Sunday, September 14, 2014

BETHESDA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: THE DARCY/THE FLATS (PHOTOS)

More windows are installed at the Lot 31 construction site of The Darcy condos and The Flats apartments by Bethesda Row. There is also quite a bit of brick facade in place now on the side of The Flats, on the side of the building that faces the Capital Crescent Trail and Ourisman Honda.






SEX OFFENSE ON BRADLEY BLVD., 2 DRUG ARRESTS + MORE - BETHESDA CRIME UPDATE

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 11, according to crime data:

Vehicle burglary. 7800 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Disorderly conduct. Rugby Avenue at Woodmont Avenue.

Theft. Bethesda Row Giant.

"Other sexual offense." 4700 block Bradley Boulevard.

Theft. 6800 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 3800 block Woodbine Street (Chevy Chase Section 5).

Drug arrest. 9400 block Locust Hill Road.

Vehicle burglary. 9400 block Holland Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 3100 block Brooklawn Terrace.

Theft. 8900 block Ridge Place.

Burglary. 8900 block Ridge Place.

Burglary. 8600 block Melwood Road.

Theft. 4700 block Sangamore Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5900 block Avon Drive.

Drug arrest. I-270 spur at Democracy Boulevard.

Theft. Macy's at Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Theft. 7100 block Westlake Terrace.

SHOPPES OF BETHESDA RENOVATION UPDATE (PHOTOS)

Yesterday we took a look at the construction of the future Noodles and Company in the Shoppes of Bethesda. But the shopping center-wide renovation is still underway there, as well. All businesses are still open during the makeover (unless they had already closed). Just look for the temporary signage over the storefronts.





Saturday, September 13, 2014

NOODLES AND COMPANY BETHESDA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE (PHOTOS)

The future Noodles & Company restaurant under construction in the Shoppes of Bethesda on Elm Street is still in the early stages. This space is being reconfigured from an Irish pub (Ri-Ra) into two separate stores - one for Noodles & Company, and one for SoulCycle. So it has been a little more complicated than the typical construction for a new tenant.





ASSAULTS ON BATTERY LANE, KIRKWOOD DRIVE + MORE - BETHESDA CRIME UPDATE

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 9-10, according to crime data:

September 9

Assault. 4900 block Battery Lane at 8:21 PM.

Assault. 5400 block Kirkwood Drive (Springfield).

Theft. 5200 block Carlton Street.

Theft. 5100 block Scarsdale Road.

Theft from vehicle. 5800 block Plainview Road.

Theft from vehicle. 9500 block Kingsley Avenue.

Theft from vehicle. 5400 block Linden Court.

Burglary. 8700 block Burdette Road.

September 10

Vehicle burglary. 4500 block Montgomery Avenue.

Theft. 10200 block Old Georgetown Road.

Theft. Macy's at Westfield Montgomery Mall.

PERFECT PAIRINGS WINE TASTING/CHESSIE FEST TO TEMPT BETHESDA TODAY

Two big dining events to choose from today in downtown Bethesda is a good problem to have. Are you a wine connoisseur? Bethesda Row's Perfect Pairings is for you. Seafood lover (or just have a weak spot for local mythology and sea creatures)? Head to Grapeseed for Chessie Fest II.

PERFECT PAIRINGS

Tour 10 spots at Bethesda Row between 1:00 and 5:00 PM today, where you'll enjoy fine wines paired with some of the finest dishes around the Row. Wine experts will guide you along the way, and tapas will give you a taste of some of Bethesda Row's top restaurants.

Participating merchants include: American Tap Room, Cork & Fork, Jaleo, Lebanese Taverna, Mamma Lucia, Mon Ami Gabi, Mussel Bar & Grille, Raku, Redwood Restaurant & Bar and Vino Volo.

Start your journey on Bethesda Lane (the pedestrian street that extends between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street, opposite the Apple Store), where you can buy tickets today for $49. For that sum, you will get more than 20 wine tastings and small bites (usually 2-4 per location).

Note: Be sure to have your picture ID to prove you are 21 or older for the event.

CHESSIE FEST II

Chessie is a sea serpent people have claimed to have spotted in the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland since the 1930s. Such creatures are not entirely fictional, as in the early times of this planet, creatures tended to be far larger than after the extinction of the dinosaurs. There is so far no proof that Chessie actually exists. But don't let that stop you from attending Chessie Fest at Grapeseed in Bethesda today.

From 12-3 PM today, diners will feast on Chesapeake Gold Oysters, Wild Blue Catfish, Blue Rays, smoked Bluefish, hushpuppies, and more. Beer and wine specials will be provided by Evolution Brewery and Pacific Prime Wines.

