Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Zinnia coming to Silver Spring

a restaurant and beer garden, is coming this summer to 9201 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. The property is the former Mrs. K's Tollhouse. Owner Chris Brown is also the owner of Takoma Beverage Company.

Brown has been aiming for a mid-July opening. A liquor license hearing for the new establishment is scheduled for July 1.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Soca Saturdays added to calendar at Islands Lounge in Wheaton

Soca Saturdays, a new weekly event at Islands Lounge in Wheaton, launched this past Saturday. Running from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM Saturday nights, the event welcomes female patrons without charge before 11:00 PM. Islands Lounge is located at 11300 Fern Street.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Two armed robberies in Takoma Park

Violent crime continues to spike across Montgomery County, with another barrage of armed carjackings in Silver Spring, and now two armed robberies in broad daylight in the City of Takoma Park. City police responded to armed robberies on June 26 and 27. 

The first was in the 7600 block of New Hampshire Avenue around 1:10 PM, according to crime data. Just a bit over 24 hours later, the second armed robbery occurred in the 1300 block of Holton Lane around 1:25 PM.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Armed carjacking in Silver Spring parking garage

Montgomery County police responded to yet another armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring on Wednesday night. The latest incident was reported at the Montgomery County public parking garage in the 800 block of Ellsworth Drive around 8:38 PM, according to crime data.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Silver Spring fireworks 2021

Montgomery County has canceled its government-funded public fireworks displays this year, making it an outlier among our neighbors Frederick and Howard counties, who are proceeding with theirs. The City of Rockville has also canceled its display, and City of Gaithersburg officials have postponed theirs. What is a traditionalist to do? If you are near any of these mostly-private fireworks displays, you may be able to enjoy a free show anyway (just don't trespass on private property).

Bethesda/Chevy Chase/Potomac

Chevy Chase Club - July 3, 2021/9:30 PM
Columbia Country Club - June 29/9:10 PM
Congressional Country Club - July 4/9:15 PM
Kenwood Golf & Country Club - June 30/9:15 PM

Poolesville (PUBLIC)

Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department at soccer fields on Hughes Road at Sugarland Road - July 4/Event begins 5:00 PM, fireworks "after dark"/Parking $5.00


Manor Country Club - July 1/9:30 PM
Norbeck Country Club - July 1/9:20 PM
Woodmont Country Club - June 26/9:30 PM

Silver Spring

Argyle Country Club - July 2/9:30 PM

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Affordable apartments proposed for Sligo Avenue in Silver Spring

A Rockville-based developer is proposing an all-affordable-unit apartment building for a site that would assemble 713, 715 and 719 Sligo Avenue in Silver Spring. This is across the street from The Corona apartments. The proposed building would house up to 102 apartments, an approximately 1535 square foot community outreach center, and private underground parking. It is currently described as the "Sligo Apartments," but that will likely change, given that an existing building in Takoma Park is already marketed under that branding.

!, 2 and 3-bedroom units would be made available to renters making 40-70% of the area's median income. A 6000 SF plaza will separate the building from the street. The plaza will be landscaped, with seating, trash receptacles, and street trees. Resident vehicle access to the garage entrance at the rear will come from a two-way driveway entered from Sligo Avenue.

The community outreach center would provide services to residents of the building, and to those living nearby in the neighborhood. It would assist residents on employment and business development matters, and helping immigrant parents better support their children's education in school. On weekend nights, it could be used for resident-planned activities scheduled in advance.

A private courtyard terrace would feature recreation space, seating, dining tables, an outdoor grill, a gazebo and plantings. Solar panels, bioretention stormwater management, and a vegetative roof are among the "green" features proposed for the development.

