Thursday, December 08, 2016

Robbery on Western Ave., sex offense on Swords Way + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on December 5, according to crime data:

Vehicle burglary. 7700 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. Bethesda Metro Center.

Theft. 4300 block East-West Highway.

Robbery. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 3100 block Rolling Road.

Pedestrian struck. Massachusetts Avenue at Westbard Avenue at 5:00 PM.

Vehicle burglary. 5600 block Gloster Road.

"Other sexual offense." 6300 block Swords Way.

Vehicle burglary. Grosvenor Metro station.

Burglary. 6100 block Tilden Lane.

Assault. 11800 block Old Drovers Way (Randolph Hills).

Gusto Italian Grill rebrands as Gusto Farm to Street in Bethesda (Photos)

Not long after celebrating its first anniversary in downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring, Gusto Italian Grill has shortened its name to Gusto, with the addition of the phrase "Farm to Street." The changes have been underway for weeks online and in advertising materials, but yesterday new signage was installed to make it official.

During this fall, Gusto has added a number of new menu items, including a cauliflower crust pizza and new salads. They also pulled off an impressive win in the North Bethesda Market tomato sauce contest.

On Saturday, December 17, Santa Claus will stop by for lunch at the Silver Spring location, and dinner at the Bethesda Gusto. There will be free candy canes, and kids will eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

Bethesda Capital Crescent Trail crossing where cyclist was fatally struck to get road diet

Delegate Marc Korman (D - District 16) reports that changes are now planned for the Capital Crescent Trail crossing on Little Falls Parkway where a cyclist was struck and killed in October. Korman says the number of lanes will be reduced to one in each direction, and that the speed limit will be lowered to 25. There will also be additional signage.

One issue that is going to have to be looked at by traffic engineers is, how to facilitate cars turning left in two lanes from Arlington Road onto the parkway merging safely in that short of a distance.

Flood at Little Falls Library in Bethesda

Early last evening, firetrucks could be seen in the parking lot up behind the Little Falls Library at 5501 Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda. Large utility trucks were parked in the driveway that leads up to the library and Westland Middle School. Men in safety vests were searching the property with flashlights. And there appeared to be excavation equipment on the front lawn of the library.

I asked Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Pete Piringer if there had been a gas leak. Piringer said the basement level of the library had flooded, and the WSSC was called in. Pepco also had to send a crew to turn off power to the library.

Due to the after hours timing of the incident, I do not yet have a statement from Montgomery County Public Libraries regarding how the flood and resulting damage might impact the reopening of the library. Expected to reopen as early as this month, it's certainly possible that the new carpeting and possibly other upgrades had been installed by now. The library has been closed since July for renovations.

Stay tuned for more information as I receive it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Liquor arrest at Tastee Diner, burglary on Ridgefield Rd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on December 4, according to crime data:

Liquor arrest. Tastee Diner.

Stolen car. Location unknown; reported to 2nd District police station.

Drug arrest. 4300 block Lynbrook Drive.

Burglary. 5100 block Ridgefield Road (Manor Care or Westwood Center II).

Theft. Westbard Giant.

DUI arrest. 6400 block Goldsboro Road.

Theft. 6000 block Corewood Lane.

Cordell Ave. closes again for more Pepco repairs in downtown Bethesda (Photos)

Despite heavy rain, a Pepco crew returned to work on its damaged underground feeder lines yesterday on Cordell Avenue at Old Georgetown Road. Access to that end of Cordell was entirely blocked off again during the evening rush and beyond, as Pepco continues to repair damage allegedly caused by WSSC workers repairing their own underground system.

Green Revolution Skin Studio moving in Bethesda (Photos)

Green Revolution Skin Studio, a boutique and spa offering custom facial treatments, is moving in downtown Bethesda. The studio is leaving its 4641 Montgomery Avenue spot, and moving to 7944 Norfolk Avenue. That space was recently vacated by Interiors of Washington, an interior design business that recently consolidated its services in its Bradley Boulevard location.

A winner of the Washington City Paper "Best of DC" award in 2015 and 2016, Green Revolution's owner draws on traditional Hungarian skin care methods as inspiration for her facial treatments. In addition to being a licensed esthetician, she also holds certifications in chakra healing, lymphatic massage therapy for the face and body, microdermabrasion, administering professional strength peels, and body contour Vela Shape laser treatments.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

New Bethesda Intelligence Community Campus to get Dunkin' Donuts

America's next generation of spies will run on Dunkin'. A source tellls me the nearly-completed "Intelligence Community Campus - Bethesda" is going to get a Dunkin' Donuts shop. It will be open from 6:00 AM - 4:00 PM on weekdays.

Intelligence officials have been understandably coy about exactly which intelligence arms of the government will be operating out of the state-of-the-art site. The Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Intelligence University have previously be confirmed as agencies to be represented on-site. Unconfirmed but rumored is the Central Intelligence Agency, whose headquarters is diagonally directly across the Potomac River from the ICC-B site, which is located on Sangamore Road, across from The Shops at Sumner Place.

Sidewalk closure on Auburn Avenue alongside former Steamers restaurant (Photos)

Another sidewalk closure in the Woodmont Triangle could be a sign demolition is about to begin on the former Steamers restaurant there. The vacant Steamers is being demolished to clear the way for a new luxury condo building, The Claiborne.

Gym to open in former Bethesda homeless shelter-turned-retail space (Photos)

The mystery is mostly over at the former Catholic Charities homeless shelter for men at 4848 Cordell Avenue. It's not going to be a restaurant, folks. And it's not going to be a retail store.

An interior build-out has been underway for some time at the building. I had previously confirmed the new tenant is a gym. Yesterday, exercise bikes were loaded into the space. What I can't find out is - what is the name of the gym, and does it have any relation to the New York/Las Vegas mural on the side of the building?