Best of all, ongoing raffles during the event will benefit the non-profit Oyster Recovery Partnership, the leading non-profit working to restore the Bay. Prizes include a dinner for 8 at Grapeseed.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $40.

Grapeseed
4865 Cordell Avenue

Friday, September 12, 2014

BETHESDA REMEMBERS 9/11 (PHOTOS)

Bethesda Fire Department

Bethesda Metro Center
The Clark Building
(Clark Construction HQ)

IPO FILING REVEALS WHITE FLINT MALL DAVE AND BUSTER'S STILL PROFITABLE WHEN PLUG WAS PULLED

The Dark Side of White Flint, Part 31

Welcome to The Dark Side of White Flint, an ongoing series about the not-so-wonnerful, wonnerful, wonnerful side of urbanizing the suburbs of Montgomery County.

Dave and Buster's, up until recently a major draw for millennials in White Flint Mall, is going public. An $100 IPO filing by the restaurant/arcade chain gives some insights into the finances of its former White Flint location, before it was forced out by the closing mall's owners last month.

Not surprisingly, profits did decline in 2014, after many restaurant draws and the mall's movie theater were shuttered. Twenty-six week August 2014 revenues for the White Flint location were $5,231,000. In that same period in 2013, D&B grossed $6,384,000.

Even this year, revenue far exceeded depreciation and rent costs ($646,000) for the White Flint D&B outpost. Along with The Cheesecake Factory and the theater, there is no indication that the mall's success would not have continued well into the future, had owners not decided to pull the plug. Not a dying mall until the demolition plan was announced, the retail center was fully-leased less than three years ago, and it was hard to find a parking space near the popular anchor tenants.

Will millennials hit the highways to go to D&B at Arundel Mills Mall? Dave and Buster's corporate office says so in its filing. "With past store closures, we have experienced customer migration to
other stores within the same market," the filing notes.

Explore The Dark Side of White Flint further:

Relive the final hours of Dave and Buster's at White Flint Mall.

Examine the unique architecture and memorabilia of a doomed White Flint auto dealership.

Make a final visit to the legendary Toys R Us.

Go back to the original post that started it all!


BETHESDA FIRE DEPARTMENT REDEVELOPMENT POSSIBILITIES OUTLINED AT MEETING (PHOTOS)

Board members of the Bethesda Fire Department briefed a standing-room-only crowd in the vehicle bays of the firehouse last night on potential redevelopment options for the site. Doing nothing was the only option off the table at this point, they said.

40 members of the public signed up, and at least 15 additional people attended the meeting at Station 6, on the corner of Bradley Boulevard and Wisconsin Avenue. Speaking on behalf of the BFD were President John Murgolo, Treasurer Grant Davies (a resident of the Town of Chevy Chase), and Director Nat Finkelstein (a resident of Somerset).

Finkelstein noted that the station house was built in 1969, and that the department was exploring options to preserve the station site and provide the best service to the community. He said that press reports and community emails were exaggerating the timeframe and specifics of the redevelopment possibilities, and that the process will take considerable time before anything happens. Referring to explosive residential growth in Bethesda, Finkelstein said the station site is essential to fire and rescue operations. Davies defined the department's service area (with 3 station houses total) as ranging from the DC line in Friendship Heights out to Grosvenor, and along Democracy Boulevard. Personnel are also first responders to incidents on both interstates that pass through Bethesda, Davies said. The station's board is a non-profit organization.

The station is functional but technologically-obsolete. New technologies in firefighting call for updated facilities, and there are more residential units than ever to respond to. BFD also faces challenges in the near future, they said, such as the development of a new Fire Master Plan, the Purple Line light rail, loss of firefighting assets from NIH and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, increased construction, and the potential consolidation of Stations 6, 7,11, and 20 into only two stations.

As "bottom line" objectives, the BFD included ensuring Station 6 continues to be located at Bradley and Wisconsin, serve the community's needs, retain the station as a community asset, provide high quality public safety services, and partner with community stakeholders.

The BFD defined "stakeholders" as including residents, businesses, citizen associations, incorporated municipalities, the BCC Chamber of Commerce, BCC Rescue Squad, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, volunteer and career firefighters, community organizations and schools, and County officials.

Options on the table at this point are refurbishing the existing station, building a new station (either as another standalone facility, or as part of a residential development), or another alternative not yet thought of.

Doing nothing is not an option, they said.