The Montgomery County Development Review Committee will consider the project's Concept Plan at its July 6, 2021 meeting. Give the developer credit for producing some very-detailed and fleshed-out renderings of the project, which you don't often get at this early stage in the development process. The developer applicant is Adam Stockmaster, and the architect who produced the renderings is Alan Miner of Frederick, Maryland.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Sake Japanese Steakhouse coming to Wheaton

Sake Japanese Steakhouse
is expanding to Wheaton. The restaurant will take over the former Bar Louie space at Westfield Wheaton Plaza mall. While the departure of the bar's nightlife was sad, this will certainly be a dining upgrade for mall shoppers and filmgoers at the adjacent AMC Wheaton 9 cineplex. Sake has existing locations in Glen Burnie and Woodbridge.

Photo courtesy Westfield

Monday, June 21, 2021

Quarry House Tavern reopens in Silver Spring

Quarry House Tavern
has returned to the basement at 8401 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Staff will be masked, but customers are not required to wear them. The tavern will be working at a reduced capacity at first, so that there can be a greater distance between tables. And the bar will be for seated customers only. Hours to start will be 4:00 PM to 1:00 AM seven days a week. 

Photo courtesy Quarry House Tavern

Friday, June 18, 2021

Downtown Silver Spring bank building for sale

The former Capital One branch at 8676 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring is for sale. It is definitely in the more traditional style of bank architecture, and sits next to a more impressive historic structure, Verizon's 8670 Georgia Avenue building. 

This is a high-visibility location, if not always the heaviest pedestrian traffic. It could be a redevelopment opportunity, as much or more so than a branch for another bank brand. Capital One has been closing mass numbers of branches in our region in recent times. One in Four Corners is about to become a Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins store.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Silver Spring Courtyard by Marriott to get exterior renovation

The exterior of the Courtyard by Marriott at 8506 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring will be freshened up in the coming months. A facade restoration is planned for the hotel. The sidewalks below will remain open, with a protective canopy to shield pedestrians.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Ellsworth Drive street mural completed at Downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

The artwork on the surface of Ellsworth Drive at Downtown Silver Spring has been completed. Closed to pedestrians, the block that runs through the Peterson Cos. development has tables for outdoor dining.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Jolly Shows Carnival returns to Wheaton June 16-27

After a year off for the pandemic lockdown, Jolly Shows' traveling carnival makes its triumphant return to Wheaton Plaza at 11160 Veirs Mill Road, starting tomorrow, June 16, 2021, and running through June 27. All of the sights, sounds and fair food aromas will be there, along with rides, games and concessions. You can save time by buying your tickets online in advance.

Monday, June 14, 2021

2 power outages in Colesville

Some Colesville residents are waking up in the dark this morning. There are two power outages in the neighborhood around Meadowood Park. Pepco says it has a crew on the site of one south of the park, and that power will be restored there by 11:00 AM. A second, smaller outage will be restored by noon, the utility reports.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins coming to Four Corners in Silver Spring

Dunkin' Donuts' rapid expansion in Montgomery County over the last decade has a donut hole that is about to be filled: Four Corners in Silver Spring. A joint Dunkin' Donuts-Baskin Robbins store will be taking over the Capital One bank branch building at 115 University Boulevard later this year. The bank structure includes a drive-thru, so let's hope this will be one of those great Dunkin' Donuts locations that has a drive-thru.

Montgomery County police union trolls elected officials on social media for defunding police amid crime wave

Montgomery County's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 criticized County elected officials on social media Thursday for "defunding MoCo police" amid a crime wave. The posts on Facebook and Twitter called out County Executive Marc Elrich and the County Council for eliminating 27 police officer positions in the budget. They also cited violent crimes in the county that made area headlines in the last few days.

"3 carjackings in 2 days (2 @ gunpoint, 1 w/ serious injuries) when is @MontCoExec and @MoCoCouncilMD going to get their priorities straight and stop defunding MoCo police?" the posts asked. Officers have reported that morale on the force and officer recruiting efforts are both trending downward.

