Thursday, March 31, 2016

Robbery on Elm St., 2 cars stolen in N. Bethesda, sex offense on Ridgefield Rd. + more - Crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 28, according to crime data:

Robbery. 4900 block Elm Street.

Theft. 7000 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Other sexual offense. 5100 block Ridgefield Road.

Vehicle burglary. 8800 block Montgomery Avenue.

Theft. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Theft. 5100 block Westpath Way.

Stolen car. 6100 block Rosemont Circle.

Stolen car. 10500 block Westlake Drive.

Saah Building renovation begins in Bethesda (Photos)

The facade renovation of the Saah Building at 7813-7817 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda is underway. New windows with more natural light, and the addition of a building-side mural will be among the changes, according to the plans by local architecture firm Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc.

The Saah Building was constructed in 1954.

Nighttime construction noise keeping downtown residents up in Bethesda

Downtown Bethesda's "nighttime economy" may be on the ropes, but the nighttime noise business is booming. Jackhammering and other things that go bump in the night are keeping up residents in the vicinity of the 8100 block of Wisconsin Avenue. A contractor held a nighttime noise waiver that was due to expire by the end of February there, which I've been informed was related to utility work for the new TD Bank under construction at 8101 Wisconsin.

However, I was told by Steve Martin of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection that the Maryland State Highway Administration can issue its own lane-closure permit for nighttime work to a utility, like Pepco or WSSC. The DEP has no authority to override the SHA, Martin said. Given that I am hearing from multiple residents who were not aware this was going to happen, it suggests that appropriate notification of nearby property owners and apartment management offices by the contractor did not occur in this case.

You'll notice a dark strip in the far-right lane of northbound Wisconsin directly in front of the bank in several of these photos. I'm also still not seeing a sidewalk closure announcement with dates prominently posted, which is now required under a recent County law. I am aware that a 311 report was filed on this and at least one other project a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bethesda office building reduced to rubble (Photos)

A demolition crew finished off the small office building that sits on one-half of the site that will eventually hold the Cheval Bethesda luxury condo tower, at 4990 Fairmont Avenue.

These photos are in chronological order, from near-destruction to rubble. Notice that, as of yesterday, you can now clearly see most of the new 7770 Norfolk building from Old Georgetown Road.

Mural at new TD Bank pays tribute to Bethesda landmark (Photos)

Environmentally-friendly features like a green roof and solar panels will dominate the exterior of the future TD Bank at 7628 Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda. But inside, a historic downtown landmark is the central feature.

A large mural depicts the Bethesda Theatre, which opened in 1938 as The Boro. The marquee announces a 1941 film, Swamp Water, starring Walter Brennan. In between those dates, the theater was renamed the Bethesda Theatre. Now, what the stacks of tires represent, I'm not sure. There is also a group of people standing in the foreground of the image.

Helen's planning soft opening over next few weeks

After two years of delays, Helen's - The Bar finally has Montgomery County permits in hand. Renowned former DC-area caterer Helen Wasserman is now preparing for some soft-opening hours in the coming weeks. An official opening date has not been scheduled yet, however.

The restaurant is located at 11120 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda (or Rockville, if you are going by the "official" federal and County government address system).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bethesda construction update: World of Beer (Photos)

Here's a Bethesda demolition project that has created a scene reminiscent of a Greek ruin on Bethesda Avenue. The long-planned removal of an arch alongside the Artery Plaza building is underway, in an effort to create a larger patio dining area for the vacant restaurant space inside.

When the project was first proposed, owner JBG was still seeking a tenant, but we now know that World of Beer is the restaurant that will eventually open here later this year.

Renderings of Christ Lutheran Church Bethesda apartment project (Photos)

Here's a look at the near-future redevelopment of Christ Lutheran Church at 8015 Old Georgetown Road, at the edge of downtown Bethesda. The project will include 107 apartment units, and a 48000 SF community center anchored by a new 350-seat church.

The project is now headed to the Development Review Committee, which consists of representatives of Montgomery County government agencies and utilities like WSSC and Pepco. That body will review the church's plan on Monday, April 4, at 10:30 AM, at the Montgomery County Planning Department headquarters in Silver Spring.

Images via Montgomery County Planning Department