Tuesday, July 31, 2018

United Therapeutics acquires additional property in downtown Silver Spring

One of the very few bright spots in the moribund Montgomery County economy, United Therapeutics, has just upped its investment in downtown Silver Spring. Just as its ambitious Unisphere campus expansion nears completion, the biotech firm has acquired an additional piece of property.

United Therapeutics purchased a low-rise office building at 8808 Cameron Street on June 25 for $2,600,000. This gives them an additional 7256 SF of expansion space, adjacent to their existing campus. The purchase certainly portends continued growth by United Therapeutics, some much needed optimism in a downtown still reeling from the news that Discovery was relocating the bulk of its Silver Spring offices to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Meanwhile, look at the 3000 solar panels going onto the Unisphere facades. Along with deep geothermal wells under the buildings, the Unisphere is designed to have a net zero carbon impact on the environment.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Olney Jerry's Subs and Pizza contents to be auctioned off today

The contents of the Jerry's Subs and Pizza shop at 18100 Georgia Avenue are being auctioned off today. Everything from pizza ovens to dining room booths to toilet paper dispensers will be sold to the highest bidder, starting at 1:00 PM. The Mid-Atlantic chain known for its famous cheesesteaks and New York-style pizza has two new stores on the way in Silver Spring and Gaithersburg.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Blasting for Purple Line tunnel in Long Branch area to begin Monday

Batten down the hatches in Long Branch. Purple Line construction crews will be working tomorrow, and every Saturday through August, on the Plymouth Street tunnel for the light rail project. Things will take a turn for the worse Monday, however, when blasting of rock will begin.

Purple Line Transit Partners says blasting will only be performed when crews encounter rock conditions in the tunnel area that cannot be removed through other means. When this happens, they say, they will then give neighbors a 24-hour alert that blasting will occur. Blasting will continue for approximately nine months.

When completed, the Plymouth Street tunnel will extend from East Wayne Avenue to Arliss Street in Long Branch.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Wheaton Lot 13 redevelopment update

The sixth of ten concrete pours for the lowest garage level of the future Montgomery County government office building has been completed at Lot 13 in Wheaton. County officials report that the first pour for the garage wall was completed last Thursday. The first garage ramp pour is scheduled for August 7, and 33 such pours will be necessary for the ramp to reach street level.

Underground Pepco work along Ennalls Avenue is anticipated to be completed next week. Verizon will begin its underground work within the next 14 days along Grandview Avenue. Ultimately, all overhead utility wires along the east side of Grandview will be undergrounded as part of this project.

County officials say the project remains on-schedule for a Summer 2020 delivery.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Purple Line workers to reconfigure Silver Spring International Middle School lot this weekend

Purple Line construction crews will be working at Silver Spring International Middle School at 313 Wayne Avenue this Saturday, July 28, from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They will be reconfiguring the parking lot, and construct new entrances to the school, according to Purple Line Transit Partners. The upper and lower parking lots will reopen by the time classes resume this fall.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Moribund MoCo economy continues to tank in 2018

New regional statistics indicate Montgomery County's moribund economy is continuing its steep decline, even as boom times continue across the river in Northern Virginia. The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University noted in its June summary of area economic indicators that in 2018, the suburban Maryland jurisdictions of the D.C. area have only accounted for 5% of regional job growth. In contrast, Northern Virginia has accounted for a whopping 78% of job growth in our region so far this year, a devastating comparison.

Virginia currently enjoys a 3.2% unemployment rate, compared to 4.3% in Maryland. According to Aaron Gregg of the Washington Post, job growth in suburban Maryland counties has "softened" further. He quotes Fuller as noting Montgomery County doesn't have the private sector federal contractors that could benefit from the Trump administration's massive boost in defense spending.
Only one candidate can get Montgomery County's
moribund economy moving again.
Andy Bauer, a regional economist with the Richmond Federal Reserve, reports to the Post that "we're not seeing much job growth at all" in the suburban Maryland counties. "Northern Virginia just hasn't seen the weakness we've seen on the Maryland side."

Montgomery County has notoriously failed to attract defense and aerospace contractors - and any major corporate headquarters at all - over the last two decades. And the County Council has made aggressive moves in recent years to urge existing aerospace firm Lockheed Martin to leave the County, moves that even earned them a rebuke from their Democratic peers at the state level. "We don't need the Lockheed headquarters," Councilmember Nancy Floreen infamously told residents at the Aspen Hill Library in 2010. The Council removed a second Potomac River crossing to the Dulles area - an essential piece of infrastructure to compete with Northern Virginia for government contractors and international business firms - from the County's master plan. And it failed to win the Northrop headquarters, which ended up in - where else? - Northern Virginia.

