Thursday, October 31, 2019

MoCo misses out on Mitsubishi HQ, relocation expert cites importance of airport access

Montgomery County hasn't attracted a single major corporate headquarters in over twenty years, and Mitsubishi North America won't break that humiliating streak of failure. The Japanese industrial giant's U.S. headquarters has been in sunny California since 1988. After a nationwide search, they've chosen Franklin, Tennessee.

"I’m proud Mitsubishi Motors will call Franklin its U.S. home, and bring 200 high-quality jobs to Middle Tennessee," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a press release announcing the victory. The press release notes that corporate headquarters jobs have grown by 37% in Tennessee since 2013. "Mitsubishi Motors’ decision to relocate its U.S. headquarters from California to Franklin underscores Tennessee’s growing profile as a hub for U.S. and international companies," Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Chair Bob Rolfe said. "Tennessee will continue to actively recruit quality headquarters jobs from higher-cost coastal states, and we are honored Mitsubishi will make this significant investment in Williamson County.”

This is just the latest major corporate HQ contest the Montgomery County Council and economic development officials have either lost, or simply dozed through without even making a bid. One ongoing disadvantage Montgomery has, besides its national reputation as a business-unfriendly jurisdiction with high taxes, is its lack of direct access to Dulles International Airport.

We could have had direct access by now, had our elected officials not canceled the long-planned Potomac River crossing to the Dulles area. John Boyd of corporate relocation firm The Boyd Company reaffirmed the importance of such access in recent comments about Sherwin Williams dissatisfaction with their current Cleveland HQ location, that has spurred them to begin a relocation search.

Boyd's analysis was reported by Cleveland's Fox 8 as follows:

He said air transit is a key factor in site selection. As Cleveland vies to keep the company that employs more than 33,000 people worldwide, Boyd said the region's lack of non-stop flights to markets around the globe is its biggest hurdle.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was ranked second-worst among 16 similar-sized airports in the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. The airport has commissioned a firm to create a new master plan for upgrades.

"Every time there's a major trophy headquarters project, you always think about the usual suspects: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston. Cities with major gateway airports," Boyd said.

Dulles is unmatched in our region for the frequency of flights and variety of international business destinations. It would be so simple to eliminate this major obstacle to economic growth by merely greenlighting the new bridge to Dulles. The Council's stubborn refusal to do so speaks volumes about their radical, fringe ideology, and total lack of competence.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Silver Spring construction update: The Fenton (Photos)

The Fenton Silver Spring Apartments project website is down this morning, but the progress continues at the construction site, located at 8240 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring. Apartments were due to begin leasing soon. You can see the retail space is being worked on along the ground floor.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Amherst Garage 45 washdown scheduled for November 2-3 in Wheaton

Montgomery County has scheduled a washdown for the Amherst Garage 45 at 11304 Amherst Avenue in Wheaton this weekend, November 2-3, 2019. Be advised that parts of the garage, or the entire garage, may close as necessary during this cleaning.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Popeyes chicken sandwich returning November 3

Popeyes has announced the return of its "sold-out" chicken sandwich. The sandwich will be available starting November 3, 2019. Popeyes intentionally chose a Sunday to bring back the chicken sandwich to emphasize that chicken sandwich king and arch competitor Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, likely in hopes of reigniting the chains' Twitter feud for publicity purposes.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wheaton Lot 13 project 77% complete

Montgomery County officials say the government office building project at Wheaton's public parking Lot 13 is 77% complete. Rooftop mechanicals have been hoisted up to the penthouse level for installation. Reedie Drive has been converted to a one-way westbound street, and glass has been installed in the ground floor retail space, which is available for lease.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Aspen Hill teen missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing Aspen Hill teenager. Asucenia Martinez Benitez, 13, hasn't been seen since leaving her Arctic Avenue home on foot around 7:30 AM, on Monday, October 21.

Benitez is a Latina, 5' tall and weighs around 100 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. Benitez was wearing a black and white checkered jacket, blue jeans, a black hat, and black sneakers when she disappeared.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Asucenia Martinez Benitez 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, October 23, 2019

Passion Bakery Cafe opens in Silver Spring

Passion Bakery Cafe has opened in the Aspen Hill/Bel Pre area of Silver Spring, in the Plaza del Mercado shopping center. The owners, brothers Melvin and Huber Mendoza, are veterans of the Watergate Pastry shop in the elite Watergate in Washington, D.C. “The American Dream became a reality for the Mendoza family,” Melvin Mendoza said Tuesday. “We are proud to offer our loyal customers the finest pastries, cakes along with our exceptional service.”

