Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Vitoria's Kitchen opening in Wheaton

Vitoria's Kitchen is coming to the dining scene in Wheaton. They are describing their menu as Latin American cuisine. The restaurant will be located at 2302-2304 Price Avenue, in the shadow of the Safeway building. Sounds like another promising dining option in easy walking distance to the Wheaton Metro and future town plaza, for diners coming from elsewhere in the area.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Wheaton Wendy's closed for renovations

Wendy's at Wheaton Plaza is temporarily closed for renovations. Customers are being redirected to other Wendy's locations in Aspen Hill and Colesville. However, the Wendy's on Nicholson Lane and at Rockville Pike and 1st Street in Rockville are arguably more convenient to Wheaton than Colesville. Don't miss out on Wendy's' Baconfest this month.

LebTav opens in Silver Spring

LebTav has opened at 8535 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring. Lebanese Taverna has downsized its locations around the county into this fast casual format. Like their Congressional Plaza location, this one also relocated to a new space. They have patio seating, but it was in the 90s yesterday, so there weren't many takers in such humid heat.

The Republic Garden to open next week in Silver Spring

The Republic Garden restaurant and lounge will officially open next week, according to an employee at the business. Their menu will feature a mixture of African and Caribbean dishes. The Republic Garden is located at 8402 Georgia Avenue, formerly home to Piratz Tavern and Lina's Diner.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Trail section closure in Northwest Branch Stream Valley in Silver Spring

A portion of the Rachel Carson Greenway trail (in yellow on above map) is closed for the next several weeks as part of a trail realignment project in the Northwest Branch Stream Valley. The closed stretch runs from the Capital Beltway to the beginning of the hard surface section of the Northwest Branch Trail. Watch for construction crews in that area of the park over the coming weeks, and stay tuned for a trail reopening date.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Spicy burglary in White Oak (Video)

Montgomery County police are searching for one-or-more suspects in the smash-and-grab burglary of the Spicy America grocery store at 11409 Lockwood Drive in White Oak, on July 7 at 4:24 AM. The one suspect caught on camera smashed the glass door, entered through the opening, and grabbed a cash register before absconding in a silver/grey SUV. That suspect is also the prime suspect in the burglaries of the MacArthur Boulevard Exxon station in Bethesda, and of the Beijing Cafe on Crain Highway in Bowie.

Anyone with information regarding these burglaries or suspects involved is asked to call the 3rd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6870.  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, July 25, 2019

Silver Spring's Astro Lab Brewing launching 2 canned beers Friday

Tahia New Zealand Pilsner
Astro Lab Brewing will launch their first 2 canned beers in the Silver Spring brewery's history this Friday, July 26, 2019 at 11:00 AM. Be one of the first and few to pick up a can of Tahia New Zealand Pilsner, or the Fresh As IPA - or both. Both will be available for sale in limited quantities, no pre-sale orders, at only two locations - Astro Lab at 8216 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, and at Downtown Crown Wine & Beer at 303 Copley Place in Gaithersburg.
Fresh As IPA

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wheaton Lot 13 redevelopment project update (Photos)

Construction of the concrete building frame for the future Montgomery County Government office building at Lot 13 in the Wheaton Triangle is now complete, County officials say. Tyvek is installed on most floors, as construction of exterior walls continues. Interior wall framing is underway on floors 4 through 8, and utility installations are being performed as high as the 11th floor.
Nighttime sewer utility work should be completed by the end of this week, County officials report. Micro piles have been driven at the future Town Plaza site between the building and the Wheaton Metro station. Concrete foundations are currently being constructed at the plaza for elevated walkways, bio-retention areas, and the performance stage. Delivery is scheduled for Summer 2020.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Silver Spring hair salon to become hookah lounge

The building previously home to Salon 8227 in downtown Silver Spring will soon be home to a hookah lounge. Located at 8227 Georgia Avenue, the 2048 SF space is next door to The Society Lounge, which should facilitate some late night synergy here.

