Friday, April 20, 2018

Gilda's Bridal Collection opening in Bethesda

Gilda's Bridal Collection is opening at 4929 St. Elmo Avenue in downtown Bethesda. A shop of the same name is currently open in Dunn Loring, Virginia.

Demolition begins for Westbard Self Storage (Photos)

Demolition of the auto repair building on the future site of Westbard Self Storage has begun behind the McDonald's on River Road. The project has provoked some controversy, as the property includes a portion of land being donated to Montgomery County, which is part of the Moses African Cemetery. Cemetery advocates had urged the County to require an archaeological study of the plot before allowing construction and demolition to begin. The Planning Board declined to do so. Many times, historic African-American cemeteries such as this can have gravesites beyond their property lines, because those borders are not always physically delineated.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

MDOT meeting on Hogan Express Lanes plan for I-495, I-270 tonight in Bethesda

The Maryland Department of Transportation held a public meeting last night in Clarksburg to introduce basic information about Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes proposal for I-495 and I-270, and get preliminary feedback from attendees. An identical open house will be held tonight, Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 6:30-8:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

Officials said future meetings will offer more specifics on alternatives, as well as environmental and property issues. Another public meeting will be held this year, and a public hearing on the environmental impact statement in 2019. MDOT anticipates a final Record of Decision on the project in 2020.

Hogan is aiming for an expedited design and approval process for the project, which will largely be built through private funds, costing taxpayers very little. Among the private firms who have already joined the Express Lanes team are Ernst & Young and CDM Smith.

Kenwood gang-tag graffiti covered over (Photos)

Apparently the damage to the Kenwood sign from this week's gang-tag-style graffiti attack was too severe for a simple powerwash, as some had suggested would be sufficient. Instead, the defacing has been covered over with paint. The sign is just a mess right now. No public statement has been released by Montgomery County police yet on the investigation of this incident, and whether or not it was actually gang-related.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Business groups to hold MoCo Democratic county executive debate April 27

Several Montgomery County and regional business groups will host a debate between Democratic candidates for County Executive on Friday, April 27, 2018 from 8:00-10:30 AM at The Universities at Shady Grove. Republican Robin Ficker is also running for the office, but has not been invited to participate. Attendees will also receive a presentation on County economic indicators from Anirban Basu (pictured) of the Sage Policy Group.

The event is free, but you need to register online in advance.

Uncle Julio's getting major renovations at Bethesda Row (Photos)

You could be forgiven for thinking Uncle Julio's was closed, with all the scaffolding, tarps and lack of signage on the their building right now at 4870 Bethesda Avenue. That's probably why they have a massive sign stating, "NOW OPEN" on the building, as well. The restaurant is undergoing a major renovation, but is still open for business.

MoCo Council proposes taxpayer-funded lawyers for illegal immigrants facing deportation

Illegal immigrants
convicted of murder,
rape would be eligible
for taxpayer-funded
lawyers if they have 
a "potentially 
meritorious" case

The Montgomery County Council has introduced a "special appropriation" of $373,957 to fund free lawyers for illegal immigrants facing deportation. County Councilmember Nancy Navarro said she was proud that the Council would use taxpayer funds to defend illegal immigrants from deportation, adding that Tuesday's proposal "doubled down on our commitment to protect our immigrant community."

While the Council resolution claims in one section that illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes such as murder and rape would not be eligible for the taxpayer-funded legal assistance, that claim is negated by later wording.

On Page 3 of the resolution, the text notes that illegal immigrants convicted of murder, rape, sexual offenses, armed carjacking, kidnapping, child kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse, gang participation, human trafficking and "abducting a child under 16 for prostitution" would be eligible for taxpayer-funded legal counsel if "the individual has a potentially meritorious claim for immigration relief from removal in the form of a claim to United States citizenship, protection under the Convention Against Torture, U/T Visa, or Refugee Adjustment."

