earned All-Met First Team honors from the Washington Post, according to a statement from Towson, and is a shot-putter on the Paint Branch track team.

Towson Tigers 2019 season tickets will go on sale starting on January 7, 2019.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue (Photos)

Here's the latest progress at Washington Property Company's Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue development in downtown Silver Spring. With a height of 20 stories, the Solaire 8250 will hold 338 apartments and 15000 SF of retail space, including outdoor seating for dining. Parking will be located in a three-level underground garage. Amenities will include a resort-style rooftop swimming pool and deck, cyber cafe, private courtyard, fitness center, and a club room complete with kitchen, library, flatscreen TV, fireplace and game room. Apartments will be a mix of studios and 1-and-2 bedroom units.

Lendlease is the contractor for the project, Design Collective of Baltimore is the architecture firm, and leasing of the street-level retail and restaurant space will be handled by Streetsense. Delivery is expected in Spring 2019, and as best I can tell from street level, it looks like they are on-schedule at this point.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Veirs Mill corridor master plan recommendations a mixed-bag for business owners

The Montgomery County Planning Board has approved a draft of the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan, and is forwarding it to the County Council, which will hold public hearings on it. Recommendations made in the plan could impact businesses in busy commercial areas, positively and negatively.

For example, the Board has recommended not building a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Randolph Road. If retained, that would remove one threat to businesses there. At the same time, the plan also recommends a sidewalk and "separated bike lanes" for the northern side of Veirs Mill between Havard Street and Bushey Drive, and for the southern side between Parkland Drive and the plan's eastern boundary.

Both of those sections run through the commercial area at Veirs Mill and Randolph. Looking at the cross section shown above in the plan for commercial areas, it's unclear how the County intends to obtain the width needed to provide all of those facilities in the right-of-way at that intersection, and if it would only fund such changes if those shopping centers redevelop into mixed-use "town centers."

Monday, December 17, 2018

MoCo cartel ramming through bill to make it harder for GOP, progressive Democrats to run for County Council

Cartel Democrats
take page out of
playbook to 
favor incumbents

The citizens of Montgomery County haven't asked Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14) to make it harder for Republicans and progressive Democrats to run for the County Council. But cartel Democrats who swept the Council elections in November - and want to hold those seats for the next twelve years - have. As have their developer sugar daddies, who are still stinging from the only race they lost out of dozens, County Executive. Luedtke has quietly filed Bill MC 6-19 in Annapolis, which would require everyone seeking to run for the Council to collect 1000 signatures if running At-Large, or 250 signatures if running for the less-contested district seats. 

Such a change would strongly favor incumbent cartel Democrats, who don't want to have to compete in a large field with progressive Democrats not beholden to developers in 2022. And the cartel doesn't want truly progressive County Executive Marc Elrich to gain any allies on the Council in 2022, either. The change would also impact Republican candidates as well. Both progressive Democrat and GOP candidates would be discouraged from running for office, the clear intent of the legislation.

The Luedtke bill goes strongly against the tide of his own party's stance on voting rights. While the trend outside of red states has been to make it easier to participate in the electoral process, Luedtke and the bill's backers actually want to make it tremendously more difficult for the average citizen to participate.

In fact, Bill MC 6-19 would implement a throwback barrier to candidacy that has been used in other states to discourage African-Americans from running for office - a fake requirement of the free time and financial resources needed to collect 1000 signatures. Is this the Democratic Party in Montgomery County in 2018?

Nancy Floreen is the prime example of why Luedtke and the cartel are trying to ram this bill through. Floreen, enjoying nearly $1 million in developer cash donations, was able to obtain thousands of signatures to qualify as an unaffiliated candidate for County Executive in 2018. She did not collect them herself; she hired signature collectors to storm the County. 

So, too, would the Council incumbents - and cartel-funded newcomers - be able to quickly get their 1000 signatures, without ever breaking a sweat themselves. Republicans and progressive Democrats? Not so much. 

This is an outrageous attempt to limit the ability to run for public office to only the well-funded and well-connected, and to the sugar daddies who pull their puppet strings. It must be stopped.

Contact your delegate by email or phone today, and tell them to vote against Bill MC 6-19 .

Friday, December 14, 2018

Aspen Hill Home Depot employees assaulted by knife-wielding shoplifter

America has experienced a criminal fad of stealing copper wire from buildings. One thief cut to the chase around 3:40 PM on December 2, stealing brand new copper wire from the Home Depot in Aspen Hill. The suspect allegedly shoplifted a large spool of the wire from inside the store, then attempted to hide the spool in nearby trees while he retrieved his car.

As the suspect walked to his black Toyota RAV4, two Home Depot employees who were aware of the theft attempted to retrieve the spool. The suspect quickly reappeared, and allegedly pulled a knife on the employees, shouting, "That's mine!" He then grabbed the spool, got into his vehicle, and drove away.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect or this theft and first-degree assault is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100.  Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Silver Spring teen missing

A 16-year-old girl from the Calverton/Cherry Hill area of Silver Spring is missing, and police are seeking your help in locating her. Ericka Alvarez, 16, hasn't been seen since noon on Monday, December 10, when she drove away from her Herrington Manor Drive home in a grey, 2005 Mercedes-Benz C230. While no one knows where she is, Alvarez has communicated with her family through social media since her disappearance.

Police describe Alvarez as a Latina, 5’ 01” tall and 105 pounds.  She has brown eyes, black hair, and multiple tattoos.  Alvarez was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants, and black and yellow shoes.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Ericka Alvarez is asked to call the Montgomery County Police Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24 hours).

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Stabbing at Wheaton Plaza

A man was stabbed at Wheaton Plza around 4:48 PM yesterday, Montgomery County police report. The unidentified victim was found at the mall by first responders with life-threatening injuries.

Based on their initial investigation, police believe the attack was not random. The suspect remains at-large. Anyone who may have been a witness, or has information regarding this incident, should contact detectives at 240-773-5530.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Attempted child abduction in Lyttonsville

A man allegedly attempted to abduct a child in Lyttonsville last Friday. Montgomery County police detectives from the Special Victims Investigations Division say an 8-year-old boy was dropped off by his school bus near the intersection of Lyttonsville Road and Grubb Road around 4:00 PM. He was then approached by a vehicle. A man believed to be around 40 years old told the boy to get into his vehicle, a light-gray 4-door sedan.

When the boy did not follow the command, the man reached out and grabbed the boy's shirt. The boy broke free, and the man - who detectives say had a "dark complexion" and wore black jeans and a gray jacket - showed the boy a firearm in his waistband.

The child ran home, and the police were summoned around 6:20 PM. Officers were unable to locate any witnesses to the incident in the neighborhood. Investigators continue to collect information and the Police Department has increased patrols in the area.  Police are asking anyone with information about this incident or any previous activity that might relate to this incident to please call detectives at 240-773-5400.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Matchbox posts "coming soon" signage in Silver Spring

Matchbox, a local chain known primarily for its pizzas and sliders, is coming to downtown Silver Spring. After trying a couple of new concepts - AG Kitchen and Hen Quarter, the landlord is bringing in a reliable and popular local brand at 919 Ellsworth Drive. Matchbox will open here in early 2019.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Pedestrian struck by police cruiser in Wheaton

A Montgomery County police cruiser struck a pedestrian in Wheaton last night around 9:27 PM, on Georgia Avenue near Blueridge Avenue. The pedestrian was transported to an unidentified local hospital with life-threatening injuries; the officer was not injured in the collision.

The marked 2016 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor was traveling southbound on Georgia when it collided with a male pedestrian in the roadway. Police say the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk when he was struck. The officer was not responding to an emergency call at the time of the collision, police reported, and its light bar and siren were not activated.

Anyone who witnessed the incident, or who has further information, is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ambassador Apartments closed down in Wheaton (Photos)

Ability to lose 162
units, low demand at
Halpine View raise new 
questions about MoCo's 
supposed affordable 
housing "crisis"

We've been hearing off-and-on about the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission's development plans for the Ambassador Apartments in Wheaton since 2012. At one point, it was said that a new building would be constructed on another part of the property, allowing current residents of the Ambassador to remain in their homes. But now, the building - a former Best Western hotel at the corner of Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard - has been shut down and fenced off. Businesses in the ground floor have also been vacated.

Residents have supposedly been relocated by the HOC to other properties around the county. However, the HOC declined to respond to media inquiries made earlier this week by press time. From what I can find in County documents, it appears the building will be demolished at a cost of up to $1.5 million, a cost that will be picked up by County taxpayers. HOC has previously requested the funds from the County Council for that purpose.

Demolition was to have begun this year, and construction of the new development was to break ground in 2019. It appears that would still be possible if demolition occurs soon.

The loss of 162 low-income housing units near Metro - and the apparent ability of the HOC to find that many vacant units for the departing tenants - raises questions about just how serious the affordable housing "crisis" is in Montgomery County. Last year, the owners of Halpine View in Rockville off Veirs Mill Road stated that demand for their affordable apartments was declining, and that they had a substantial number of vacancies.

Beggars cannot be choosers, as they say. A modest, older apartment at Halpine View or the Ambassador would beat being homeless any day of the week. There should not be vacancies at Halpine View, and it should not have been possible to find vacant homes for 162 families before closing the Ambassador. Dogged apartment hunters would surely have found these affordable gems in their desperate housing searches. What is going on here?

County residents are being told we must now throw traditional, common-sense zoning rules out the window to address a housing "crisis," a move that will destroy existing single-family home neighborhoods. It appears further study of just what is going on here is clearly needed before making such irresponsible planning and fiscal decisions, especially with the County facing a structural budget deficit every year as far out at the forecasts go. More transparency is also needed. How many vacant affordable apartments are there countywide as of today? Taxpayers and homeowners deserve to know before accepting the new onerous costs, and reduced quality of life, that would come with adding multifamily urban housing within residential SFH neighborhoods.