Monday, October 16, 2017

Things Remembered, Just Cozy pop-ups open at Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photos)

Things Remembered, a pop-up gift shop for the holidays, has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Find it next to Victoria's Secret on Level 1 of the mall.



A second pop-up store is Just Cozy, a leggings and accessories shop that says it expects to open 100 temporary stores across the country this fall. Just Cozy is next to VIP Outdoor and Auntie Anne's on Level 2.




Car fire in Bethesda apartment tower garage damages several vehicles

A Jeep caught fire on the lowest level of the Bainbridge Bethesda parking garage after 7:00 AM Sunday morning. Several vehicles were damaged, but the fire was contained by the garage sprinkler system, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer said. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the remaining blaze after arriving on-scene.

According to a resident of the building, smoke rose up through the stairwells from the garage. That resident said fire alarms did not sound inside the actual building. This is one of several recent garage vehicle fires in this part of the county. The cause of yesterday's fire has not yet been stated, but Piringer said it was ruled accidental.

Photo: Pete Piringer/MCFRS

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Stalker in Friendship Heights, assault on Kingsley Ave. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on October 13, according to crime data:

Mental illness - emergency petition. Wisconsin Circle.

Stalking/intimidation. Apartment/condo on Friendship Boulevard.

Assault - 2nd degree. Kingsley Avenue.

Identity theft. Surrey Street.

Shoplifting. Apparel store at Pike & Rose.

Weapon possession. Car dealership on Old Georgetown Road (Pike District).

Liquor possession. Rockville Pike (Pike District).

Theft. Auto repair shop on Parklawn Drive.

Assault - 2nd degree. Auto repair shop on Parklawn Drive.

Theft from industrial park. Randolph Road.

Missing person. Whiterim Drive.

Bethesda construction update: 2nd District police station (Photos)

The future Montgomery County 2nd District police station finally has a facade. Glass has been installed, as well as the front doors on Rugby Avenue at Del Ray Avenue. The east side of the building has the prison/fortress-style design, while the bulk of the front facade looks like an office building. You can see a lot of work still has to be done inside, and to connect the front doorway to the sidewalk grade.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Swindled on Montrose Ave.!, Assault in downtown Bethesda office building! + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on October 12, according to crime data:

Theft from vehicle. Wisconsin Avenue.

Assault - 2nd degree. Office building on Old Georgetown Road (downtown Bethesda).

Theft from vehicle. Parked at office building on Old Georgetown Road (downtown Bethesda).

Theft from yard. Chevy Chase Boulevard.

Theft from vehicle. Fairglen Lane.

"Fraud: swindle." Montrose Avenue.

Mental illness - emergency petition. Apartment on Strathmore Hall Street.

Extortion by threat of injury. Rapley Gate Terrace.

**Note: Montgomery County has recently intentionally deleted block numbers from crime incident data for unknown reasons.

Pines of Rome sign at night (Photo)

Pines of Rome reopened in its new Cordell Avenue location this past Monday. Here's a photo of the new sign lit up at night, which I had not previously posted. It's notable considering that during all the years of popularity at their Hampden Lane location, they never actually had a true sign like this.

New police commander named for Bethesda area

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger has named Captain Paul Liquorie the new commander for the 2nd District, which includes Bethesda. Liquorie will officially take the role tomorrow, October 15. The current 2nd District commander, Captain David Falcinelli, has been named Duty Commander.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Burglars hit Fairfax Rd. hard, shoplifter busted at County liquor store + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on October 11, according to crime data:

Theft from vehicle. Fairfax Road.

Burglary (forced entry). Fairfax Road.

Burglary (forced entry. Fairfax Road.

Theft from restaurant. Old Georgetown Road (downtown Bethesda).

Shoplifting. Montgomery County Liquor store at Shoppes of Bethesda.

Identity theft. Bulls Run Parkway.

Property damage. MacArthur Boulevard (Cabin John).

Illegal use of credit cards. Beverly Road.

Theft from building. Old Georgetown Road (Pike District).

Liquor arrest. Randolph Road.

Downtown Bethesda to host 1st annual Yappy Hour for dogs at pop-up dog park Oct. 26

Bethesda Urban Partnership and Montgomery Parks will sponsor a Yappy Hour for dogs and their owners on Thursday, October 26, 2017 from 5:00-7:00 PM at Elm Street Urban Park, located at 4600 Elm Street. The park will be transformed into a "pop-up dog park" for the event.

There will be live music and food and drinks for humans, and separate enclosed areas for small and large dogs who are "well-socialized." No word on treats for canine attendees.

Westbard cemetery rally pushed back to Nov. 12

A rally to protest plans to build a parking garage on top of the historic African-American cemetery on the site of Westwood Tower has been pushed back to Sunday, November 12, 2017. The time will remain the same, beginning at 1:30 PM at Macedonia Baptist Church at 5119 River Road in Bethesda. Protesters will then march to the cemetery.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

MCPS a top ten offender in spending money that doesn't go to the classroom

TAX DOLLARS
DID NOT GO
TO EDUCATION,
STUDY FINDS

Montgomery County is ranked 8th in the nation in school spending that goes to administrators, rather than the classroom, according to Fox 45's Project Baltimore investigative unit. Baltimore City was the worst offender in the nation, their journalists found. Montgomery County Public Schools rank 8th out of all school systems in America in pumping cash to administrators, rather than to teachers and classroom costs. Six of the top ten are in Maryland.

This is once again proof that the record tax hike of 2016 did not go to hire teachers or improve academic performance (as recent PARCC test results proved - math scores declined, and English scores rose statewide, proving there was an obvious flaw in English portion of the test, rather than actual success by MCPS). In fact, a large chunk of the recordation tax money went to pay off the County's legal costs in the Silver Spring Transit Center debacle, in an outrageous and corrupt bait-and-switch by the County Council.

Firefighters investigating smoke near Bethesda Metro station platform

Montgomery County firefighters responded to a report of smoke near the platform at the Bethesda Metro station. An electrician from Metro arrived on-scene, as well. The smoke was determined to be coming from a light fixture, and there is no fire emergency at this time. A plastic bottle was melting on top of the lamp, according to a firefighter communicating via radio.

Brookfield unveils plan for 4 Bethesda Metro Center development (Photos)

Developer Brookfield revealed its plans for a new mixed-use tower at 4 Bethesda Metro Center at a required public meeting last night in Bethesda. The presentation was heavy on the benefits of public space and art that would be incorporated into the development. In fact, it began with a video on the developer's Arts Brookfield initiative, which the developer will "fully utilize" at 4 Bethesda Metro Center.


Some major details, such as whether the building will be commercial or residential, were not revealed last night. That question will be decided before the end of this year, a Brookfield representative predicted. A sketch plan will be filed "in the near term," likely within 30 days.


Intriguingly, Clark Construction's Protect Bethesda Open Space group - which was the public expression of Clark's objections to Brookfield's plan to build on the existing plaza (which Brookfield has the property rights to do, it should be noted) - made a last public relations push on social media in the last 48 hours. It called on plaza preservationists to turn out in force wearing green at last night's meeting to advocate for "high quality, visible, and accessible open space." However, no formal protest ended up taking place, and no major objections were raised by attendees. What made the last minute communications intriguing, was that Clark had announced it was no longer opposing Brookfield's plan about a year ago.
Plaza on Wisconsin Avenue
side of the development, including
new Metro station entrance
4 Bethesda Metro Center can be as tall as 290' under the recently-approved Bethesda Downtown sector plan. The building will be prominently on the Wisconsin Avenue side of the plaza, with a 15000 SF central lawn behind it. A new 55'-wide pedestrian promenade, which Brookfield compares to Bethesda Lane at Bethesda Row, will be created between the Brookfield building and the Hyatt Regency hotel next door.
"The Promenade," which Brookfield
envisions as a Bethesda Lane-style
pedestrian plaza with retail and
restaurants on both sides
Brookfield believes that the new ground-floor restaurant spaces on that side of the Hyatt will further help activate the promenade, along with the retail and restaurant spaces in their new building facing the hotel. The rear placement of the central lawn is designed to make it the new "center of gravity" for the plaza, which one resident said is currently difficult to navigate.
The Promenade
The Gallery
"Active corridors," such as the promenade, and around the north and west sides of the new building, will be used to improve navigation for pedestrians. Those corridors are referred to as "The Gallery" in the plans. An "intimate outdoor passage," The Gallery is envisioned as an informal gathering space for visitors and building occupants, with permanent art installations - as the name suggests. Let's hope to God the art is better than some of the more recent public "art" downtown, which more often resembles vandalism than the civilization descended from the Greeks and Romans.
The Gallery
Improved access to Metro and
bus bays
Metro and Metrobus bay access will be more seamless and welcoming, the developer promised. A plaza in front of the building will be designed to "improve the arrival experience" for commuters.
The Plaza
Central Lawn
The central lawn is meant to be not only a gathering space, but also a "destination" that attracts people to the development. Arts Brookfield will have its own space prominently at the top of the central lawn between the green space and the building itself. It will be a "beacon" to attract visitors, Brookfield suggested. Permanent furniture will be limited at the lawn.
Arts Brookfield Zone
Residents attending the meeting were concerned that the architecture create a signature building for downtown Bethesda. It's encouraging that Brookfield is referring to some different developments than are usually shown as examples. Last night's presentation cited CityCenterDC, the Piazza at Schmidt's Commons and Dilworth Plaza in Philadelphia, Bailey Plaza at Cornell University, and the Village of Yorkville Park in Toronto, among others, in addition to the often-referenced Bethesda Row.


One of the main points that came from the community last night was the lack of places for kids to play downtown. An ice rink was suggested as one option. The Metro Center actually had one of those in its earlier years, but it vanished along with the giant Christmas tree that used to be a focal point during the holidays.

This development process is certainly the time to have the discussion about making the plaza the central focus of the downtown again.

Bethesda's Moby Dick could get super-sized (Photos)

The planned move of Moby Dick House of Kabob into the former Stromboli space at 7023 Wisconsin Avenue looks like it's more ambitious than originally thought. A wall between the Stromboli space and the vacant Town Jewelers store next door is being punched out, apparently to create one larger restaurant space. Stromboli will then open under new ownership in the former Moby Dick space in 2018. Moby Dick remains open for business during construction.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A peek into Santa's workshop at Sears in Bethesda (Photos)

How do the elves at Sears at Westfield Montgomery Mall put the spectacular Christmas section of the store together? Here's a peek behind the scenes as they were making their list and checking it twice, constructing the 2017 holiday floor display area.

The most interesting thing is this
book of planograms from Sears HQ;
it shows where the Christmas products
should be placed. For ezample, the new
holiday projector item should be on
the second shelf in the main aisle
Given the dire national forecast for Sears, will this be what the late George Michael might call the "last Christmas" for the Bethesda store? Let's hope not. Sears will open early for Black Friday 2017 - at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving, according to TheBlackFriday.com. Grab that turkey leg, and run out the door.

Everything in its proper place,
as Hans Christian Anderson
once said

What do you know? There's that new
holiday projector. It works for
Halloween too

And there it is,
on the correct shelf, but room
for more items remains

It's not just a
Christmas section, it's a
"New Holiday Experience,"
this world's-largest-Post-It-Note
promises

Work begins on plaza at 4747 Bethesda Avenue project

Work has begun on the planned public space area alongside JBG Smith's 4747 Bethesda Avenue project by Bethesda Row. The question of whether the Reed Street right-of-way there is abandoned by Montgomery County is to be determined on October 12.
The vision for the narrow plaza can be seen in the below rendering of the two-story retail building, which is the only part of the project completed so far. One tenant - Dean & DeLuca - has already signed on there. The large panels with tacky artwork are punch-outs that Dean & DeLuca's own contractor will replace with the fancy windows you see below.