Monday, July 22, 2019

MoCo residents to protest County Council ADU vote Tuesday

The Montgomery County Council will try to ram through revised Accessory Dwelling Unit zoning rules that will allow tiny homes to be constructed in backyards countywide, in many cases without requiring additional parking spaces. It is the first step in the Council's effort, driven by the developer sugar daddies who funded all nine members' 2018 campaigns, to end single-family home zoning in the County. Residents, over a thousand of whom have signed a petition opposing the ADU scheme, will protest outside the County Council building tomorrow morning, Tuesday, July 23, 2019 at 9:00 AM, at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville.

Councilmembers, led by Hans Riemer, plan to introduce another zoning scheme that will allow duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, boarding houses, and even assembly of single-family home lots into stack-and-pack apartment complexes, in currently single-family home neighborhoods. Too incompetent to address the County's moribund economy, failing schools, and rising violent crime, the Council's Maoist-inspired strategy is to bring down successful neighborhoods and school clusters via allowing multifamily development in every neighborhood countywide, and through forced busing of children to schools outside of their neighborhoods.

Residents who have seen the results of similar radical strategies in Seattle and San Francisco are saying, "No, thanks" to the ZTA plan. The ZTA plan will increase school overcrowding in desirable school clusters, and the ultimate multifamily rezoning will more than quadruple existing school overcrowding. Protesters will ask the Council to delay the ZTA vote tomorrow.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Montgomery County 911 system fails again

Officials don't know how
many emergency calls went
unanswered during outage

Montgomery County's 911 system failed twice Thursday, according to the Montgomery County Police Department, which does not operate the system. An MCPD spokesperson said that County officials cannot, as of now, tell them how many urgent 911 calls went unanswered during the service interruptions, but that the department is aware of one caller in need of basic life support medical services who was affected.

Callers who dialed 911 around 8:30 AM yesterday morning - and again between 9:35 and 9:43 AM - could not get through to the 911 call center, and instead heard a message saying they number they'd reached was out of service. According to MCPD, the failure was traced to a network outage between system components.

There is no indication that the Alert Montgomery system informed citizens of either outage. Montgomery County Government has yet to post any statement regarding the outages as of this writing.
It was exactly three years ago that I broke the story of a similar 911 system failure. Later, the County tried to cover up the fact that Alert Montgomery had failed to issue alerts to subscribers until long after the outage had ended. Two people were confirmed to have died has a result of that 2016 911 system failure, 

Yet despite their failure having fatal results for two of their constituents in 2016, the County Council has clearly failed to change its ways. Here we are again, with another 911 outage three years later. Similarly, the Council failed to upgrade the public safety radio communications system for County first responders for more than a decade, deliberately kicking the can down the road to have more play money to spend on their cartel sugar daddies.

In fact, since taking the oath of office last December, the latest Council has failed to take action on a single major crisis. Not a single thing has been done to exercise oversight and update the 911 system, complete our master plan highway system, turn around our moribund economy that now ranks last in the region by every economic development benchmark, nor to address rising rates of violent crime.
Most of the current Council term has been spent on a grotesque attack on the men and women of the Montgomery County police department. The Council's continual slander, defamation and disparagement of Montgomery's finest only put our first responders and the public in greater danger. Which fits perfectly with the County Council's record of making public safety a low priority, to the point that there are actual people who have died as a result of their failure to address basic government issues like providing a functioning 911 system. It's outrageous.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Takoma Park goes forward with plan to screen film highly-critical of Israel July 23

JCRC protests decision;
CAIR calls effort to cancel
movie night "cowardly"

Takoma Park's Mayor and Council is pressing forward with the rescheduled screening of "Occupation of the American Mind" on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 from 7:00-9:30 PM in the auditorium of the Takoma Park Community Center, located at 7500 Maple Avenue. They are again being heavily criticized by some residents and local Jewish organizations for proceeding with the rescheduled screening of the Roger Waters-narrated film, which is highly critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians and territorial occupation.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has again written to Takoma Park officials asking them to call off the screening. A prior screening this summer was postponed after the controversy reached national and international news outlets. The city arts organization hosting the screening abruptly changed its name after it was identified in those news reports.

