Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Moe's Southwest Grill opens at Wheaton Plaza (Photos+Menu)

Wonderful news from Wheaton Plaza. Moe's Southwest Grill has opened in the food court. This is the only Moe's location in Montgomery County. Everything looks, sounds and smells so good. I not only got some pictures, but also the menu (see below).

Monday, December 30, 2019

Starbucks pop-up party in Olney today

The Olney Starbucks at 3126 Olney Sandy Spring Road is one of only four locations in Maryland that will host a pop-up party today. Stop by between 1:00 and 2:00 PM today for festive fun and a free, tall handcrafted espresso drink. Sounds good to me!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Macy's Backstage coming to Wheaton Plaza

Montgomery County is getting a second Macy's Backstage store. The new one will be at Wheaton Plaza. Unlike the early Macy's Backstage concept, most are now inside of existing Macy's stores. Macy's Backstage is an outlet store that sells only discounted merchandise.

Merchandise at Macy's Backstage includes a large number of items that full-size Macy's stores don't carry, combined with the overstock inventory of items Macy's does sell. Product categories include apparel, housewares, home textiles and decor, cosmetics, hair and nail care, gifts, jewelry, shoes, designer handbags, accessories and activewear.

"Our customers are thrilled about the Macy’s Backstage shopping experience," Macy's Senior Vice-President Michelle Israel said in a statement. "Macy’s Backstage brings great deals, the thrill of the hunt and fun into our existing Macy’s locations." Another great addition to Wheaton Plaza!

Sligo Creek Trail detour set to begin January 3

The latest recreational trail detour related to construction of the Purple Line is scheduled to begin on or about January 3, 2020. A segment of the Sligo Creek Trail will temporarily close for about a month between Wayne Avenue and a point just north of the Sligo Cabin Playground. See the above map provided by Purple Line Transit Partners for the official detour around the closure.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merrimac Drive to close at University Boulevard for Purple Line construction

Merrimac Drive will be closed off at University Boulevard for Purple Line-related construction work later this month, according to Purple Line Transit Partners. The closure is currently scheduled to begin on or about January 24, 2019, and last for about three weeks. A detour, shown in the above map provided by PLTP, will be in place to allow access to Merrimac via New Hampshire Avenue.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hogan follows Trump in creating new Christmas Eve holiday

Days after President Donald Trump surprised federal workers with a new holiday designation for Christmas Eve, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan provided the same Christmas Eve bonus to state workers. Today, December 24, 2019, is now an official state holiday. Maryland state government agencies and offices will be closed today in observance of Christmas Eve.
“I am declaring Christmas Eve a state holiday this year to give our dedicated employees more time to spend with their families and loved ones,” Hogan said in a statement. “We hope that our hardworking state workers, and all Marylanders, have a merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season.”

Interesting trivia: The last president to give federal workers a full holiday on Christmas Eve was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Westbound Bonifant Street lane closure postponed in Silver Spring

A planned lane closure on westbound Bonifant Street for Purple Line-related construction has been postponed. Originally expected to begin this past weekend, the closure has now been rescheduled for January 6. 2020. The closure will impact westbound Bonifant Street between Ramsey Avenue and Georgia Avenue.
The closure is expected to last about three months. Purple Line Transit Partners did not give a reason for the delay, one of several recent work postponements on the light rail project.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Germantown man arrested for stolen handgun in Glenmont

Montgomery County police arrested a Germantown man during a traffic stop in Glenmont, when they allegedly discovered he possessed a gun stolen from North Carolina on December 17. Dayvon M. Irving, 25, of the 18700 block of White Sands Drive, has been charged with firearm-related offenses, drug-related offenses, and credit card fraud related-offenses.

Irving was also allegedly carrying a credit card reader skimming device and fraudulent credit cards. An officer detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle, as well, police say. Irving is being held without bond.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Alleged Silver Spring gang member charged in murder of D.C. teen

Montgomery County police have arrested four suspects in the homicide of 19-year-old Sara Gutierrez-Villatoro. Gutierrez-Villatoro was found deceased in a wooded area off 25700 block of Old Hundred Road in Dickerson on November 29. All four suspects arrested are associated with the 18th Street gang, detectives said. All have been charged with 1st Degree Murder.

The three men and one juvenile arrested Tuesday were:

Jonathan Josue RIVERA-ESCOBAR, age 19, of Silver Spring

Geovany A DOMINGUEZ-ESCOBAR, age 24, of Washington, DC

Jordan Ryan MORENO, age 21, of Washington, DC

Rigoberto MACHADO, age 16, of Washington, DC  (Juvenile – Charged as Adult)

The investigation of this homicide is ongoing, detectives said. They are urging anyone who may have information regarding this murder to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.  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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Montgomery County stagnant or getting worse in all key areas, residents say

