Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bethesda construction update: The Flats luxury apartments (Photos)

The Flats is the rental apartment option for future residents at the StonebridgeCarras development on former Parking Lot 31 in Bethesda. You'll also notice banners and indications of future retail and restaurant tenants like Pottery Barn and Silver.

Auto break-ins on Bradley Blvd., Newport Avenue; car stolen in Pike District + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 25, according to crime data:

Vehicle burglary. 4700 block Bradley Boulevard.

Burglary. 3600 block Taylor Street (Chevy Chase Section Three).

Burglary. 4600 block N. Park Avenue.

Theft. 5400 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Newport Avenue (Glen Cove).

Vehicle burglary. 11400 block Rockville Pike (Pike District).

Theft. Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Stolen car. 6100 block Executive Boulevard.

Parents concerned about MCPS Chromebook rollout holding meeting in Bethesda March 30

Montgomery County Public Schools made national headlines last summer when it announced it was distributing free laptops and tablets to students. The initiative was one of several efforts to address the persistent achievement gap in the school system. That program began this academic year with 30,000 Google Chromebooks in Grades 3-6 and 10,000 in high school classes. The number will expand in the future.

Parents have expressed privacy and security concerns about the technology, as the laptops have student-specific accounts. MCPS has said its network is closed and secure, but data is uploaded to "the cloud" for access elsewhere.

A group calling itself Parents for the Responsible Use of Technology in School is hosting a meeting to discuss various issues of concern ranging from privacy to safety to cyberbullying this Monday, March 30, from 7:00-8:30 PM at the Bethesda Library. The library is located at 7400 Arlington Road.

The group also aims to generate an action plan to help teachers as the MCPS Technology Initiative expands.

Here is Monday night's agenda:

A. Technology in the Classroom.
B.  Preparation— students, parents, teachers;
C.  Testing—PARCC & other testing;
D.  Privacy—data mining by 3rd parties; access to health records;
E.  Security—protection of data collected;
F.  Safety– wireless vs. cable, code of conduct, bullying
G.  Create working groups and a plan of action with measurable goals.

Photo courtesy Google

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pitzze closes in Bethesda

Pitzze, the latest iteration of a pizzeria and wine bar that has struggled through several overhauls, has finally called it quits. The restaurant at 7137 Wisconsin Avenue released an official statement yesterday:

"We are sorry to report that pitzze (sic) has closed its doors effective March 25th. Thank you for your patronage and support."

2 drug arrests, Pike District robbery + more - Bethesda crime report

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 24, according to crime data:

Drug arrest. Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road.

Theft. 3600 block Chevy Chase Lake Drive.

Drug arrest. Luxemburg Street at Nicholson Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Nicholson Lane.

Robbery. 5700 block Marinelli Road (Pike District).

Smoothie King grand opening this weekend

Don't forget about the Smoothie King grand opening celebration this weekend at their new Bethesda Avenue store. The shop has been open for a while, but the celebration starts today with a $5 medium smoothie special, and continues all weekend. Here are the details.

Smoothie King
4710 Bethesda Avenue

Partial shutdown of Fairmont Avenue for crane removal this weekend

The removal of the tower crane at the 7770 Norfolk luxury apartments construction site will necessitate closure of about half a block of Fairmont Avenue, between Norfolk Avenue and Old Georgetown Road. That closure will be at the Norfolk end, mostly alongside the 7770 Norfolk property. But it will extend slightly further toward Old Georgetown.

Closure of the affected section is scheduled to begin at 3:00 AM Saturday morning, and will continue through 3:00 PM on Sunday. Temporary traffic control signage will divert drivers during the closure.

With the facade 50% complete, and most work focused on the interior apartment units at this point, the tower crane is no longer needed.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bethesda construction update: Element 28 luxury apartments (Photos)

While the tower crane on Old Georgetown Road is what people notice the most, construction at the Element 28 luxury apartment site is still very much below street level. The mixed-use project by Kettler will eventually rise to 15 stories, with 101 apartments and 3500 SF of retail space.

Count me as slightly skeptical of the late-2015 delivery date at this point, but there's a lot of year left to go...

Bethesda Tattoo open house April 1

Bethesda Tattoo is having an open house at its new home at 8227 Woodmont Avenue on Wednesday, April 1 from 6:00-10:00 PM. There will be raffles, prizes and food from 4935 Bar & Kitchen. The event is free, but attendees must be 18 or over.

Robbery at Whitman HS, burglary in Edgemoor + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 23, according to crime data:

Theft. 7100 block Woodmont Avenue.

Burglary. 7800 block Exeter Road (Edgemoor).

Theft. 5400 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 4400 block Willard Avenue.

Robbery. Walt Whitman High School.

Upstairs at Bethesda Row terrace to get makeover

Upstairs at Bethesda Row, the luxury apartment building that straddles Bethesda Lane, is giving its terrace a refresh. The $25,000 upgrade will include repaving, landscaping, and new grills, fireplace and lighting fixtures. For more information on the Federal Realty building, visit the UBR website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring weather gets Bethesda deli working on its patio space (Photos)

Although it's seemed more like winter in the last few days, the arrival of spring has brought back outdoor patio dining in downtown Bethesda. It appears spring will bring an update to the patio at Heckman's Delicatessen on Cordell Avenue. Men were working there yesterday afternoon. Stay tuned for updates.

Hillandale Road could reopen in 6 weeks - what took so long? The story:

Residents who use Hillandale Road regularly ask me what's taking so long to reopen the road. As you may recall, Montgomery County was forced to close the road last October after a culvert failed. At the time, engineers estimated the road could be closed for up to six months.

The worst case scenario indeed played out, as the MCDOT's Division of Highway Services yesterday announced the fix is finally underway, and could allow the road to open on-schedule in six weeks if all goes well.

What was the holdup?

According to MCDOT, it turned out that the needed multi-plate pipe was only available from one vendor. That Florida vendor could only recently deliver the pipe to Maryland.

I noticed something was up at the site last week. The barricades were haphazardly moved aside one day, and a county police cruiser was parked on the road near the Bethesda public pool. By the next day, the barricades were back up again.

At last the end of the tunnel is nearing for Hillandale Road. I have to say, though, that the closure greatly sped up trips on Little Falls Parkway for two reasons. Obviously, there was no red light at that intersection, and, second, there wasn't that problem of people jamming the right lane of the parkway by making slow turns onto Hillandale.

In fact, given Hillandale's reduced role in accessing downtown Bethesda, the reopening could be a minor negative for some drivers who are just trying to get to and from Arlington Road.

Newly-activated Bethesda traffic signal gets the green light (Video/photos)

The new traffic signal on Arlington Road that lit up last week is now fully operational, and stopping traffic. In addition to the signals themselves, you'll notice the strict directional arrow that controlled turns out of the Bradley Shopping Center has been rubbed off the pavement. That means you can turn either way coming out of there with the new signal.

Here's a video of the signal in action, and some additional photos: