Friday, January 31, 2020

All East County Metro Red Line stations to close this weekend

This weekend will be terrible for Metro riders in the East County. Every Red Line Metro subway station between and including Glenmont and Takoma Park will be closed Saturday, February 1, 2020 and Sunday, February 2.

Two free shuttle buses will operate all weekend during the closure. One will run between Glenmont and Fort Totten in the District. This bus will not stop at the Takoma Park station; it will stop at Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen and Silver Spring stations.

A second bus will run exclusively between Silver Spring and Takoma Park stations. For more details, see the WMATA website.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ana G. Méndez University opens new Silver Spring "campus"

Ana G. Méndez University has moved its Montgomery County campus from Wheaton Plaza to downtown Silver Spring. It is located in the former Discovery Channel headquarters building at 1 Discovery Place. After the County's anti-business policies and moribund economy - along with the County Council's failure to even negotiate to retain Discovery - led Discovery to relocate to greener pastures in Knoxville, Tennessee, their empty HQ has been rebranded as Inventa Towers.
Ana G. Méndez is calling the new location their "Capital Area Campus." This is a loss for businesses such as nearby restaurants in Wheaton where students would eat, but does put the college in a proximity to more current and potential students at the new location. Of course, the loss for Wheaton restaurants becomes a gain for downtown Silver Spring eateries.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

MoCo selecting vendor for Route 29 BRT digital information kiosks

Smart City Media digital kiosk
at Kansas City, Missouri
Streetcar station
Montgomery County is nearing a contract with a New York "internet of things" firm in the bidding for who will provide "digital information kiosks" for the future Route 29 Bus Rapid Transit stations. According to County documents, the potential winning bid is from Smart City Media, LLC.

If chosen, SCM will provide an Interactive Digital Information Kiosk at each station along the U.S. 29 "Flash" BRT stations. Under the contract offer, Montgomery County would receive 25% of the net revenues from advertising and information shown by the kiosks. It would be a 5-year contract, with two options for additional 5-year extensions, if approved by SCM and the County Council.

SCM says it has around 30 similar contracts with cities, towns and transit agencies across the country, including Kansas City, Missouri; Harrisburg; Dallas' DART system; and Memphis. In Kansas City, for example, kiosks feature large screens with touchscreen capability. Montgomery County is set to make a decision on the contract after the close of business on February 10, 2020.

Photo courtesy Smart City Media, LLC

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Wheaton Gateway developers warn jaywalkers about safety, potential tickets at site

The developers of the Wheaton Gateway project on the site of the former Howard Johnson/Ambassador Apartments are asking pedestrians to obey the current detour in place around the property at the corner of Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard West. They say that flaggers will be added at the site to assist in directing vehicles and pedestrians before the end of the month, as well as other "safety enhancements." But they also warn that police may ticket pedestrians who enter the roadway to get around the closed sidewalk.
Ambassador pedestrian detour
This has been an ongoing issue when sidewalks have closed in downtown Bethesda, and no pedestrian walkway is provided. Despite the dangers, some people will inevitably walk into oncoming traffic to avoid a long detour. Pedestrian safety advocates have asked Montgomery County officials to either bar sidewalks from being closed, or mandate pedestrian walkways on the side of the closure, to address this problem.

Photo/map via Wheaton Gateway

Monday, January 27, 2020

Bar Louie closes Wheaton, Rockville locations as MoCo nightlife continues to tank

Just as nightlife in booming Washington, D.C. expands into new corners of the District, it continues to tank spectacularly in moribund Montgomery County. Bar Louie has closed in Rockville Town Square. As if that wasn't enough, Bar Louie also closed its newer location at Wheaton Plaza, which was in a very modern and new structure with prime proximity to the AMC Wheaton 9 cineplex. "Thanks for all the memories," read signs in the windows.
Having been at Rockville Town Square for many years, the closure reflects the drastic downturn the county has taken over the past decade, as the Montgomery County political cartel has seized all nine seats on the County Council. The fact that the Wheaton location exited the same weekend indicates that this was more than just the ongoing struggles at Federal Realty's Rockville Town Square, which has seen a mass exodus of many of its key tenants in recent years.
Montgomery County is in real trouble, folks. County revenue, not surprisingly, is severely declining with the failing economy and flight of the rich to lower-tax jurisdictions in the region. Nightlife took a catastrophic blow from the Council's disastrous "nighttime economy task force" debacle, which resulted in the closure of 18 nightspots in Bethesda alone, and was capped by several new Council policies that hit the bottom line of hospitality businesses hard. Not to mention the Council preserving and beefing up the County government liquor monopoly, instead of ending it as bar and restaurant owners have begged them to do for years.