Montgomery County's elected officials haven't improved any major area of concern or crisis, residents say in a new County-operated survey. Vast majorities countywide say there has been no progress or improvement in the moribund County economy, Montgomery County Public Schools, traffic congestion, crime and public safety, quality of life or the environment in the last two years.
86% of residents say there has been no improvement in availability of affordable housing. 76% feel there has been no improvement in crime prevention and public safety. A whopping 87% found no improvement in traffic congestion over the last two years. In fact, it's getting worse.
63% of residents say there has been no improvement in MCPS, which has declined steadily over this decade, as test scores and graduation rates plummeted and an achievement gap worsened. Yep, that's getting worse, too. But rather than improve failing schools, the corrupt MoCo cartel is trying to ready a forced busing strategy that failed nationwide decades ago, and is preemptively calling those who favor neighborhood schools "racists" and "white supremacists" - terms regularly deployed as the nuclear option when one has lost a debate on the facts.
Montgomery County's stagnant economy reached rock bottom in the region this decade, and residents' opinions squarely reflect that reality. A powerful 69% of residents say there has been no improvement in job growth. 61% report no improvement in business growth. Montgomery County ranked at the bottom in the region on both measurements this decade.
Progressive and green Montgomery County is leading the nation in environmental policy, our elected officials assure us weekly. Mmm...not so much, counter Montgomery County residents. 68% of residents say the environment hasn't improved, or has gotten worse, since 2017. 66% responded that quality of life opportunities in the county - the arts, culture, recreation and libraries - have either not improved or have gotten worse.

Majority in East MoCo say county government is dishonest

56% say MoCo moving in 
wrong direction

Montgomery County officials, as usual, patted themselves on the back with a glowing summary of its annual survey of residents. Alas, when one examines the specifics, the picture is nowhere near as rosy as our elected officials would have us believe. The opinion of East County residents hardly shows a community thrilled with Montgomery County's current leadership.

Residents in eastern Montgomery County continue to be displeased with Montgomery County's elected officials. A majority of those surveyed say the County government is dishonest. 53% report that they have no confidence in the County government. And 56% believe Montgomery County is currently headed in the wrong direction.

More than half of the residents surveyed (55%) say the County treats them unfairly. A whopping 67% feel that their participation in County government - public meetings, legislative process - is not welcomed by County officials. 63% say they are not getting the public services they deserve for the high taxes they pay. Only half of east county residents said they feel a "sense of community" in their neighborhoods.

None of this is particularly surprising, given our elected officials' pronounced neglect of economic development, transportation and schools in the eastern part of the county. But it's certainly not something to celebrate. Rather, it's time for our elected officials to stop grandstanding on minor divisive issues and get down to work on the People's business, a failing transportation system, a moribund County economy, and a decade-worth of decline in Montgomery County Public Schools.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Ambassador a,k.a. Howard Johnson/Best Western Wheaton demolition update (Photos)

You can now see into the structure of the upper floors of the former Howard Johnson hotel at 2715 University Boulevard West in Wheaton. More recently, it was the Best Western hotel, and then the Ambassador Apartments. There are still exterior walls on the center rooms of the upper floors, and around all the floors below those. I don't believe there are currently plans to demolish the former restaurant building at the corner of the property, which has been converted to a retail use. The demolition is scheduled to continue through the spring.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Fuddruckers closed in Silver Spring

Fuddruckers at 819 Ellsworth Drive closed permanently at the close of business yesterday. The closure follows the demise of the chain's Rockville location earlier this year. To find a Fuddruckers now, you'll have to drive from moribund Montgomery County to the more business-friendly boomtowns of Ashburn and Woodbridge in Virginia. Notably, the restaurant lasted 16 years before closing, indicating the county's economic nosedive is to blame.

Spice Street to open in downtown Silver Spring

A new Indian restaurant is coming to downtown Silver Spring. Spice Street Innovative Indian Cuisine will open in the ground floor of the Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue apartment tower in 2020. Construction has not yet begun inside, but this will be an especially nice addition for folks living upstairs in the Solaire. An HSBC bank branch recently opened in the ground floor, as well.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Route 29 BRT platforms taking shape (Photos)

Bus Rapid Transit station platforms are beginning to appear along the route of the future Route 29 BRT line. Concrete platforms have been poured for four of the stations so far, including Burtonsville, Briggs Chaney and Tech Road. Asphalt has also been poured for a shared-use path at the Castle Boulevard station.

An earlier stage of concrete pouring at
the Burtonsville Park & Ride station site
Photos courtesy Montgomery County Department of Transportation's Division of Traffic Engineering 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

HSBC Bank opens at Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue

The new HSBC bank branch in downtown Silver Spring has opened. It is in the ground floor of the new Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue apartment tower.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Lane shift on Piney Branch Rd. to begin in January

Purple Line Transit Partners has announced that the eastbound lanes of Piney Branch Road in the Long Branch area will shift northward on, or about, January 13, 2020. This is to allow for Purple Line-related construction.

Two lanes will remain open in each direction despite the shift. The lanes will remain in the temporary position for at least one year, so this will be an ongoing issue.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The end is nigh for Forever 21 in Silver Spring

Here are some final scenes from Forever 21 at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring. The "store closing" and "Everything Must Go!" signs are now ubiquitous in businesses across Montgomery County, where signs of the long-moribund economy increase by the day. Customers have been grabbing deals while they are available, which has been a grim upside for fashionistas countywide. Fortunately, Ellsworth Place has acquired a large tenant list of name brand fashion outlets, and should be able to weather this one closure with Burlington, Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx, among others.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Bus stop changes at Silver Spring Transit Center postponed until January

A set of temporary bus stop relocations around the Silver Spring Transit Center planned for this month have been postponed until January. The stops were to be moved for Purple Line construction work at the site. Montgomery County spokesperson Neil Greenberger says the County Department of Transportation will release detailed information on the temporary stop sites ahead of the January relocations.

Despite the delay, for which no explanation was given, equipment continues to arrive and preparations be made at the transit center site, including erection of what appear to be the supports for the elevated light rail track. Here's a look around the property.