In the Fuller Institute's June report, the authors wistfully recall the greater regional balance of decades past, when Montgomery County used to be a major player in the region, and Northern Virginia usually only accounted for 50% of regional job growth - not today's whopping 80%. To underline the stakes in the regional competition for the supposed 50,000 jobs of Amazon's HQ2, that job number is only 1500 less than the number of jobs created in the whole region between June 2017 and June 2018.
Montgomery County Council lead economic
advisor Vladimir Lenin
Unmentioned in either report are the County Council's record 2016 property tax and recordation tax hikes, 2010 energy tax hike, $15 minimum wage, and a barrage of other anti-business taxes, fees, restrictions and regulations passed since 2010 alone. While Virginia builds mile after mile of Express Lanes and steals our jobs, our Council is fighting Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes plan for I-270 and the Beltway at every turn. The Council's economic development trips abroad have been only to Communist and socialist nations including China, Cuba, and El Salvador under the rule of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who was a commander in the Communist FMLN during the country's civil war. The County even boasted that it had brought in Communist Chinese officials as advisors on the Council's $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle.

With fellow travelers like these, is it any wonder Montgomery County's economy is circling the drain?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Thayer & Spring (Photos)

The massive Thayer & Spring development has some facade work in place since my last update. A number of glass panels have been installed on the lower floors, as well. The building still presents as a Soviet apartment bloc form-wise, but if you look at the artist rendering at bottom, you'll see the final design breaks it up into the illusion of several smaller buildings. Will it work? We'll find out later this year. It remains one of the widest - if not the widest - single building under construction in Montgomery County.
When finished, the Fairfield Residential project will feature 415 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 walkway, and public art displays.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Park Valley Road Bridge to close today in Silver Spring

The Park Valley Road Bridge over Sligo Creek in Silver Spring is being replaced. It will close today, July 20, 2018, and expected to remain closed until late 2019, when the new bridge is completed. A vehicle detour will utilize Park Valley Road, Piney Branch Road and Sligo Creek Parkway, for a distance of 1.2 miles. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic on Sligo Creek Trail will be unaffected by the project.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Stabbing in Silver Spring

Jonathan (Jo'Nathan) S. Worth
A man was stabbed on Fenton Street in Silver Spring Tuesday, according to Montgomery County police. Officers responded to the 8500 block of Fenton around 5:41 PM that day, and found a 24-year-old man with a stab wound to his chest. The victim is in stable condition at a local hospital. Detectives say he did not know his assailant, who engaged in a verbal altercation on Ellsworth Drive.

Jonathan (Jo’Nathan) S. Worth, age 24, from the 8100 block of Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring was arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, and reckless endangerment.  Worth is currently being held without bond.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wheaton Lot 13 office building expected to reach street level by Thanksgiving

Montgomery County officials say they expect construction of the new County government office building at Lot 13 in Wheaton to have reached street level by Thanksgiving 2018. The next concrete pour for the P4 level of the underground parking garage was scheduled to be completed this week. Four pours remain to be completed on that level. Once that bottom slab is completed, construction of the building's walls can commence.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Washington Gas to replace gas lines, valves in East County, Takoma Park

Washington Gas is replacing several gas valves in eastern Montgomery County, and a gas line along New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park. Some of the work will have to be performed at night to avoid traffic impacts, as well as to comply with federal safety regulations. Washington Gas and contractor NPL have requested temporary noise waivers from Montgomery County for this purpose.

Gas valves will be replaced at the intersection of Sherwood Forest Drive and Randolph Road near Colesville, on New Hampshire Avenue between Tanley Road and Jackson Road in White Oak, and on New Hampshire Avenue between Oaklawn Drive and Powder Mill Road in Hillandale. The valve replacements will be made over several continuous three-day periods starting on July 24, 2018, and are expected to be complete by October(!).

The gas line being replaced is along New Hampshire Avenue between Linden Avenue and Auburn Avenue, and between Kingwood Drive and Erskine Street in Takoma Park. Work is scheduled to be performed between 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM, and is expected to be completed by October as well.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Enterprise Rent-a-Car installs signage at new Wheaton location

Enterprise Rent-a-Car has installed permanent signage at their future Wheaton location. The property at 11201 Veirs Mill Road was previously a Suntrust Bank. Enterprise recently opened a similarly-prominent location on Rockville Pike.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Pure Barre (Photos)

There's a ways to go still on the fit-out of Pure Barre at the Central development in downtown Silver Spring. The popular fitness studio's newest location has some lighting in place, as well as lockers. It will eventually join Orange Theory at arguably the fittest apartment building in Montgomery County. You can already sign up online. When open, Pure Barre will be located at 8455 Fenton Street.