Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brutal new speed bumps make parking even more of pain in Bethesda (Photos)

The Montgomery County Council just raised your taxes to the highest level in County history, absurdly pleading poverty in justifying raiding your wallet or purse and bank account. But here's what they can afford to spend on: making parking in downtown Bethesda even more of a pain than it is already - literally.

New speed bumps installed on every level in the Capital Crescent Trail Garage at Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues aren't the flat-topped "speed humps" used by the County on residential streets. They are the brutal kind that give your neck and suspension a workout even crawling over them at 1 mile per hour.

The Capital Crescent Trail Garage was initially a big success, as many drivers didn't know it was there. Anyone who has spent twenty minutes making the climb from ground level to the top of the other nearby public garage (exacerbated by people who think they are entitled to hold up traffic on the ramps just so they can park on a lower level, apparently unaware that they will be using the same elevator to reach the street as those they block) would consider the CCTG a major improvement. It also has much wider aisles.

Now drivers who don't speed in the garage, and even hesitate or stop at the pedestrian crossing/elevator areas in case someone is going to step out without looking both ways, are being slowed down and their vehicles unnecessarily damaged. Send your repair bill to Montgomery County.

Thank you to our nanny state overlords for your inspired idiocy. #MoCoTermLimits #ThrowTheBumsOut

Max Brenner closes at Bethesda Row (Photos)

Max Brenner has closed at Bethesda Row. This development is not a complete shock, as the business had been seeking a sublease tenant for well over a year. Bethesda-based real estate firm Streetsense had ultimately advertised the space as outright available for lease two months ago.

The shop was packing up yesterday, but store management says that you can send a farewell message to employees by emailing bethesda [at] maxbrenner [dot] com. Max Brenner opened in July 2013.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Burglary on Beech Hill Dr., drug bust on Elm St. + more - Bethesda crime update

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

Drug arrest. Elm Street at Wisconsin Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Wilson Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 7800 block Aberdeen Road.

Theft from vehicle. 5600 block Huntington Parkway.

Theft. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Theft. 5200 block Pooks Hill Road.

Drug arrest. 10200 block Rockville Pike.

Theft. 6700 block Democracy Boulevard.

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Nicholson Lane.

Theft. Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Burglary. 9200 block Beech Hill Drive at 2:46 PM.

Theft from vehicle. 8600 block Grimsby Court.

Delay sought for review of Pooks Hill project

The developer of the project at the Bethesda Marriott hotel property is asking for a 30-day extension for Montgomery County Planning Board review of its site plan and a site plan amendment. Heather Dlhopolsky, attorney for the applicant, says in a letter to the planning department that revisions are being made to the project based on recommendations of the planning staff.

Staff is recommending approval of both extensions. The board is expected to take up the request at its June 30 meeting. A pair of luxury apartment towers will be added to the hotel site on Pooks Hill Road under the proposed plan.

Chevy Chase Lake on the verge of transformation (Photos)

Chevy Chase Lake rivals Westbard as one of the places in Montgomery County that will be leveled and completely rebuilt with new development, thanks to plans recently passed by the County Council and Planning Board. What is mind-blowing about comparing the two, however, is how much the difference reveals about the ineptness of those two bodies.

Here at Chevy Chase Lake, the planned Purple Line light rail station gave some justification for taller building heights and greater density. But heights at Westbard, where there is no rail transit, will actually exceed the heights allowed at Chevy Chase Lake, which is right at a rail station.
Note building heights:
120' right at the Purple Line
station here; 122' and counting
at Westbard, where there is
no rail transit

Plaza and open space
locations; grey spaces
within building B3 at right
are interior courtyards

Aerial view of Phase 1

Elements designed to activate
the civic open space right
off of Connecticut Avenue
A couple of other things stand out in the plans unveiled by the Chevy Chase Land Company and Bozzuto, partners in the redevelopment of the initial phase of construction here.
Purple Line Plaza. All of that
grey space below the green in
the center? That's how massive
the Purple Line facility
will be
First, get a load of just how wide the Purple Line facility is going to be, with the two tracks, trail and buffers. It is completely different in scale from its earliest days as a one-track train or trolley line. It's commendable that they have planned a Purple Line Plaza, as opposed to just building right up against the station all the way along the facility.
I particularly like
the buildings on the left
and top center of this
slide. Very grand designs
that impart a residential
Second, I like the approach the developers have taken to the architecture here. Putting the controversial question of how tall and dense Chevy Chase Lake should have been aside, they are taking inspiration from some of the kinds of residential buildings you would find much further down Connecticut Avenue in the District.

Like many of the great, older apartment buildings in D.C., these sample designs are not only grand and traditional, but have architectural elements that emphasize they are residential in nature. So they have more ornamental rooflines, as opposed to just being a box. I think that is a positive in spots like this and Westbard, where the surroundings are squarely suburban and residential.

While the designs shown in the developers' recent presentation to the community make a few contemporary concessions, they do have elements that capture some of the grand designs you'll find in the District. It's certainly going to help make the final product stand out. Massachusetts Avenue N.W. is another thoroughfare where you can see many older apartment towers in D.C. that, thanks to their architects, haven't lost any of their luster.

What's the timeline here? The developers are hoping for approval from the Planning Board by March of 2017. Shovels will go into the dirt in the first quarter of 2018, if the schedule holds, and delivery of these three buildings is anticipated in the third quarter of 2020.
View from Manor Road
into the new development
down a yet-to-be-named
new street
Some nice architecture of the past will be lost here for sure. The arched openings in the facades of the Chevy Chase Supermarket, and the even-taller ones in the Chevy Chase Lake Centers across the street, come to mind.

Jos. A Bank and T.W. Perry have already cleared out (T.W. Perry has moved to its new location on Brookville Road in Silver Spring). Here's a look at the waning moments of a vintage "last gas" commercial district, which like Montgomery Hills east of here, will soon head into the sunset:

Photos: Robert Dyer
Renderings courtesy Chevy Chase Land Company, Bozzuto, David M. Schwarz Architects, VIKA, Martin Architectural; All rights reserved

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cars stolen from Holland Rd., Raleigh Tavern Ct.; burglary at French Intl. School + more - Bethesda crime update

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

Vehicle burglary. 6700 block Fairfax Road.

Vehicle burglary. 6700 block Fairfax Road.

Stolen car. 9400 block Holland Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5000 block Alta Vista Road.

Vehicle burglary. 9600 block Alta Vista Terrace.

Theft. 5800 block Walton Road.

Burglary. French International School.

Stolen car. 9800 block Raleigh Tavern Court.

Drug arrest. 10300 block Old Georgetown Road.

Bethesda construction update: Charles Schwab (Photos)

Charles Schwab is being renovated in the Bethesda Crescent buildling at 7401 Wisconsin Avenue. During the renovation, which as you can see is quite significant, their offices have temporarily relocated to the 3rd floor. Head around to the corner entrance at Wisconsin and Montgomery Avenue.