This second time around, Takoma Park extended an invitation to the JCRC to have a representative participate in a discussion panel about the film. In a response to city leaders, JCRC Executive Director Ronald Halber and Maryland Community Relations Director Meredith Mirman Weisel declined the invite, saying they could not join a roundtable that included representatives of "organizations explicitly opposed to the very existence of the State of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination,"

JCRC is now calling on the community to petition City leaders to cancel the new screening, and have set up an action page on their website to assist in those communications. Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart said she is "disappointed" that the JCRC declined the city's invitation to participate in the screening panel. She said she and the City Council "do not endorse" the content of the film, but are trying to "create a space for people to listen, critique, discuss, and learn from each other."

Stewart said the city is bringing in a "professional facilitator" named Theo Brown to moderate the screening program. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld and Maharat Ruth Friedman of Ohev Shalom Synagogue, Matthew Mayers of J Street, and Taher Herzallah of American Muslims for Palestine will participate in the post-screening discussion. Others have been invited, and the list may be updated, city officials said.

Some residents strongly support the screening, and have said canceling it would be censorship. The JCRC says they are opposing the screening on the grounds that it is taxpayer-funded.

Muslim advocacy organization CAIR praised Stewart for standing her ground on the movie plans. "In their handling of this situation, Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart and the city council demonstrated a level of moral leadership, courage and professionalism that is often missing in political spaces today," CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry said in a statement. "We applaud them for not capitulating to cowardly attempts to erase narratives that are often missing in our national discourse."

Photo via "Occupation of the American Mind" official website

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Riemer admits Montgomery County is in "crisis"

Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D -At-Large) admitted at a gathering of developers and real estate industry insiders Tuesday that the County he's helped to run for the last nine years is in "crisis." Just last year, in a bizarre and rambling press conference, Riemer had denied Montgomery had grown moribund - despite reporters citing official federal statistics proving it was at rock bottom in the region by every economic development benchmark. But at Bisnow's Future of Bethesda and Beyond event yesterday, Riemer changed his tune and acknowledged MoCo is getting whipped by Northern Virginia. But despite being surrounded by local business experts on panels at the event, Riemer brushed aside their advice and doubled down on stupid, falsely claiming the problem is a lack of skilled workers.

Riemer also lied about just how bad the crisis is. He falsely told the Bisnow audience that Northern Virginia had only dominated job growth in the region for the last two years. In fact, it has dominated throughout this century. The numbers just get worse and worse for Montgomery. Northern Virginia accounted for 91% of all job growth in the region over the last year, according to a Stephen S. Fuller Institute report cited at the Bisnow event.

For the second time in as many weeks, Foulger Pratt CEO Cameron Pratt hit the nail on the head, calling for a long-delayed new Potomac River crossing to Dulles to be built. "Look at the number of jobs being created just a few miles away on the other side of the river," Pratt told the Bisnow audience. "We've got this Great Wall of China, which is the Potomac River, that nobody can cross because there's one access point down at the American Legion Bridge. If we could connect to all of the economic activity in Northern Virginia and the Dulles Toll Road by building a bridge, all of a sudden Gaithersburg and Germantown become connected instantly."

Riemer also admitted that, despite loud declarations since 2014 that the Council would tackle the missing school capacity infrastructure crisis, "some of our most attractive real estate markets are in moratorium right now." Humiliating! He promised the Council would get around to ending the moratorium sometime late next year, a La-Z-Boy agenda pace that business leaders in attendance found less than reassuring.

Duball, LLC President Marc Dubick said the moratorium "scares the living heck out of our institutional partners. Clarity with schools should be a top priority." But despite claims that it was, the Council never actually provided that clarity, much less the classroom space needed.

Think about it. Riemer has taken in tens of thousands of dollars from his developer sugar daddies over the last decade. Yet, even with nine whole years to solve the problem, he still couldn't even deliver the basic infrastructure needed to prevent a moratorium. Along with cratering the County's economy, destroying the food truck industry in the County, and tanking the nighttime economy, it shows incompetence of the highest order.