More liquor money for Virginia and D.C. We're being led by very stupid people, folks.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Temporary closure on ICC this weekend

Traffic alert: There will be a temporary closure along the ICC this weekend, as the Maryland Transportation Authority begins replacing the electronic tolling gantries with newer, updated ones. Closures are expected between January 24 and 27, 2020 and again next weekend. Follow the detours below this weekend and next.

Beginning at 9:00 PM tonight, Friday, January 24, and continuing until 5:00 AM on Monday, January 27, westbound traffic on the ICC/MD 200 will be detoured at New Hampshire Avenue (MD 650). The detour route will direct motorists north on New Hampshire Avenue to Norbeck Road, west to Layhill Road (MD 182) ,and south on Layhill Road back to westbound ICC/MD 200.

The following weekend, from 9:00 PM Friday, January 31, until 5:00 AM on Monday, February 3, eastbound ICC/MD 200 traffic will be detoured at Layhill Road (MD 182). The detour route will direct motorists north on Layhill Road to Norbeck Road, east on Norbeck Road to New Hampshire Avenue (MD 650) and south on New Hampshire Avenue back to eastbound ICC/MD 200.

Photo via MDTA

Colesville Road to close tonight for weekend between EW Hwy & Wayne Ave. in Silver Spring

Traffic alert: A section of Colesville Road between East-West Highway and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring will close tonight, Friday, January 24, 2020 at 8:00 PM. It will not reopen until Monday morning, January 27 at 6:00 AM. The closure is due to Purple Line-related construction.

Drivers are being detoured onto 16th Street, Spring Street, East-West Highway and Georgia Avenue (see the above map). Similar weekend closures will be employed as needed through the end of April, according to Purple Line Transit Partners.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Purple Line work going full steam in Silver Spring (Video+Photos)

The foundations for the eventual elevated Purple Line track at the Silver Spring Transit Center continue to take shape. As work has intensified, several bus stops have been relocated. See the sign below (or in-person) to find the new, temporary location of your stop, if it was impacted.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Montgomery County fumbles Eli Lilly factory to North Carolina

Indianapolis residents now know what it feels like to live in Montgomery County. Just as moribund MoCo can't get one of its few remaining major companies - Lockheed - to locate its manufacturing facilities here, neither could Indy get hometown pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to build its new manufacturing facility in the Hoosier capital. Lilly is looking south instead, choosing Durham County, North Carolina's booming Research Triangle Park.

"We continue to grow North Carolina into a worldwide hub for the biotechnology industry," a jubilant North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said in a statement Tuesday.

Biotech and hospitality are the only two economic sectors in Montgomery County that even have a pulse these days, thanks to decisions made by wiser County leaders prior to the Montgomery County political cartel's seizure of the County Council in 2002 (today, the cartel controls all nine Council seats). But just days after the Washington Post reported once again that Montgomery County has fallen behind Prince George's County in job creation (while failing to report MoCo was also behind every other county in the region over the last decade in that department), Montgomery County's elected officials weren't able to score the biggest biotech get of the year so far - the Eli Lilly factory.

Not only did the County Council and economic development officials make no public campaign to attract Lilly, but their fumble also emphasizes how our inept leaders are squandering the biotech advantages their smarter, less corrupt predecessors left them at the turn of the century. North Carolina is catching up, as is Virginia. As MoCo officials continue to drop balls left and right, those and other states will soon surpass us.

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland correctly noted Tuesday that, "North Carolina is one of the nation’s leading centers for innovation in the life sciences." They also have two other things we don't: A friendly business climate, and superior infrastructure.

The Tar Heel state has the Research Triangle Park. Montgomery County was supposed to have a "Science City" in the I-270 corridor. Remember that?