The 1200 SF cafe is located near Advance Auto Parts and the Bel Pre Barber Shop. This is the third location for Passion Bakery Cafe in the area; the brothers have existing locations in Sandy Spring and Beltsville.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Las Americas Supermarket opens in Wheaton

Las Americas Supermarket has opened at 2404 University Boulevard W. in Wheaton. The shelves are stocked with a colorful assortment of groceries. Even the shopping carts are in place inside the door. Get ready for a supermarket sweep at Las Americas Supermarket, a great addition to Wheaton.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Moe's Southwest Grill coming to Wheaton Plaza

Montgomery County is a bizarro-land in regards to chain restaurants. Aside from a lack of variety in fast food establishments, MoCo is missing some of the most-popular sit-down dining chains ubiquitous everywhere outside its borders. Wheaton Plaza almost managed to end the totally-insane and inexplicable Montgomery County Olive Garden drought, until the deal fell through a few years ago. Then it tried, and - alas - failed, to bring us a Tilted Kilt. Mall owner Westfield must be hoping the third time is the charm, as they now are promising Moe's Southwest Grill.
No longer will the culinary delights of Moe's be exclusive to residents of D.C., Virginia, and assorted Maryland exurbs. Tex-Mex by way of Atlanta will be your birthright, as well, at Moe's in the food court at Wheaton Plaza. Moe's Famous Queso, and made-in-house salsas and pico de gallo, are finally coming to Montgomery County.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Police looking for suspected Silver Spring double burglar

Montgomery County police are searching for a suspect they believe burglarized two offices in downtown Silver Spring. Both occurred on September 17. He allegedly tried - and failed - to break into the offices of National Ready-Mixed Concrete at 900 Spring Street at 12:15 AM. Next, he broke-and-entered into the Children's Hospital Foundation office at 801 Roeder Street around 1:27 AM. He was successful there, and fled with stolen property.

Police have released a surveillance video of the suspect.

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or these crimes 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 that leads to an arrest in this case.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Arlington affordable housing organization goes regional with Silver Spring acquistion

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, a non-profit providing affordable living for residents of that Northern Virginia county for 30 years, has announced it will become a regional organization. Its first move in that direction is its acquisition of Snowden's Ridge, a 13-building Section 8 housing complex developed in 1980 on Harlequin Terrace, in the Fairland area of Silver Spring.

APAH was able to acquire the complex through a financing partnership with Montgomery County and Atlantic Union Bank. They purchased the property for $18.5 million with an acquisition loan from the bank, and a $2.75 million loan from Montgomery County. The deal will ensure the current residents will be able to continue to afford to live there.

County Executive Marc Elrich lauded the deal in a statement yesterday. “Snowden Ridge is home to workers, seniors and families who are an essential part of our community," Elrich said. We were happy to work with APAH to ensure that these families can stay in their homes – and in Montgomery County.”

APAH says it plans to renovate the property, and institute programs to benefit the residents. One of the strongest points of Snowden's Ridge is that the majority of its units are 3-bedroom. Such larger units are the most-needed for families who require affordable housing, and are the least often built by developers as MPDUs.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Montgomery County officer shooting was self-inflicted, coroner rules

An already-tragic story took a sadder turn Tuesday, as the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, D.C. declared the gunshot wound that caused the death of Montgomery County police officer Thomas J. Bomba was self-inflicted. Bomba was found wounded on the rooftop of a downtown Silver Spring garage Monday morning by colleagues, who were responding as backup to Bomba's earlier report of disorderly conduct he said was investigating in that garage.

Bomba's body camera was not activated during the shooting, police said. They did not indicate if the camera was active at any point prior to the shooting incident Monday morning. However, the police department announced it will conduct an "exhaustive investigation" of Bomba's death. No memorial service details have been announced as of this writing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Montgomery County police officer dies from gunshot wound in Silver Spring garage

Montgomery County police have identified the officer killed in a downtown Silver Spring parking garage shooting as 13-year veteran and Gaithersburg resident Thomas J. Bomba, 38, who was assigned to the 3rd District. Bomba is survived by his wife and two children. He passed away at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, after being shot around 8:49 AM Monday morning in the garage at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street.

Bomba had radioed the police dispatcher that he was responding to a disorderly conduct call in the garage. The first officer to arrive as backup found Bomba suffering from a gunshot wound on the top level of the garage.

Police have not publicly released any leads, suspect descriptions or details about the shooting incident. They have only stated that the public is not in immediate danger.
Montgomery County Council places anti-police legislation
announcement directly above their statement on officer death
"Our hearts are hurting today. Officer Bomba is a hero," the Montgomery County Council said in a press release commenting on the shooting. Gone unsaid in that press release, and in media coverage, is the fact that the Council has spent the last ten months attacking, defaming and slandering the men and women of MCPD, which is arguably the finest and most-professional police department in the country. In fact, the Council had the audacity to post a press release announcing yet another anti-police bill directly above their statement on yesterday's shooting! Truly disgusting. Shameful.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Montgomery County police officer shot in downtown Silver Spring, shooter at-large

UPDATE: Police say the incident began with a "disorderly subject' in a Silver Spring parking garage around 8:49 AM. Officer called for backup, and officer responding found the first officer suffering from a gunshot wound.

The Montgomery County police department has confirmed that a County police officer was shot this morning in downtown Silver Spring. Who shot the officer, who is being taken to Medstar Washington Hospital Center, is currently unknown. No suspects have been identified publicly yet, and the shooter or shooters remain at-large.