Refurbishment would require identifying funding sources, which is what makes redevelopment of the site an attractive option for the department at this point. The latter venture would not be without funding concerns, and the department insists it would factor community concerns into the architectural aesthetics of any redevelopment.



One potential concept was floated for a residential project at last night's meeting, which would include a 6-story building with townhomes at the rear of the site. 180 total units was floated as a possible number. Residents in proximity to the station have expressed concerns about the visual and traffic impacts of redevelopment, among other issues.

Attendees discussed some of these concerns at last night's meeting.

One concern was the location of loading docks, as well as access to the site from Wisconsin Avenue. The department believes that traffic lights could allow fire equipment to access Wisconsin via Bradley. The question of how the department could operate during construction was raised. Davies said a two-stage construction process could permit operations to continue. On the basic question of why residential would be appropriate at a fire station, the department is using the future Bethesda District 2 police station as a model.

There was some criticism as to how the County is spending tax dollars, if there was not enough money for a new Bethesda Fire Station 6 after all of the new real estate development that has, and is, taking place. Another citizen made a point by suggesting opening a casino or bordello on-site if generating money was paramount, as opposed to residential development.

Davies said that although residential is still just an option, without "shovels in the ground," the department wants to get residential zoning in the new Bethesda Downtown sector plan, so that the option can remain viable. One resident said the community had been fighting to keep commercialization from crossing Bradley. Davies said that the BFD board has a fiduciary duty to explore every option for the site.

The topic of affordable housing was raised by a firefighter in the crowd. He said he had to live in a group home until he could afford to buy a house in Bethesda. He urged nearby homeowners to consider that redevelopment of the station could raise their neighborhood's Walk Score, and by extension, the value of their homes.

One of those nearby residents on Chevy Chase Drive expressed reservations, and Davies reminded everyone that residents are welcome to apply for the department's board, which currently does not have a member from that street.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

SURPRISE ROAD CLOSURE ON BETHESDA AVENUE (PHOTOS)

Bethesda Avenue was closed tonight at Woodmont Avenue by Barnes and Noble for road/utility work. To my knowledge, there was no advance notice given of this closure. The block of Bethesda Avenue between Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues was fully open tonight, but vehicles entering Bethesda Avenue at Arlington Road had to turn around before reaching Woodmont.

FAIRMONT AVENUE BRIGHTENED BY NEW STREETLAMPS (PHOTOS)

The block of Fairmont Avenue between Old Georgetown Road and Norfolk Avenue - particularly after the closure of Relic Lounge, and several restaurants - tends to be quite dead at night. Lighting has also been an issue, with so many closed or "for lease" storefronts along the street.

Construction of several residential buildings - hopefully with some ground floor businesses to activate the street at night - and the potential of new tenants for the former Fresh Grill, Dansez Dansez and BlackFinn spaces give some hope for a future transformation. One hint of that future was illuminated this week by the activation of new street lamps along the thoroughfare, by the Bainbridge Bethesda apartments. This improves public safety, and makes the street slightly more inviting at night.

The improved streetscape, which also included new brick pavers, was facilitated by the development of the Bainbridge Bethesda, which spans the block between Fairmont and St. Elmo Avenues.


bluemercury CELEBRATES 15 YEARS IN BETHESDA

Cosmetics and skin-care boutique bluemercury is 15 years old, and they'll be celebrating at the Bethesda Row location this Saturday, from 10 AM to 7 PM.

Enjoy Georgetown Cupcakes, and free mini-makeovers, facials and treatments. Other treats will include a free Anniversary Deluxe product bag with any purchase of $175 or more, and a free M-61 Cleanser to the first 15 customers in the store.

The day will also include the debut of the limited-edition 15th Anniversary Best Sellers Collection.

bluemercury is truly a local company, with its CEO, Marla Malcolm Beck, being a Bethesda resident.

bluemercury
7105 Bethesda Lane
301-986-0070

THE RESURGENCE OF BIG SUVS IN AMERICA - AND BETHESDA

Giant SUVs were thought to have been driven into extinction by the double whammy of the Great Recession and inflated gas prices. Media reports suggest that Americans are desperate to downsize their vehicles and housing. But just as the claim that "the suburbs are dead" proved premature, Summer 2014 auto sales numbers indicate Americans' desire for bigger and better trucks is only growing.

A USA Today article from August 25, 2014 (which appeared only in print, not online), says there is "oversized demand" for the next generation of outsized SUVs. The article cited Autodata figures which showed sales of the redesigned 2015 Cadillac Escalade shot up in July 2014, with twice as many of the yacht-like luxury truck being sold as had been moved last July. Ford Expedition sales were up 59.3%, and GM's Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon sales both notched 50% increases.

