Sunday, December 10, 2017

Whitman student found dead near Bannockburn Swimming Club

A Walt Whitman High School student was found dead today near the Bannockburn Swimming Club. Montgomery County police say Navid Nicholas Sepehri, 17, was discovered during a search today after going missing Saturday night, in a wooded area off of the 6500 block of Laverock Lane.

According to a message posted to a neighborhood listserv while Sepehri was missing, he was last seen at the 7-Eleven in Glen Echo around 11:30 PM Saturday. Whitman principal Alan Goodwin has confirmed Sepehri passed away in an email to parents. "We ask that you remember and celebrate his love of art and commitment to others," Goodwin wrote.

Sepehri is the second Whitman student to die in as many weeks. Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Photo Gallery: The first snow of winter in Bethesda

lululemon opens in new location at Bethesda Row (Photos)

lululemon has moved up the street to 4848 Bethesda Avenue. Their original location has closed until a new tenant moves in. The new spot has been home to many a short-lived failure in recent years, with Kit + Ace being the last. Read Wall was there for a very short time as a pop-up shop, and has relocated to the old Make Meaning space across the street.

lululemon's original location had
paper over the windows Saturday

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Regal Cinemas/Apex Building demolition (Video)

Here are some short video clips of the demolition team working on the UA, er, Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10 portion of the Apex Building. The theater closed on December 14, 2016. It opened almost 30 years ago as United Artists Bethesda 10. You can see the red curtains in some of the auditoriums, and the projection booths.

Kia Stinger Salon opens at Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photos)

The holiday pop-up Kia Stinger Salon has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Located on Level 1 near Macy's, the interior design is as inspired by the Tesla Store as much as the non-sales, in-mall concept. One difference is that they are playing up the performance angle with the race car driver dummies in the front window. The Stinger is Kia's entry into the luxury sports sedan market, with a starting price of $31,900.

Friday, December 08, 2017

It's curtains for Regal Cinemas as Apex building comes down in Bethesda (Photos)

It's been almost a year since Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10 closed its doors forever in the Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, on December 15, 2016. Better known to longtime residents as "UA," for its original United Artists Bethesda 10 branding, the cineplex is now being torn apart by giant yellow machines working through the night.

What's fascinating at this stage of the demolition for those nostalgic for UA, is that the outer walls are gone at the rear of the building, and the interiors of some of the theater's auditoriums are now visible from the outside. While there's no sign yet of the theater seats, one can see the cutouts in the walls for the projector, the projection room above the rear of the auditorium, empty spaces where speakers were once attached, and - most poignantly - the regal red curtains in each of the exposed auditoriums.

While stadium, reclining, and reserved seating have revolutionized the theater industry, there's still a nostalgia for having side wings of seating, where only at the most popular movies would you have some idiot kicking your seat or spreading the flu he should have had the decency to stay home with.
The regal red curtains in what
I believe was the 2nd largest
auditorium at the rear of the
Regal Bethesda 10 cineplex
Loyal, longtime customers won't soon forget the tuxedoed master of ceremonies who ran a tight ship at UA in the 1990s, or the venerable snack bar manager who never missed a chance to upsell you - or appeal to your charitable senses with a worthy cause before the lights went down..

Yes, the "closets" on the right side of the main corridor were cramped, and occasionally took on the odor of a nearby restroom. Yes, projector operators would sometimes turn the volume knob to 11 at the start of the movie in one of those tiny auditoriums, and proceed to fall asleep. Yes, I can tell you which technical malfunction marred the picture on the big screen at particular movies. Yes, the ushers vanished altogether by the turn of the century. And the old fire-alarm-goes-off-at-the-most-gripping-moment-in-the-film trick - 'nuff said.
The box about halfway up the
right side of this photo is the
projection room
But Bethesda misses its cineplex. Except for the occasional mainstream film at Landmark Bethesda Row, one has to get the car to see a blockbuster. Metro? Good Lord. Restaurant and shop closures have picked up steam, now that thousands are missing from the downtown streets on Friday and Saturday nights. Bethesda needs a new movie theater. But no matter how posh the seats, upscale the snack bar options, and expensive the ticket prices, it won't be "UA." Auditorium 10, please.

Westbard Self Storage opponents launch petition

Residents who oppose the current plans for a new Westbard Self Storage development behind the McDonald's on River Road have launched an online petition. It criticizes the dimensions and appearance of the building, the stormwater management plan, and the width of the planned public path that will provide access to the future Willett Branch greenway between the self-storage facility and the McDonald's. Representatives for the self-storage project have told Montgomery County planners they believe their plan meets or exceeds all architectural, design and environmental requirements.

The Montgomery County Planning Board will take up the matter next Thursday, December 14, 2017, at the Planning Department headquarters, located at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Proposed Bethesda residential tower could be tallest in town (Photos)

Developers unveiled plans for a new high-rise in downtown Bethesda, on the site of 7-Eleven and EagleBank, at the corner of Wisconsin and Fairmont Avenues at a public meeting last night. Bethmont, LLC, and Bethesda Land, LLC are partners on the mixed-use project; Design Collective is the architect, and VIKA will handle the engineering aspects.

Attorney Barbara Sears of Linowes & Blocher said the approval process for the 319-unit tower is expected to take twelve to eighteen months. Construction will take two years.

The building will feature 150 underground parking spaces, a lit top and sky lounge, and 8700 SF of retail space around the ground level. At least one resident at last night's meeting wanted 7-Eleven to return in that space, calling the popular convenience store "a valuable community amenity." Sears said a convenience store was not out of the question for the development.

Sears also said they were unable to coordinate a larger project with all of the landowners south of the site on that square block. She said the developers haven't yet determined whether the building will be marketed as rental apartments or condominiums. The tower could rival Carr Properties' 7272 Wisconsin project in height, with 30 stories or 290'.

The primary concern expressed by residents last night was the plan to place all vehicular access - resident garage and loading dock - on the Fairmont Avenue side of the building. Residents noted that most properties along Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues have vehicular access from those routes, including the new Marriott headquarters and hotel, Flats at 8300 apartments and Fairmont Plaza directly across the street from this proposed project.