"Just because of the, so much of the anti-police sentiment, not being treated well," County Officer Petr Speight told CBS' Ted Koppel in a report aired Sunday. "Those kind of things are just discouraging people from wanting to stick around. Things have just changed, the way people view us, and the way they view our role in society and our jobs."

While anti-police sentiment has markedly increased after the death of George Floyd, declining police morale has actually been trending in Montgomery County for more than a decade, based on what officers have told me over that time period. The County Council tried to slash disability benefits for officers in 2009, approving a modified version of that plan in 2011. Councilmembers, and the Washington Post editorial board, falsely characterized officers seeking disability benefits as schemers and scam artists without evidence to back up those claims. Both have publicly criticized County police on a regular basis for a variety of grievances since that opening move.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Angry Jerk is coming to Silver Spring

Caribbean flavors are coming to the old Big Greek Cafe space at 8223 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. The new tenant is The Angry Jerk, promising "authentic Caribbean cuisine." Signage is already up, as contractor Green Owl Design works on the interior fit-out of the restaurant.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Kensington Crossing shopping center design discussed at virtual meeting


Drive-thru restaurant space to be bank instead

There won't be a drive-thru fast food restaurant at the future Kensington Crossing shopping center at 10619 Connecticut Avenue and Plyers Mill Road. Disappointed residents were informed at a virtual meeting last night that the drive-thru spot on the property is likely going to be a drive-thru bank instead.

“It's hard to imagine Kensington residents clamoring for [a bank] there, no less anywhere, as banking moves [to] digital more and more," one resident said after the announcement was made during the presentation. Attorney Bill Kominers represented the applicant for the proposed development at the meeting, and Scott Wolford represented the architecture firm, Zavos Architecture+Design, LLC of Frederick.

The design is a notch above the typical strip mall. A change in the design's massing has replaced a central paseo with one, continuous structure. The applicant wants to build up to Connecticut Avenue, as opposed to placing parking in front there, to "activate the streetscape" and "give a rhythm up and down Connecticut Avenue." 

Parking will instead be on the east side of the property, and there will be one "right in, right out" curb cut. Access and circulation plans were developed in concert with an adjoining property owner.

A resident implored the architect to "please consider the aesthetics of Kensington" in the design. Another resident suggested including design elements of the former gas station in the new building. Wolford said the location is outside of Old Town Kensington, and therefore there was more freedom in the design stage for the architects to diverge from those older aesthetics.

Outdoor space proposed in the original proposed design will now have an overhead canopy with skylights. The applicant hopes this will give a three-to-four season use of the space for outdoor dining and gathering purposes. Sustainability features will include a light-colored roof and high-efficiency HVAC units.

While there was disappointment that the drive-thru structure won't be a restaurant, the applicant expects there will be several in-line restaurants as tenants at Kensington Crossing. None were confirmed as of last night, however. Tenants in talks with the developer include a veterinary clinic and a bank; the latter requires a drive-thru for its business model.

New site plan design now shows central
canopy for outdoor dining space

Delivery of Kensington Crossing will not take long if all goes well. Should the site plan receive approval from Montgomery County, the shopping center could be up and running as soon as next spring, Kominers said.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Nestle Toll House Cafe permanently closed at Wheaton Plaza

Kiosk now available for lease

Nestle Toll House Cafe at Wheaton Plaza is yet another victim of the pandemic year. The kiosk scored quite well on Yelp during its time at the mall. Bad news: According to the chain's website, the closest Nestle Toll House Cafe to Wheaton is 80.20 miles away in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The good news is that the kiosk is now available for lease, for someone seeking a lower-cost food service business opportunity than a full-scale bricks-and-mortar restaurant.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Takoma Park police phone number cloned by phone scammers

The City of Takoma Park police department is alerting residents that a phone scammer has cloned one of its phone numbers for use in a Medicaid scam. A resident received a call from the cloned number, which appeared on Caller ID to be coming from the police agency. Instead, it was an alleged phone scammer posing as a Medicaid employee. 