In comparison, overall new car sales increased only 9.1%.

Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell told USA Today's James R. Healey that "we just closed the order bank" for the 2015 Escalade, "and we have three times as many orders as we can supply."

The hot truck is a hot seller here in Montgomery County, as well. Patrick Coleman of Jim Coleman Cadillac in Bethesda says, "since the redesign, the new Escalade has had a tremendous amount of attention in our showroom. In fact, we have been unable to keep a supply in stock because the demand has been so high."

Workers at the Arlington, Texas plant where the Escalade is manufactured are now working 3 shifts just to keep up with demand, according to USA Today. Still, many of the Escalades being manufactured are arriving pre-sold at dealerships across the country, with prospective owners placing orders, and waiting for delivery of the SUVs. That can been the case at Jim Coleman as well, where many 2015 Escalades "are actually presold prior to their arrival at the dealership," Patrick Coleman noted.

With demand steady and Cadillac working to meet it, Coleman says the Bethesda dealership expects "sales to continue to be strong into the fall as we get more inventory."

Perhaps most interesting, is the study detailing how Americans use their large SUVs. Are they parking the low-gas-mileage vehicles and boarding public transit? Not according to an analysis by TrueCar.com cited by USA Today.

The top daily uses for large SUVs are shopping/errands (32.2%), commuting (25.3%) and "taking kids to school" (15.2%). Cadillac knows its upscale suburban buyer well, touting the Escalade as "the 420-hp gated community." "Once you've reached the top," Escalade's website argues, "there's only one direction to go - over." Sales figures suggest Americans nationwide - and locally - are doing just that.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

TYBER BIERHAUS HOLDING ITS FIRST OKTOBERFEST IN BETHESDA

Tyber Bierhaus will be celebrating Oktoberfest from September 27 to October 5, 2014, as it reaches its first fall season since opening on Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda. During the Oktoberfest, selected German beers will be $11 per liter.

Tyber Bierhaus
7525 Old Georgetown Road
240-821-6830

7770 NORFOLK STREET CLOSURE UPDATE

The previously-announced utility work around the 7770 Norfolk luxury apartment tower construction site in Bethesda is scheduled to begin today. An update from the Clark Construction contractor says the connection and extension of wet utility piping will necessitate detours of pedestrian and automobile traffic on Norfolk and Fairmont Avenues. The utility project will take approximately 7 weeks to complete. Watch for signage if you are walking or driving in that area. Property owners in the immediate vicinity have been informed of the work.

While there appears to be no change in the project itself, the update apparently is to address the fact that the previously-scheduled start date of September 3 has been updated to today. The affected section of Norfolk is between Fairmont and Woodmont Avenues.

NAKED PIZZA CLOSES FOR RENOVATIONS (PHOTO)

Naked Pizza is the latest Bethesda business to temporarily close for interior renovations. They are directing customers to their other locations, although none of them are convenient to Bethesda (McLean, Reston, Pentagon Row and Ballston. No reopening date has been given at this point.

Naked Pizza
4914 Del Ray Avenue

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

UFC GYM GRAND OPENING TODAY IN BETHESDA

UFC Gym will celebrate its grand opening today, even though it's been open for nearly a year on Cordell Avenue. Meet Intern John of Hot 99.5 FM today at 5:00 PM, and enjoy games, prize giveaways, and free personal training from the gym's instructors. Yes, UFC Gym is a side venture of that UFC. It was previously known as L.A. Boxing, before being acquired by UFC Gym.

UFC Gym
4834 Cordell Avenue
(301) 656-3910

BETHESDA VOLVO DEALERSHIP OPENS (PHOTOS)




The new EuroMotorcars Bethesda Volvo dealership has opened on Woodmont Avenue. Signage at the related auto service facilities on River Road has been updated to reflect the EuroMotorcars branding. The Volvo XC70 wagon retains many of the classic lines that made it a ubiquitous presence in Bethesda driveways for decades. But the XC90 (pictured here) represents the current demand for crossover SUVs.


EuroMotorcars Volvo of Bethesda
7106 Woodmont Avenue
(877) 358-2879

COURAGE. b BOUTIQUE TO CLOSE TEMPORARILY FOR RENOVATIONS AT BETHESDA ROW (PHOTO)

COURAGE. b, a women's apparel boutique on Bethesda Lane, will close temporarily for remodeling between September 14 and 25. The shop will reopen on September 26. In the meantime, all summer stock is up to 80% off.

COURAGE. b
7125 Bethesda Lane
240-800-4143