Surrounded by expert advice from business leaders, who correctly identified the problems as missing highway infrastructure and a hostile business climate with high taxes and over-regulation, Riemer was again lost without backup from cue cards and staff. According to Riemer, highly-educated Montgomery County lacks skilled workers, and needs to train its workforce. He also delivered a rambling and incoherent speech promising that the Purple Line would attract biotech jobs to the already-densely-developed Silver Spring area, when in fact, such companies need larger campuses that are only viable along I-270 and in White Oak, neither of which is on the Purple Line.

Riemer isn't the sharpest tool in the drawer, that's for sure. Only at the end of his political career in Montgomery County has he finally summoned the courage or the shame to admit the jurisdiction he's run for nine years is in a full blown economic crisis. But as they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Forever 21 relocates at Wheaton Plaza

Forever 21 has moved to a new location inside Wheaton Plaza. The fashion retailer is now located near JC Penney.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Fat Fingers soft opening today in Silver Spring

Silver Spring will get its first taste of Fat Fingers when the fast-casual comfort food eatery holds its soft opening today, July 15, 2019. The menu does not disappoint, with pizza, burgers, Fat'wiches and half smokes taking top billing. You can even get fried seafood and crab cakes, along with salads, wings and classic, All-American appetizers and side dishes. Fat Fingers is located at 8213 Georgia Avenue.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Silver Spring man missing

Montgomery County police are searching for a missing Silver Spring man. Andrew Ankrom, 27, hasn't been seen since leaving his home in the 8600 block of 16th Street on Wednesday, July 10, around 7:30 PM. Detectives say Ankrom needs medication that he did not bring with him.

Ankrom is described by police as an African-American male, about 5’05” tall, and weighing approximately 185 pounds.  He has brown eyes, short black hair and wears glasses. Ankrom was wearing a red baseball hat, a red baseball jersey style shirt over a white shirt, red pants, and red shoes with rhinestone straps when he disappeared.  Police say he was also carrying a backpack that had Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog on it (see below).
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Andrew Ankrom is asked to call the Montgomery County Department of Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24/7).

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Two downtown Silver Spring hotels sold

Two hotels in downtown Silver Spring have been sold. The 149-room Hampton Inn at 8728-A Colesville Road, and the 90-room Homewood Suites by Hilton at 8728 Colesville Road, were purchased by a shell company controlled by Civitas Capital. Both hotels were owned by the same company, which renovated both this decade, and are located in one co-branded property. Civitas paid $36,100,000 for the hotels, according to Maryland real estate records.

According to a source familiar with the situation, both hotels have suffered a loss of business over the last two years, due to the nearby construction on the United Therapeutics campus. With that project now completed, the deal looked like a winner for Civitas, as business is expected to return to normal levels - and possibly increase, due to its proximity to the biotech campus.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Foulger Pratt CEO criticizes MoCo for failing to complete master plan highway system

Tells Bisnow, "there's no comparison"
between moribund MoCo and booming
Northern Virginia office markets

Foulger Pratt CEO Cameron Pratt is the latest regional business leader to speak out on the moribund Montgomery County economy, which has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in over two decades. That matters to the real estate firm, which has many Montgomery County office buildings in its regional portfolio. Pratt tells Bisnow in a new interview that "there's no comparison" between stagnant MoCo and booming Northern Virginia when it comes to office tenant interest. He cites MoCo official's cancellation of major parts of the county's master plan highway system as a major reason we've become the bedroom community for booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

Of course, Pratt notes that Northern Virginia is much more business-friendly in its policies, and is far more aggressive in wooing companies. Both factors can almost go without saying. But he zeroes in on infrastructure as a deciding factor, as have many CEOs who have chosen Virginia over Montgomery County in recent decades.

"I think the biggest challenge Montgomery County has is infrastructure," Pratt tells Bisnow's Jon Banister. "You look at Northern Virginia; they have two airports, they have a significant freeway system connecting the airports and the suburbs to downtown, and they’ve spent money to invest in HOT lanes, in extending the Metro to Dulles Airport. That infrastructure is because of decades of planing and investment and Montgomery has not made those same investments. Montgomery County does not have a freeway connecting the suburbs to downtown. It does not have significant airport infrastructure and has not extended Metro further out. They have not been willing to grapple with the important issue of another river crossing and if Montgomery County is not willing to make investments in infrastructure, I don’t think they’ll be able to attract employers and compete with Northern Virginia."