The alleged scammer demanded the resident give their Social Security number over the phone. Takoma Park police want residents to know that it, and other City offices, do not contact residents by phone to demand personal information or money. If you receive such a call from a scammer, they ask you to report it to the Takoma Park Police Department at 301-270-1100. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Verizon utility work in downtown Silver Spring

A Verizon crew was working below the street in downtown Silver Spring last night. The work was being performed at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road, requiring some lane closures around the busy crossroads.

Guy with ladder sneaking through yards at night in Silver Spring neighborhood

Residents in the Glenview area of Silver Spring are reporting on neighborhood listservs that a man or juvenile is sneaking through their yards at night over the last week, carrying a ladder. Those who have caught him on camera have differing theories as to why he is carrying the ladder, but have so far only reported plants missing from one yard. 

Streets the suspicious person has been filmed on are near Glen Haven Elementary School. A good reminder to close and lock second-floor windows at night, if you are in this area off Georgia Avenue between Wheaton and Forest Glen.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Wheaton Library reopening moved to new date

Montgomery County Public Libraries announced today that it is moving the reopening of the Wheaton Library at 11701 Georgia Avenue. The new opening date will be June 14, 2021. No appointments will be required, there will be no capacity limit in the building, and social distancing restrictions will be canceled. The initial hours for the Wheaton Library will be as follows:

  • Monday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Sunday: Closed

Montgomery County sued over new ghost gun law

Montgomery County is being sued in County Circuit Court over its recently-passed ghost gun law. Bill 4-21, passed by the Montgomery County Council on April 6, restricts the possession, use, sale, and transfer of ghost guns, undetectable guns, and certain other firearms within 100 yards of places of public assembly; restricts the possession, use, sale, and transfer of ghost guns, undetectable guns, and certain other firearms with respect to minors; and requires the Montgomery County Police Department to submit an annual report to the County Executive and the County Council regarding the availability and use of ghost guns and undetectable guns in the county. The new law is scheduled to go into effect July 16. But a new lawsuit says the law violates Article XI–E, § 3 of the Maryland Constitution, as well as other statutes on the books.

Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., a leading 2nd Amendment rights organization in the state, gun retailers, and several Montgomery County residents are plaintiffs in the suit. They seek to overturn the law, and to be compensated for damages and legal fees. 

The new law's provision on software designs for ghost guns violates the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the suit alleges. A recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, said the 1st Amendment protects such computer code. New restrictions on possession and business transactions, as well as the overall "vague language" of the law, violate the Maryland Takings Clause (Article III § 40) and the Due Process Clause (Article 24)  of the Maryland Declaration of Rights 

Engage Armament, a gun retailer in Rockville, is one of the plaintiffs in the case. Its owner says the new County law prevents some transactions the store has been able to complete under existing federal and state laws, such as the sale of legal firearm components for assembly, and of computer code for such assembly. The store also falls within 100 yards of a place of public assembly as defined by the County Council, and has until now been able to legally make a firearm sale in the presence of a minor who is accompanied by a parent.

The lawsuit being filed also alleges the new ghost gun law violates the Maryland Express Powers Act, noting that Montgomery County cannot pass laws in conflict with existing state law. Montgomery County is attempting to redefine public gathering places as any ordinary private property that has current or future potential as a public gathering space, the suit alleges. Maryland law regarding the transfer of firearms preempts new restrictions being passed by local governments, it further notes. The suit is Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., et al vs. Montgomery County, Maryland.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Sleep Number posts "coming soon" signage at Downtown Silver Spring

Sleep Number
has posted "coming soon" signage in the windows of its future location at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Ellsworth Drive, at Downtown Silver Spring. The store is currently hiring for all positions. I first reported on Sleep Number's arrival in April, but it was understandably overshadowed by the other signing by property owner Peterson Cos., Flip'd by IHOP.