Police first reported the shooting in the vicinity of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street around 9:10 AM this morning. There is, understandably, heavy police activity in downtown Silver Spring at this hour. Expect potential road closures along Fenton Street at Wayne Avenue, Cedar Street at Wayne Avenue, and Georgia Avenue at both Spring Street and near the Beltway interchange.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Armed man arrested in Silver Spring assault & burglary

Montgomery County police arrested a suspect in a White Oak assault and burglary case, that stemmed from a domestic incident on October 4. The suspect, Foday Gassama, 28, of Purple Mountain Lane in Gaithersburg, was spotted by officers in White Oak on Lockwood Drive on October 8.

After a brief foot chase, Gassama was taken into custody. When officers searched him, they allegedly found a loaded handgun with an obliterated serial number. He has now been charged with possession of a loaded handgun on his person, obliterating a serial number on a firearm, and the prohibited possession of a firearm due to a previous criminal conviction.
Handgun and clip officers found
on Gassama's person after pursuit
in White Oak
Prior convictions make Gassama ineligible to legally possess a firearm, detectives said. He is being held without bond at the County detention center.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Man attacks 3 women at Wheaton Plaza (Video+Photo)

Montgomery County police are searching for a man who allegedly assaulted three female employees inside Brow Art 23 on Tuesday, October 1 at Wheaton Plaza. Detectives say the man entered the salon around 1:00 PM, and struck up a conversation with two female employees at the counter. He then allegedly physically forced the women into a back room, where a third female employee was working.

After struggling with the suspect, the three women were eventually able to flee from the store and call police. The suspect then fled Wheaton Plaza. Detectives have just released surveillance video of the suspect in the hope that the public can help identify and locate him.
Suspect (just out of camera range
at left) grabs employee's shirt as she
tries to escape
Police describe the alleged assailant as an African American male around 6' tall, with a medium build, dark skin, and a full beard and mustache.  The suspect was wearing a black baseball cap with a white skull printed on it, a black jacket over a white shirt, black jogging pants, and gray shoes.  For unknown reasons, the suspect was also carrying a pair of brown shoes at the time of the assault.

Anyone with information regarding this suspect is asked to call the 4th District Investigative Section 240-773-5530. 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 that leads to an arrest in this case.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Silver Spring woman missing

Montgomery County police are trying to locate another missing East MoCo resident. Nashea Duffin was last seen around 12:00 PM on October 7th in the 600 block of University Blvd E. Duffin is described by police as a Latina, 24, 5’02” tall, and weighing about 180 lbs. Detectives did not have a description of what Duffin was wearing when she was last seen.

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Burtonsville man missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing Burtonsville man. Arthur Junior Gonzalez, 28, is Latino, 5’06” tall, and about 140 lbs.  He has black hair, brown eyes, a mustache and a goatee. Detectives did not have a description of the clothing Gonzalez wore when he was last seen.

Gonzalez also has teardrop tattoos below each of his eyes, a spiderweb tattoo on the back of his left hand, and ring tattoos on two of his left hand fingers. He was last seen at his family’s home in the 3100 block of Spencerville Road, and is known to frequent the Burtonsville Town Square Shopping Center.

Anyone who has information regarding Arthur Junior Gonzalez’s whereabouts is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000 (available 24/7).

Monday, October 7, 2019

Downtown Silver Spring mural completed (Photos)

The new mural on Ellsworth Drive at Downtown Silver Spring is now complete. According to property owner Peterson Cos., the mural was the handiwork of design agency and production company No Kings Collective, and artist James Bullough - who spent several days painting in on-site.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Nighttime paving work on New Hampshire Ave. in Colesville

New Hampshire Avenue will be milled and repaved by the new Gracious Retirement Living development on October 17 and 18, 2019. This is in the Colesville area of Silver Spring north of Notley Road and south of the ICC. The work will be performed overnight, between the hours of 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM, to avoid rush hour traffic disruption.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wheaton Lot 13 development retail now available for lease

Montgomery County is now marketing the ground-level retail space in its future government office building at Public Parking Lot 13 in the Wheaton Triangle. JLL is the leasing firm handling the space. Advertising materials show the 11337 SF retail space can be divided into three separate retail units, entirely leased by one tenant, or something in-between.

Images courtesy JLL

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Kaiser Permanente buys Vitro site in Aspen Hill

Kaiser Permanente has bought 10.4 acres of land at the former Vitro campus at 13900 Connecticut Avenue in Aspen Hill. The healthcare firm plans to construct a medical center, with a scheduled opening date of 2022. Kaiser's Mid-Atlantic division acquired the land earlier this year, after a proposed Ford dealership project fell through.

Kaiser says the new Aspen Hill medical center will relieve overcrowding at the firm's existing Kensington location just down the road on Connecticut Avenue. If approved by Montgomery County, this would be Kaiser's eighth facility in Montgomery County. It would also solidify a stinging defeat for the Montgomery County cartel, which had tried desperately to secure this site for a developer who would construct a mixed-use "town center" here, and a victory for Aspen Hill residents.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

New public art at Downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

A new mural is being completed at Downtown Silver Spring. It's about two stories tall, and located on an exterior wall next to the Regal Majestic Theatre.