Montgomery County elected officials couldn't even get that done. Of course, they never intended to. "Science City" was a total ruse perpetrated by the Council, and their developer sugar daddies, a decade ago. Sold to you as something like North Carolina's biotech park, that fakeout was merely a Trojan horse for more residential development.

Remember how Clarksburg, Germantown and Shady Grove were going to be booming job centers, with a Corridor Cities Transitway and expanded MARC service? None of that ever happened.

But - the housing all got built.

Jobs continued to divert to Northern Virginia, and I-270 just got more congested with all of the new housing approved by the Council without any new transportation infrastructure to support it. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Now, standing amidst the ashes of a "Science City" ghost town surrounded by stack-and-pack Soviet-style apartment blocs, the Council is saying the whole problem is...there wasn't enough housing built. LOL. [Insert cuckoo clock sound here].

You can't make this stuff up, folks.

What did we lose this week as a result?

462 new pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs, with an average salary above $72,000. 462 jobs are just a drop in the bucket given how stagnant and shrinking Montgomery County's economy is, but we're not in a position to pass any up in such a crisis. We should be, but are not, actively pursuing aerospace, biotech, and defense corporate headquarters, and their related research and manufacturing facilities.

North Carolina's Research Triangle Park's motto is, "Inspiring Bold Ideas."

The Montgomery County Council's is, "Lining our pockets with developer cash."

Our County's should be, "The Bedroom Community for the Booming Job Centers Elsewhere in Our Region."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Kensington 7-Eleven for sale

The 7-Eleven at 10594 Metropolitan Avenue in Kensington is for sale. It's very unlikely to close, because only the 7-Eleven business is up for sale, not the building itself. The asking price is $150,000, which does not include the 7-Eleven franchising fee, according to an online listing. As to why it is for sale, the owner says he is ready to retire.

Armed robbery near The Ambassador in Wheaton

An armed robbery in the 11200 block of Veirs Mill Road in Wheaton was reported to Montgomery County police at 7:13 AM Sunday, according to crime data. The weapon used was a gun. This is in the vicinity of The Ambassador teardown site, and Lindsay Ford.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Takoma Park teen missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing Takoma Park teenager. Sarela Nely Lanza, 14, hasn't been seen by her family since she left her Garland Avenue home on foot around 6:00 AM on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Police describe Lanza as around 5″6″ tall and weighing 135 pounds. She has red hair and brown eyes.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Sarela Nely Lanza 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).

Friday, January 17, 2020

Ellsworth Place adding new indoor children's play area in Silver Spring

Silver Spring parents will soon have a new option for climate-controlled playgrounds. Ellsworth Place is constructing a new indoor children's play area. This will be perfect for the long cold winter and hot summer ahead, and a way to work off the energy generated by the many sweet treats one might consume at the mall before heading home. Ellsworth Place says the new playground should open next month.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wheaton Plaza to celebrate Chinese New Year January 25, 2020

Wheaton Plaza is decked out with lanterns for the Chinese New Year, which falls on January 25 in 2020. Stop by that day to welcome the Year of the Rat, and meet Hua Mulan (not the Disney princess, but the historical figure). There will be Instagram-ready photo opportunities with dragon and Chinese fan props, free candy and more giveaways.

The event will be held from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM on Saturday, January 25, 2020 in the Upper Level Center Court area. You can RSVP online now.

But, wait, there's more!

Vovinam of Maryland will hold a martial arts exhibition from 1:30-2:30 PM following the Hua Mulan appearance.

Hollywood East Cafe will host a Lion Dance parade from 3:00-3:30 PM, starting at the restaurant, but ending at the same Upper Level Center Court as the earlier event.

To get ready for the big day, MAC Cosmetics at Macy's and Sephora (inside JCPenney) are featuring special Chinese New Year cosmetics on Thursday, January 16 and Friday, January 17.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Fresh coat of paint brightening up Downtown Silver Spring

An extensive makeover continues at Downtown Silver Spring. The Peterson Cos. property is now brightening things up with vibrant, sharp colors. Signs warn of Wet Paint, but the new shades pop, especially at night. The new colors remind me of parts of Peterson's other big MoCo property, Rio Lakefront in Gaithersburg, which just underwent its own multimillion-dollar renovation. I recommend celebrating the new look with a scrumptious CAVA meatball!