Target posts Coming Soon signage in Bethesda, Healthy Back store closing (Photos)

Target has put up its first official signage to announce its scheduled March 2017 arrival in downtown Bethesda, and that it is currently hiring. Meanwhile, a departing tenant on the same level of the Shops of Wisconsin is raising the question of whether the Target store may expand into that space, as well.

The Healthy Back store, adjacent to Target's space, is closing permanently.

Regal Cinemas Bethesda to close December 15, rest of Apex Building to close the 19th

Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10 movie theater will close forever on Thursday, December 15, according to theater staff. The rest of the Apex Building it anchors will close on December 19, according to The Brown Bag, another tenant closing as the building at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue awaits demolition.

If you grew up here in the 1990s before Federal Realty's Bethesda Row became the center of town, you'll recall that the plaza outside the Regal Cinemas (though it will forever be referred to as "UA" by most of us, as it was United Artists Bethesda for many years prior) was the place to be on weekend nights. It was absolutely packed. Many dined at the long-gone Uno's in the Apex, where even celebrities like Mike Tyson could be found before or after a film.

To have a movie theater in downtown Bethesda was a novelty as the 80s turned into the 90s. The legendary KB Baronet and KB Baronet West theaters had been demolished to make way for the Bethesda Metro Center and associated redevelopment. The latter theater closed in 1988.

For its time, UA was pretty modern, though it was eventually remodeled with improved seating around the turn of the century. A tuxedoed manager ran a tight ship in the 1990s; when he disappeared, the customer experience began to severely decline in the 21st century. The air conditioning regularly would fail during hot summer nights. Theaters were not cleaned as thoroughly between films. Ushers vanished altogether, leaving moviegoers at the mercy of teenage hoodlums. Patrons had to try to settle disputes themselves. Operators in the projection room might turn your movie up to a deafening level it was never meant to be played at, and just leave the room and let it run. Ditto if something was wrong with the picture, such as the whole picture wavering throughout the movie (Man of Steel) or an endless series of lines rising from the bottom of the picture to the top until the end credits (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).

And that was if your movie wasn't prematurely ended by a false fire alarm.

Suffering veterans of these experiences began to find their wallets filled with the low-tech "tickets for another movie of your choice" handed out by the manager if you complained - and by 2006, there wasn't anybody to complain to after a late movie let out. Just the janitors vacuuming the floor. Nice.

New management seemed to improve customer service and cleanliness (at least at earlier screenings) in recent years. But even those of us with nostalgia for UA will have to admit the theater is now out of date, and simply does not provide the experience found at IMAX, ArcLight and iPic.

What it continued to provide, however, was convenience and a magnet to bring people to the restaurants and shops in downtown Bethesda. One study showed a cineplex brings 20,000 more people to a downtown on weekends than would ordinarily be there. Carr Properties, which is redeveloping the Apex Building into a promising mixed-use development with three high-rise towers, has said it is inviting Regal Cinemas to be an anchor tenant. Keep your fingers crossed, as the cineplex is critical to the downtown economy, and particularly to restaurants who rely on the "dinner-and-a-movie" crowd on weekends.

Here are some final scenes from the Brown Bag:

Monday, December 05, 2016

"All new" Aeropostale coming in January, Menchie's construction update (Photos)

Troubled chain Aeropostale is sending mixed messages at its Westfield Montgomery Mall storefront in Bethesda. Going-out-of-business-style signs screaming "Everything must go!!" and, "Entire store 70% off," share equal billing with another sign, which promises an "all new Aeropostale" in January 2017, and a reassurance that "this isn't goodbye."

The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, and even shuttered its flagship Times Square store at that time. A recent rent deal has allowed the chain to keep open more stores than originally expected. I found that these exact same signs are on another store in Syracuse, New York. At the same time, unlucky locations like Pearland, Texas are still on track to close.
Menchie's kiosk
Meanwhile, construction of the Menchie's frozen yogurt kiosk at the mall looks just about finished. Let's hope they can get open in time for the limited-edition holiday cup, spoon, and Egg Nog yogurt flavor. The kiosk is located right outside of Build-A-Bear on Level 1.

Demolition permit requested for Apex Building/Regal Cinemas in downtown Bethesda

Carr Properties has requested a demolition permit for the Apex Building, located at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. Anchored by the Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10 cineplex, the 4-story office building is being demolished to make way for a new mixed-use development and Purple Line station.
The historic
Community Paint and Hardware
building next to the Apex (center)
The permit is a "demolition or move" permission request, which might also relate to the historic Community Paint and Hardware store building that is located just south of the building (however, that building's address - 7250 Wisconsin - is not listed on the permit request). A recent development on that issue - namely, where that building can be relocated to during construction of Carr's project - was a proposal to move it to a Montgomery County public parking lot that borders on East Bethesda.

There is currently no public timetable for the closure of businesses in the Apex Building, much less an actual demolition date. This permit request is simply the first step in the process. All businesses, including the theater, remain open at this time.

Timing is of the essence with this project, which is being carefully coordinated by Montgomery County, the Maryland Transit Administration, WMATA and Carr. However, legal stumbles have delayed the start of construction on the Purple Line indefinitely, so there is likely to be at least a slightly larger window before demolition and station construction must begin.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Assaults on De Paul Dr., Westlake Terrace; drug bust on Tuckerman Lane + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on December 1, according to crime data:

Disorderly conduct. Old Georgetown Road at Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 7300 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Pooks Hill Road.

Assault. 9700 block De Paul Drive.

Drug arrest. Tuckerman Lane at Marcliff Road.

Theft. Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Assault. 7400 block Westlake Terrace.