Thursday, September 30, 2021

Silver Spring construction update: Popeyes (Photos)

Here's a look at the latest progress on the new Popeyes at 8401 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Inside, it's actually starting to resemble a Popeyes, with some logos, a wood-plank counter, and trademark orange striping now visible inside. Outside, the red bricks have gotten a white paint job, and a red overhang is now in place.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Video of Wheaton Plaza robbery suspects released

Montgomery County police have released surveillance video footage of three suspects in the November 6, 2020 robbery of a department store at Wheaton Plaza. Police arrived on-scene around 1:00 PM, and determined from surveillance footage that a black female, white female and black male had gathered merchandise before exiting the store toward the parking area.

Confronted by a security guard, the black female allegedly pepper-sprayed the guard in the eyes. The guard was then struck several times by the white female. All three suspects successfully fled the scene.

Anyone with information regarding these suspects or this crime is asked to call the 4th District Patrol Investigative Unit at 240-773-5476.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Silver Spring bus stop robbery

Montgomery County police responded to the report of  strong-arm robbery at a bus stop in Silver Spring this past Sunday night, September 26, 2021. The robbery was reported at a bus stop in the 11200 block of New Hampshire venue at 9:27 PM, according to crime data.

Update: Corrected text due to keyboard malfunction - thank you for your patience and readership!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Sidewalk extension proposed for Decatur Avenue in Kensington

This Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 7:00 PM, a virtual public hearing will be held on a proposed sidewalk segment for Decatur Avenue in Kensington. The sidewalk would be on the south side of Decatur, and extend from 3900 Decatur east to the existing sidewalk alongside Kaiser Permanente at Connecticut Avenue. Four mature oak trees and two maple trees will be cut down for the new sidewalk.

Planners will present the proposal, discuss costs and tentative schedules, and take feedback from the public. To participate in the public hearing, go to the meeting website, and follow these instructions from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation:

To attend the hearing or to testify, click on the above link and download Adobe Connect when prompted. Adobe Connect uses a telephonic bridge to eliminate echo and feedback during the hearing. 

To connect:
  • Mute your computer speakers;
  • From a landline or cellular telephone, dial 1-800-832-0736;
  • When prompted to enter the “Meeting Room,” enter 9081014 and press # to establish a connection;
  • In the Attendees box, find the number beside your name or telephone number. Enter the number on your telephone keypad and press # to merge your phone and computer.
  • To reduce the bandwidth for the hearing, do not enable video.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Utility relocation to affect traffic, parking in alley between Ripley St. and Bonifant St. in Silver Spring

Underground utility relocation in the alley connecting Ripley Street and Bonifant Street in downtown Silver Spring is now scheduled to begin October 5, 2021. The project is expected to take two weeks, weather permitting. Work is scheduled to take place between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM on weekdays during that time, and on weekends if needed. 

Traffic and parking in the alley will be affected by the project. Flaggers will direct traffic through the alley as necessary. No parking will be allowed in the alley for the duration of the project. However, parking garage access, and the rear door, at Solaire 8250 Georgia will be maintained at all times. The work is related to the Purple Line.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Ellsworth Place mall to add food hall in early 2022

The popular trend of food halls is coming to downtown Silver Spring early next year, courtesy of Ellsworth Place. A 13,224 square foot food hall will be added to the mall in the first quarter of 2022. It will be next to McGinty's Public House on Level 3. This is quite a coup for the mall, as it may deliver the town's first food hall earlier than the one planned for the Solaire 8200 Dixon, which is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Philadelphia Avenue road closure/detour September 29 in Takoma Park

The Maryland State Highway Administration will close part of Philadelphia Avenue for about 8 hours on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 to remove a large tree. A detour will be set up so that the crane needed can operate in the 300 block of Philadelphia. The detour will use Chestnut Avenue, Grant Avenue and Piney Branch Road. Refer to the above map, which was provided by the Takoma Park police department.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Suspect arrested in Whitehall Drive burglary

Montgomery County police announced this morning that they have arrested and charged a suspect in connection with the September 14, 2021 burglary of a home in the 1600 block of Whitehall Drive in Silver Spring. A 59-year-old female victim was on the third floor of the home, and saw a man exiting her home below with a bag. She called police, who began a search of the area.

Officers located a man who fit the description provided by the victim laying on the ground in a wooded area behind the woman's home. The man leapt up upon seeing the officers approaching, and fled on foot. After a brief chase, he was apprehended near Stewart Lane. Retracing the suspect's steps though the woods, officers located a knife and hammer they said the suspect had tossed away while escaping.

Dennis Adonay Guilez, 19, has been charged with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property. He is being held without bond. Detectives say he forcibly entered the victim's home by breaking through a basement window at the rear of the house.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Silver Spring non-profit to get $6.35 million from USDOJ corruption settlement proceeds

The United States Department of Justice announced today that a Silver Spring charity will receive $6,35 million in proceeds from a settlement it reached in a corruption case involving the First Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. Medical Care Development International (MCDI) will receive the funds, which will be used for the purchase and distribution of medicines and medical supplies throughout Equatorial Guinea. MCDI is located in the Metro Plaza complex in downtown Silver Spring.

Among the items of Obiang Mangue sold off to generate the funds were a Ferrari, and a signed Michael Jackson Thriller jacket, as well as a $30 million mansion in Malibu, California. “The department’s tenacity in ensuring that these funds be returned for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea demonstrates our commitment to making sure a nation’s resources are used to benefit the people of that nation and are not siphoned off inappropriately,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in statement today.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Elan condos offering one office unit for sale on ground level

The Elan condo conversion project at 700 Roeder Road in Silver Spring isn't entirely wiping away the property's office building legacy. An office unit is now being offered for sale in the ground floor. The asking price is $1,120,000. It is 3638 square feet in size, and AMR Commercial is marketing it as ideal for medical office use, as one possibility. If you had enough money to cover the cost of the office unit and a condo unit above, you could live upstairs, and work downstairs.

Photo: Robert Dyer/Rendering courtesy AMR Commercial

Thursday, September 16, 2021

1111 Bonifant Street for sale in downtown Silver Spring

A prime office building property at the Silver Spring Transit Center has hit the market in downtown Silver Spring. 1111 Bonifant Street is being marketed for sale by Bethesda-based AMR Commercial, LLC. The asking price is $4.6 million, according to the online listing. 

The property is currently zoned for a maximum height of 200'. It is adjacent to a public parking garage (which would massively reduce the responsibility of a developer to provide on-site parking in a future building on this site), and is located in an Opportunity Zone. The 1963 building was renovated in 1982, and a roof membrane was installed this year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Pickpocket strikes in Silver Spring place of worship

It's pretty low to commit crimes in a house of worship. But that's just what a pickpocket did Monday evening, September 13, 2021, in an area of Silver Spring near Olney. The pickpocket struck at 6:23 PM in a place of worship in the 700 block of Norwood Road, according to crime data.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Ripley St. utility relocation scheduled to begin Wednesday in Silver Spring

Purple Line-related utility relocations are scheduled to begin tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15, 2021 along Ripley Street south of the Silver Spring Transit Center Kiss & Ride. Watch for flagmen directing traffic. Metered parking in the vicinity may be limited at times, but access to local businesses will be maintained at all times, a project spokesperson said. 

The project will take about two weeks, weather permitting. Work hours will be from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM on weekdays, and as needed on weekends. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Strong-arm rape at Silver Spring apartment complex

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm rape at an apartment complex on the edge of downtown Silver Spring yesterday afternoon, September 12, 2021. The rape was reported in a storage/office area of an apartment building in the 1500 block of N. Falkland Lane at 5:37 PM on Sunday, according to crime data.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Sweet Block coming to Silver Spring

Sweet Block
, a tropical chamoy candy shop specializing in enchilados, is coming to Silver Spring. It will be at 24-B Vital Way in the Vital Way Retail Center in Colesville. The sign is already installed above the storefront, and you can check out some of their products on the Sweet Block website.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Car stolen in Takoma Park

City of Takoma Park police are investigating the theft of a vehicle along a busy commercial stretch of New Hampshire Avenue on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. The vehicle stolen has been identified by police as a new 2021 Nissan Versa, bearing Pennsylvania plates with the tag number LNL0447. If you have any information about this crime, or have seen the car since it was stolen, call detectives at 301-270-1100, and refer to case number 21003582.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Montgomery County planning staff advises denial for Takoma Junction plans, extension request

