Friday, January 19, 2018
A past Montgomery County Planning Board had stipulated the space be filled by a "quality restaurant," which was notable for proving that the County does indeed have the authority to require a type of business tenant. However, developer Duball, LLC requested that stipulation be amended, citing a lack of market demand for a restaurant at that location. The change was granted by the County.
Ralph Lauren has closed its doors at the Collection at Chevy Chase, where high-end retailers have fled along with their fabulously wealthy clients. Such clients usually sustain these posh boutiques through economic bubbles and recessions alike, so their downfall has been solid evidence that those clients are largely seeking greener pastures - and pastures that let them keep more of their green.
The grand windows of Ralph Lauren are now papered over. Letters announcing the store's name above the stately entrance have been pried off, leaving worn shadows behind.
Next to go will be DePandi at 5518 Wisconsin, which is currently holding a closing sale. The front windows of the shop are plastered with the GOING OUT OF BUSINESS and EVERYTHING MUST GO! signs so ubiquitous around Montgomery County these days. The high-end suit shop was opened five years ago by famed master tailor Eduardo DePandi.
Montgomery County is in real trouble, as the County's $120,000,000 budget shortfall - and structural budget deficit - prove. We haven't attracted a single major corporate headquarters in two decades. MCPS has been in a steep decline since 2010. Thirteen nightspots have closed in downtown Bethesda since County Council President Hans Riemer's "nighttime economy" initiative instead tanked the nighttime economy. The County has lost over 2000 retail jobs since the turn of the century, according to the Maryland Retailers Association. Even Riemer's former chief-of-staff and the Washington Post have taken to calling our private sector economy "stagnant" and "moribund."
Montgomery has fallen well out of the Forbes "Top Ten Richest Counties in America" list. We can see that on Montgomery County's "Rodeo Drive" these days.
|Smashed-out bus shelter on|
Wisconsin Avenue. Stay classy,
The bill, like the others, is being filed at the eleventh hour, and with no fanfare. Bill MC 27-18, "Eminent Domain - Expansion of 'Quick Take' Authority," would streamline the property seizure process related to highway and transit projects. For example, it would eliminate the ability to compare a property to similar pieces of land for the purpose of determining fair market value. The Council would also be able to force residents out of homes, and businesspeople out of commercial properties immediately, as long as they make an immediate payment of that potentially less-than-actual market value to the landowner.
Purple Line opponents suspect the law may be used in short order for eminent domain seizures related to that light rail project. That would fit the "heckuva rush" manner in which it is being put forward in Annapolis.
But looking ahead, this law would be equally handy in the quick demolition of more than 150 homes and businesses along Georgia Avenue between Olney and Wheaton, for the planned BRT route there. We know that from a state analysis, but we don't have similar numbers yet for which properties would end up being seized for BRT along MD 355 and Route 29. How might this also be used in the Veirs Mill Corridor sector plan, which is about to begin the process of approval before the Montgomery County Planning Board? Land seizures along Veirs Mill have been strongly hinted at by planners.
The late-filed bill will be introduced at the 9:30 AM session of the Montgomery County Delegation this morning. If the bill receives the necessary votes to advance, a public hearing will be scheduled. One question will be: will that hearing be held in Rockville, or Annapolis?
It's no wonder they held this bill from you, despite planning it for months, and are now attempting to file it quietly at the last minute!
Thursday, January 18, 2018
The 60' tall building will house 235 units, a lobby cafe, a fitness center, landscaped terraces, and an underground parking garage. Florida-based ZOM has promised to offer 15% affordable units, which is higher than Montgomery County's required 12.5%.
Renderings courtesy ZOM
Developer Regency Centers has announced it will hold a public meeting on January 31, 2018 at 7:30 PM at Westland Middle School, where it will unveil a revised plan for the redevelopment of its Westbard properties. After the presentation, questions will be taken from the audience. Regency owns more than 20 acres of land along Westbard Avenue and Ridgefield Road.
Rumors have been floating around since late October that Regency was meeting with selected community groups, and that a revised plan was in the works for January. A legal decision is still pending in a case between residents and Montgomery County regarding the Westbard sector plan, which determines what can actually be built by any of the landowners in that area.
Some of the biggest questions in a revised plan: Will density and height - the two biggest community complaints - be reduced? Will Regency give up extra height and density previous property owner Equity One received in a trade for more-than-the required amount of affordable housing? Will the company still agree to a new alignment of Westbard Avenue sought by the Springfield Civic Association? Will Regency agree to bury power lines in the area, something Equity One refused to do, annoying community members? Will Regency proactively try to resolve the controversy over the Moses African Cemetery on the Westwood Tower site it owns? Will staging and leasing issues be addressed to allow current businesses in the retail spaces there now to survive and return in the new development?
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
|Chris Bruch is the new CEO|
of The Donohoe Companies
In a statement, Bob Donohoe called Bruch "a proven, dedicated leader." Bruch has also taken a prominent leadership role in Empower Montgomery, a non-profit that seeks to increase voter participation in Montgomery County.
Photo courtesy The Donohoe Companies, Inc.
Although a public hearing on the site plan must legally be held within 120 days of Toll Brothers' submission of the plan to the County on October 25, 2017, the company says there were too many issues raised by the County Development Review Commission. They cannot address all of these by the previously-scheduled hearing date of February 22, 2018. they said in a letter to planning staff.
Therefore, Toll is seeking a three-month extension, which would postpone the public hearing until May. Planning staff is recommending approval of the extension. The Board will take up the extension request at its January 25 meeting.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
|This new view from Wisconsin Avenue|
stopped me in my tracks for a moment - this
is what it used to look like up until the late 1980s
Online reviews of this Safeway have been harsh, and like the Sangamore location, this store apparently hasn't discovered self-checkout machines exist yet. I'm still puzzled as to why Giant and Safeway leave all these empty checkout aisles that are never manned, instead of removing them for more inventory floor space.
Montgomery County has lost more than 2000 retail jobs since the year 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Paladar has closed in the North Bethesda Market building, according to an email from the restaurant. Their Tysons and Gaithersburg locations remain open. They said the structure and layout of their space, and "building issues" in recent months, were to blame at the North Bethesda location.
What should have been a sleepy stagger over the finish line for Senator Ben Cardin (D - Maryland) has turned into a battle royale with national implications overnight. The Maryland Democratic political machine and Republicans alike melted down upon hearing Red Maryland report that Chelsea Manning has entered the race. Manning, a North Bethesda resident, is best known for her role in providing damaging information about U.S. actions and operations during the Iraq War to Wikileaks in 2010. She was serving as an Army intelligence analyst deployed to Iraq at the time.
|Incumbent U.S. Senator|
Ben Cardin (D-Maryland)
Manning can capitalize on national attention and money. The victory of Danica Roem in Virginia last November showed just how much national money was out there for a minor state legislative race. Manning would be the first transgender U.S. Senator, if elected. That's a strong selling point, when 2018 is expected to be another Year of the Woman in politics.
A campaign video and fundraising page have been posted by Manning's campaign in the last 24 hours.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
expected arrival Altar'd State has posted signage announcing a March 2018 target opening date.