A public hearing on the appropriation will be held on May 1 at the County Council Building, located at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The County is currently facing a budget shortfall of $208,000,000.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Humiliating: Montgomery County loses another one

Gerber to move
New Jersey HQ to

The Gerber baby is the latest to hand the Montgomery County Council their [briefcases] in our newest loss to Northern Virginia in the economic development sphere. 1812 North Moore in Rosslyn will be the new address for the baby food giant's world headquarters, bringing 150 more good jobs to Virginia. Gerber has leased 23392 SF of office space at the gleaming new office building.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the Commonwealth's latest defeat of Montgomery County "reaffirms that Virginia is a prime location for headquarters operations." Gerber joins Northrop Grumman, Hilton Hotels, Volkswagen, Corporate Executive Board, Nestle and Intelsat in Northern Virginia's economic development trophy case. And those are just the ones in recent years - Montgomery County, by contrast, hasn't attracted a single major corporate HQ in two decades, a humiliating comparison.
“Gaining the headquarters of the iconic Gerber brand is an important win for Arlington County and the Commonwealth, and we are thrilled to welcome Gerber to Virginia’s corporate roster,” Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade Esther Lee said in a statement Monday. Virginia will give $862,500 and a Major Business Facility Tax Credit to Gerber. In return, Arlington County will enjoy a $5 million headquarters investment by Gerber, and an estimated $4.2 million in net revenue as a result of the new HQ.
"We are thrilled to welcome Gerber to Arlington's business community," said Katie Cristol, Chair of the Arlington County Board. The Montgomery County Council? Not so much.
MoCo's latest economic development defeat comes on the heels of a devastating report that the County has had the worst new business growth rate in the entire D.C. region; only tiny Falls Church City had a lower growth rate, and has only 12,000 residents to Montgomery's 1.4 million inhabitants.

Kenwood hit with gang-tag-style graffiti (Photos)

In a virtually-unprecedented incident in the posh Chevy Chase neighborhood of Kenwood, someone has spray-painted gang-tag-style graffiti on the stately community sign on Dorset Avenue near Little Falls Parkway. Also hit were an electrical box and a sign along the Capital Crescent Trail nearby. The initials "KYS" and "FTP" are repeated in the motifs; the other two are unintelligible.
It's a sad commentary on our soft-on-crime Montgomery County Council. Setting standards really starts at the top, and the leadership there has been sorely lacking. As Jack Kemp once said, "Weakness is provocative."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Intimissimi, new Auntie Anne's location open at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos)

Intimissi, an Italian lingerie boutique, has opened on Level 1 of Westfield Montgomery Mall. The retail center is gradually filling spaces vacated in a barrage of post-Christmas closures.
Meanwhile, ubiquitous American mall treat Auntie Anne's has popped up in a new location. Their newest pretzel kiosk is on Level 1 outside of Macy's. And filling the former Teavana space will be a temporary location for Pandora Jewelry.
Auntie Anne's

Disgruntled Barnes & Noble fan leaves graffiti message at former Bethesda Row location

A fan of Barnes & Noble has protested the exit of the bookseller from Bethesda Row by leaving a graffiti message of his/her displeasure on the construction walls around their former space. "Community Cornerstone R.I.P.," reads the message in U.S. Army-style stencil font. The statement refers to the bookstore's role as a community gathering space over the last two decades.

Meanwhile, the bookstore space's future tenants, Anthropologie & Co. and Terrain Cafe, have put up fancier messages on other parts of the wall. The signage touts some of what you'll find in the future store. I had to look up what BHLDN Weddings referred to. Famous quotes that used to adorn the exterior of the bookstore have also been removed in recent days.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Fire restoration permit requested for Hank Dietle's Tavern

The effort to restore Hank Dietle's Tavern continues to gain momentum, after a February fire heavily damaged the landmark bar at 11010 Rockville Pike. Since the fire, volunteers have assisted in cleaning up debris, while awaiting the insurance funds that would go toward the restoration costs.
CLICK HERE to learn more. The Council
candidate who will be the first name on your
in November is also the only
candidate guaranteed to vote to end the
government liquor monopoly
Now the bar is moving forward. A fire restoration permit has been requested from Montgomery County. The valuation of this phase of the restoration is cited as $15,000, according to the permit application. Hank's official GoFundMe page raising money for the restoration has given $20,000 as the fundraising goal. Contributions are still being taken, if you would like to help.

Montgomery County, as a side note, is calling the legendary roadhouse "Deedle's Bar."

Photo: Pete Piringer/MCFRS

Kenwood Cherry Blossoms at night (Photos)

The cherry blossoms in full bloom at night take on a completely different character along the streets of Kenwood. Let's take a look.