The highly-controversial Takoma Junction redevelopment plan continues to run into community and regulatory roadblocks. Preliminary and site plans for the development are scheduled to go before the Montgomery County Planning Board on September 15, 2021. Takoma Park's Mayor and Council have already voted to disapprove the current plans. Now Montgomery County planning staff is recommending commissioners deny approval of the plans, and deny a separate extension request for those plans.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Montgomery County residents in parks, grocery stores more than before the pandemic, data shows

Residents still not going back to the
office, transit, or general shopping 
in great numbers

Montgomery County residents are shopping inside grocery and drug stores in larger numbers than they were before the pandemic, the latest Google Mobility data show. They're making even greater use of parks than before Covid-19 officially arrived last spring. Other travel hasn't bounced back as strongly, such as going into the office, or commuting there by transit. And in-person retail shopping for items other than groceries and medicine remains sluggish, in relative comparison.

Using a baseline of mobility data Google collected from Montgomery County residents' devices between January 3 and February 6, 2020, behavioral changes are evident. The latest Google data covers the period between Monday, July 19, 2021, and Monday, August 30, 2021.

Hillwood Manor Park in Takoma Park

Over the last half of this summer, County residents were using parks 28% more than they were at the start of 2020. One caveat to that: the new data covers a warm, summer period, while the baseline was taken during the height of winter.

Safeway in Damascus

A more apples-to-apples comparison is in grocery and pharmacy shopping; the latter surges during winter months. But during late summer 2021, County residents were going into grocery stores and drugstores 7% more than they were during the height of cold and flu season in early 2020. There has been an increasing strain on grocery supply lines again in recent weeks, as evidenced by Costco reinstating limits on the number of some items that may be purchased, such as paper towels and toilet paper. Business Insider reports that shortages are the result of panic buying over the Delta variant, and of labor shortages affecting the ability to produce, ship and restock merchandise.

CVS Pharmacy

Residents aren't shopping in other types of retail stores, or traveling for non-park recreational activities as much, though. "Retail and recreation" travel was down 12% in late summer this year, compared to early 2020. One would expect recreation to be higher in summer than in midwinter, so that is a notable decline.

Metro Red Line train in Rockville

Travel to workplaces looks better than it was during the lockdowns and peaks of the pandemic, but still follows the national trend of those working from home continuing to do so where possible. Workplace travel was 44% lower in late summer 2021 in Montgomery County than it was in January-February 2020. Those traveling for any reason are often still wary of using public transit. Bus and rail commuting was down 42% in recent weeks, compared to early 2020.

One thing many residents are doing is continuing to stay home. Despite warm weather, County residents stayed at home 11% more over the last six weeks than they did in frigid January-February 2020.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Montgomery County to break ground on Smart Energy bus depot in Lyttonsville

Montgomery County has announced it will break ground on a new Smart Energy bus depot at 8710 Brookville Road in Lyttonsville on September 9, 2021. The depot will charge and service 44 new electric Ride On buses. Delivery of the new depot is anticipated for mid-2022. All 44 electric Ride On buses are expected to enter service by 2023.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

New Porsche dealership building could replace Nissan at Auto Sales Park in Silver Spring

MileOne, the owner of several dealerships at the Montgomery Auto Sales Park in Silver Spring, has submitted a site plan amendment application proposing to replace its existing Herb Gordon Nissan dealership at 3131 Automobile Boulevard with a new Porsche dealership. The Porsche dealership would be 371 square feet larger than the footprint of the current Nissan building. 

Porsche Silver Spring
currently has a dealership facility in a less-prominent spot behind Herb Gordon, at 3141 Automobile. Porsche's newest dealership lighting and architecture aesthetics will be employed in the design of the new building, the application states.

The Montgomery County Planning Board is scheduled to take up the application at its September 9, 2021 meeting. Planning staff is recommending approval of the new dealership, with conditions. These include a maximum cap of 25998 square feet on the size of the building, a 24' height limit, and a demand for the submission of various documents and plans prior to issuance of permits and site plan approval.

Aerial maps via Montgomery County Planning Department

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Popeyes construction advances in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

There's a long way to go on the interior fit-out of the new Popeyes at 8401 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. But tremendous progress has been made on the exterior of the restaurant. An all-new brick facade has been constructed on the ground level, and siding has been installed on the second floor of the building. Inside, you can see some interior walls and doorways have been constructed. 

An interesting touch you don't always see at Popeyes is that the front doors have been painted in "Popeyes Orange." The construction crew was working late into the night Tuesday. One thing we desperately need in Montgomery County: a Popeyes with a drive-thru.