What a bodyslam. "That's gotta hurt, Gene." Pratt's interview comes ahead of next week's Bisnow-sponsored event that will focus on the future of business and real estate in Montgomery County.

Pratt is one of the few CEOs to publicly challenge County officials' ongoing refusal to complete the master plan highway system. Bob Buchanan, another County business leader willing to speak up, told transportation officials in Virginia that many of his MoCo business colleagues are afraid to challenge elected officials on their failure to build the new Potomac River crossing because of political pressure.

Montgomery County officials years ago canceled no less than three freeways leading into the District: the Northwest Freeway, the North-Central Freeway, and the Northern Parkway. They canceled the Rockville Freeway in the late 1980s, and are currently blocking the M-83 Highway from being constructed in the upcounty. And of course, they've prevented the new Potomac River crossing to the Dulles Airport area from being built for decades. Dulles has the wide variety and frequency of flights to international business destinations that corporate leaders need to be competitive. They simply cannot meet their travel needs at BWI or Reagan National, which themselves are infuriatingly long drives away from MoCo.

Imagine knowing what the solutions to a major problem are, and simply refusing to implement them. Under the current "leadership" of our MoCo political cartel-controlled Council, that is what passes for "The Montgomery Way." Heckuva job, Brownie!

Yappy Hour this Thursday at The Greene Turtle in Burtonsville

The Montgomery County Humane Society will host a Yappy Hour tomorrow evening, Thursday, July 11, 2019 from 6:00-8:30 PM at The Greene Turtle, located at 15660 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. Admission is $15 per person, and $25 per couple. No charge for your dog to attend.

All proceeds will go to help homeless cats and dogs at the Humane Society's facility in Rockville. The Greene Turtle will be donating 10% of all food and beverage sales during the Yappy Hour to MCHS, as well. There will also be a raffle with prizes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Silver Spring teen missing

Dulce Salazar
Montgomery County police are searching for a missing Silver Spring teenager. Dulce Salazar, 15, hasn't been seen by friends or family since 3:00 AM Monday morning, July 8 when she left her home on foot.  Police describe Salazar as a Latina, 5’02” tall, and weighing 140 pounds. She has brown eyes and brown hair.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Dulce Salazar 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).

Monday, July 8, 2019

19-story cell tower proposed for Good Hope Road in Silver Spring

AT&T is proposing to construct and operate a 189' tall cell tower at 14860 Good Hope Road in Silver Spring. In addition to the tower, AT&T plans to also build a structure at ground level to house equipment, and an access road from Good Hope Road to the interior of the property. The property is a wooded lot between Briggs Chaney Road and Windmill Lane, and behind homes on Lear Lane and Goth Lane.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Permits being pulled for Discovery building renovation in Silver Spring

The actual work of renovating the vacant former home of Discovery Communications in downtown Silver Spring is about to begin in earnest. New landlord Foulger Pratt has formally requested permits from Montgomery County for demolition and construction at the property, which is located at 1 Discovery Place. This set of permits includes interior alterations to the lobby, an addition, a fitness center, and demolition inside a cafe. Discovery relocated the bulk of operations here to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2018.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

White Oak man missing

Montgomery County police are asking the public's help in locating a missing White Oak man. Melvin Dowling, 76, hasn't been seen since leaving the Cadia Healthcare facility at 12325 New Hampshire Avenue on July 2 around 6:30 PM. Detectives believe he may be trying to reach Washington, D.C.

Dowling is described by police as an African American male, about 6’2” tall, and weighing 185 pounds.  He is bald and has brown eyes.

Anyone with information in reference to the whereabouts of Melvin Dowling is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24 hours).  Callers may remain anonymous.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Developer files for construction permits for Ripley II in Silver Spring

The Ripley District has been a hot spot in the most-recent phase of the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring. It's about to heat up again. Washington Property Company has filed with Montgomery County for construction permits for its Ripley II project.

A 27-story apartment tower, it gained extra height from the County by promising a "niche" grocery store. Ripley II will be located at 8210 Dixon Avenue.

Rendering courtesy Washington Property Company